>> Wednesday, March 09, 2016
TITLE: Die Again
AUTHOR: Tess Gerritsen
SETTING: Contemporary US and Southern Africa
SERIES: 11th in the Rizzoli / Isles series
Detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles are back—and they’re going into the wild to find a killer. Die Again is the latest heart-pounding thriller in Tess Gerritsen’s bestselling series, the inspiration behind TNT’s hit show Rizzoli & Isles.It's become a bit of a tradition of mine to save the latest Rizzoli and Isles novel by Tess Gerritsen to listen to on my early morning walks while on holiday, as soon as I get to Punta del Este. For some strange reason, I find these two experiences the perfect combination.
When Boston homicide detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles are summoned to a crime scene, they find a killing worthy of the most ferocious beast—right down to the claw marks on the corpse. But only the most sinister human hands could have left renowned big-game hunter and taxidermist Leon Gott gruesomely displayed like the once-proud animals whose heads adorn his walls. Did Gott unwittingly awaken a predator more dangerous than any he’s ever hunted?
Maura fears that this isn’t the killer’s first slaughter, and that it won’t be the last. After linking the crime to a series of unsolved homicides in wilderness areas across the country, she wonders if the answers might actually be found in a remote corner of Africa.
Six years earlier, a group of tourists on safari fell prey to a killer in their midst. Marooned deep in the bush of Botswana, with no means of communication and nothing but a rifle-toting guide for protection, the terrified tourists desperately hoped for rescue before their worst instincts—or the wild animals prowling in the shadows—could tear them apart. But the deadliest predator was already among them, and within a week, he walked away with the blood of all but one of them on his hands.
Now this killer has chosen Boston as his new hunting ground, and Rizzoli and Isles must find a way to lure him out of the shadows and into a cage. Even if it means dangling the bait no hunter can resist: the one victim who got away.
The book starts out in Botswana, where our narrator, Millie, and her asshat boyfriend are on a week-long photography safari. Millie is not happy. She's not particularly enjoying the experience, and her boyfriend's behaviour (constantly putting her down, flirting with the pretty South African blondes who are part of the expedition) makes it clear their relationship is not going to last very long. She can't wait for it to be over.
And then things get worse: they wake up one morning to find one of their guides dead, apparently eaten by wild animals. Some in the group (read: asshat boyfriend) argue they should continue the trip (the guy is dead anyway, right?). But they can't even do that, because their vehicle won't start. They have no way to communicate with the outside, so all they can do is wait there for a few days, until their pilot alerts the authorities they haven't turned up where expected. And then that night another one of the group is killed, apparently by animals.
The action moves between the travails of the safari group and Boston, where Jane and Maura are investigating the death of a big-game hunter who was found hung on a hook in his own house, just as if he was one of the big animals he himself hunted. And this is not the only suspicious death related to this guy.
This was one of the better books in the series. I was really intrigued by the cases. I couldn't wait to find out was really going on in each of them, but also to find out how they were connected. The bit on the safari was particularly good. Gerritsen managed to create a cast of characters for that section that really came alive and felt real, and more than once I kept thinking about them after I'd finished my walk and had put down my mp3 player. Millie, particularly, was an excellent heroine, and I just couldn't wait to find out what would happen to her and the guide, Johnny. I was really invested in that relationship. I came up with many, many hypotheses, none of which turned out to be right!
The only false step in the suspense came when Gerritsen started bringing in ancient cults and spirit animals and murder rituals and that sort of thing. Fortunately, that's something that turned out not to be a particularly big element, and I was really satisfied with the conclusion of all the different threads. All the solutions fit perfectly, and the killer's motivations, both for the murders and for some of his other actions, made complete sense.
These books also always have some drama going on in our characters' private lives, and just as in the previous book, here we've got quite a bit on the drama between Rizzoli’s mother and asshole father. Now, I was really, really engaged in this in the previous book (see my rant in the previous review). Basically, Frank Rizzoli left his wife Angela for a younger woman. She was devastated but recovered and met a man who treated her well, unlike her chauvinist pig of a husband. But the dog in the manger syndrome kicked in (plus, the other woman got sick of the bastard), and he decided he wanted his wife back, and everything to go back to how it was before. With the help of Jane’s brothers (chauvinist pigs in training) and their Catholic priest, he put the pressure on Angela to take him back. That was the state of affairs on the previous book. We were left hanging without a resolution, and I was looking forward to seeing how it had been resolved when I started this. Well, the whole mess is still going on, and Gerritsen really is dragging it a much too long. I’m tired of the whole sorry mess. She really needs to sort it out soon.
MY GRADE: A B+.