The Sinner, by Tess Gerritsen

>> Thursday, December 02, 2010

TITLE: The Sinner
AUTHOR: Tess Gerritsen

PAGES: 355
PUBLISHER: Ballantine

SETTING: Contemporary US (Boston)
TYPE: Mystery
SERIES: #3 in Jane Rizzoli / Maura Isles series

REASON FOR READING: I'm really getting into this series

Not even the icy temperatures of a typical New England winter can match the bone-chilling scene of carnage discovered at the chapel of Our Lady of Divine Light. Within the cloistered convent lie two nuns–one dead, one critically injured–victims of an unspeakably savage attacker.

The brutal crime appears to be without motive, but medical examiner Maura Isles’s autopsy of the dead woman yields a shocking surprise: Twenty-year-old Sister Camille gave birth before she was murdered. Then another body is found, mutilated beyond recognition.

Together, Isles and homicide detective Jane Rizzoli uncover an ancient horror that connects these terrible slaughters. As long-buried secrets come to light, Maura Isles finds herself drawn inexorably toward the heart of an investigation that strikes close to home–and toward a dawning revelation about the killer’s identity too shattering to consider.
It's a frigid winter's day in Boston and Detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles are called to investigate a murderous attack in an unlikely place: a covent for cloistered nuns. Two of them have been found in the chapel. One has been bludgeoned to death, the other one is only barely hanging on.

When the one who's died is discovered to have just had a baby, the detectives' attention automatically focuses on her. But a mysterious death elsewhere in the city suggests the attack on the other nun might have its own implications.

The Sinner is the book in this series where we finally get to really meet Maura Isles. She was only briefly introduced in The Apprentice, but that glimpse was more than enough to intrigue me. And Gerritsen delivers, with a character as interesting as she seemed to be, a woman who might intentionally project an ice-cold "Queen of Death" facade, but who is in reality very much alive. In this book, Maura not only has to investigate two different crimes (and I really enjoyed seeing her work -she's as competent as Jane and I quite like the CSI aspects of her work), but she also has to deal with the reappearance of her ex-husband. He seems to want her back, but why is he so insistent all of a sudden?

Even with focus on Maura, there is still quite a bit about Jane, and what's going on in her life is just as big. She is not feeling quite herself, getting queasy when she never did and constantly running for the toilet. Does that suggest anything to you, by any chance? Jane has to decide what she wants to do about it, and it's a tough one.

I must say, this was not my favourite part of the book. There's obviously more about the romance which started in the last book, and I'm really not feeling it. Weird, considering Gerritsen used to be a romance novelist -I would expect her to know exactly how to develop a believable romance! And also, I really didn't like the scene where Jane makes up her mind about what to do. It felt a bit preachy and non-Jane to me.

What I did like, and very much, was seeing the very beginnings of friendship between Maura and Jane. The two don't immediately click and become best pals straight away. They're just not the kind of women to make that kind of instant connection, especially since they meet in a work context and both have found necessary over the years to present an extremely impersonal, professional facade when at work. So when they accidentally see glimpses of the private people they each are behind their facades, it's a bit startling at first, but it's also a first step in forging a different sort of relationship. It's not one that goes very far in this book, but I look forward to seeing it grow in the next ones.

Finally, the other thing I should mention is that I had a bit of a strange time with the pacing. Nothing that I can point to objectively that was wrong, just a feeling. The previous two books felt big and meaty, the sort of books which you can really sink into. This one, however, felt like it was over when it had only just got going. The weird thing is that it's not that I can objectively see anything that needed to be more developed, it just felt like "Oh, is that it?".



SuperWendy,  2 December 2010 at 20:57  

This is one of my favorite books in the series, mostly because I loved the suspense thread - but like you, when I first read it, I disliked the road that Gerritsen put Jane's character on.  Now....that being grew on me over the next couple of books.  Especially with Body Double (the next one) and Vanish (the one after that) because we do get a bit more insight.  Especially Vanish, where part of the book gives you Gabriel's point of view. 

Vinagrinhos 2 May 2012 at 18:48  

I just posted my review and my complaints are exactly the scene where she makes her decision and the Jane / Dean romance. :-)

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