Vanish, by Tess Gerritsen

>> Friday, February 25, 2011

TITLE: Vanish
AUTHOR: Tess Gerritsen

PAGES: 416
PUBLISHER: Ballantine

SETTING: Contemporary US
TYPE: Mystery / Thriller
SERIES: 5th in the Rizzoli/Isles series

REASON FOR READING: This has become on of my favourite mystery series.

A nameless, beautiful woman appears to be just another corpse in the morgue. An apparent suicide, she lies on a gurney, awaiting the dissecting scalpel of medical examiner Maura Isles. But when Maura unzips the body bag and looks down at the body, she gets the fright of her life. The corpse opens its eyes.

Very much alive, the woman is rushed to the hospital, where with shockingly cool precision, she murders a security guard and seizes hostages . . . one of them a pregnant patient, Jane Rizzoli.

Who is this violent, desperate soul, and what does she want? As the tense hours tick by, Maura joins forces with Jane's husband, FBI agent Gabriel Dean, to track down the mysterious killer's identity. When federal agents suddenly appear on the scene, Maura and Gabriel realize that they are dealing with a case that goes far deeper than just an ordinary hostage crisis.

Only Jane, trapped with the armed madwoman, holds the key to the mystery. And only she can solve it-if she survives the night.
No summary from me for this one, the one above is fine. I'll only add that the book starts with a section on a group of young Eastern European women who are smuggled into the US and forced into sexual slavery**. When the action shifts to the first scene described above, with Maura Isles discovering that the supposed corpse she's about to dissect is actually alive, we know that there must be a connection to the human trafficking, but for a while, we don't know exactly what that is.

The beginning I thought was fantastic, with the scenes in the hospital and the hostage situation. It was tense and intriguing, and I couldn't wait to see how things would proceed. But then things change completely, and the whole hostage situation dissipates and Vanish turns into something completely different.

Unfortunately, I was left with the feeling that I kind of wished Gerritsen had written a different story, that she had continued in the direction she seemed to be going. It would have been brilliant if the entire book had taken place with Jane and Gabriel holed in with the hostage takers, with them investigating things from the inside, cooperating with Maura and Jane's team on the outside. That's what I thought would happen, and I think it would have been a better book.

Well, one I would have liked even more, anyway, because what the book turns into is a sort of government conspiracy, with our detectives' work hampered by people high above. This is one of my least favourite devices. It wasn't too bad here, which says a lot about just how good Gerritsen is, but it just annoys me in general and I hate it when I encounter it in a book where there were no indications it was coming.

As in the other books in this series, there's also stuff going on in the detectives' private lives, and that element of Vanish I quite enjoyed. Jane starts the book in labour, so it's no spoiler to disclose that she does have her baby. And knowing Jane, it's not an easy fit. I liked that much as she loves her newborn child, she's still fundamentally the Jane we've got to know. She misses work and has absolutely no intention of staying home. She isn't even tempted, in fact, and she's not branded a bad mother for it (well, she thinks to herself that she is, but it's obvious that the author isn't saying that)

It's not easy, though, and there is quite a bit of conflict between Jane and Gabriel because of it. That was really interesting. I could see where Gabriel was coming from, even though I completely agreed with Jane when she pretty much blasted him. The Jane - Gabriel thing has been woefully underdeveloped in previous books and I didn't really know anything about them as a couple, so this was a very welcome development.

Strangely enough, like with The Sinner, even though this is a long book, I got a slight feeling that we were only getting into the swing of things when it was suddenly over. I wonder what it is about some of Gerritsen's books that strikes me that way.

** I need to warn potential readers that these sections from "Mila"'s POV are really graphic and disturbing. Some very horrific and upsetting things happen.



SuperWendy,  25 February 2011 at 17:16  

What I really enjoyed about this book is that, as the reader, you finally come to understand how a guy like Gabriel is in love with a woman like Jane.  They're so...different - that it was nice to get some "stuff" from his POV in this book.  That's honestly what stuck with me the most about this particular entry in the series.  I think my grade was similar to yours.  Around a B.  I wasn't over the moon about it like some of the other titles, but I thought the author did a good job of propelling the "series stuff" forward.

Christine,  25 February 2011 at 17:58  

Great post!

rosario001,  25 February 2011 at 18:19  

Wendy: Yes, completely agree. It's good to finally feel that I know a bit moer who this guy is, other than tall, handsome FBI agent. Hopefully we'll get more of that in future books!

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