Friday, March 7, 2014

Book Review - Last to die

Last to Die – Tess Gerritsen

Ten books in and despite reading scores of books every year, I still am first in line to purchase a new Rizzoli and Isles book. Of course, the fact that I never get round to reading the book until much later when it is greatly reduced in price is rather stupid in terms of my financial situation. Still, I believe in supporting my favourite authors.

The Blurb:

For the second time in his short life, Teddy Clock has survived a massacre. Two years ago, he barely escaped when his entire family was slaughtered. Now, at fourteen, in a hideous echo of the past, Teddy is the lone survivor of his foster family's mass murder. Orphaned once more, the traumatized teenager has nowhere to turn - until the Boston PD puts detective Jane Rizzoli on the case. But no sooner does her investigation begin than Teddy's life almost ends . . . again. Suddenly, what seemed like a grisly coincidence is unmasked as the mission of a relentless killer.

Jane spirits Teddy to the exclusive Evensong boarding school, a sanctuary where young victims of violent crime learn the secrets and skills of survival in a dangerous world. But even behind locked gates, and surrounded by acres of sheltering Maine wilderness, Jane fears that Evensong's mysterious benefactors aren't the only ones watching. When strange blood-splattered dolls are found dangling from a tree, Jane knows that her instincts are dead on. And when she meets Will Kennedy and Claire Ward, students whose tragic pasts bear a shocking resemblance to Teddy's, it becomes chillingly clear that a circling predator has more than one victim in mind.

Joining forces with her trusted partner, medical examiner Maura Isles, Jane is determined to keep these orphans safe from harm. But an unspeakable secret dooms the children's fate - unless Jane and Maura can finally put an end to an obsessed killer's twisted quest.
“Last to Die” sees the return of one of my favourite factions in the series in the Mephisto Club. It is a society that believes evil as an entity exists and they are out to thwart it.
The plot focuses on the lives of three children who have all lost their parents whilst surviving the incidents themselves. Two years later they also survive successful attacks on their guardians.

Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles are determined to find the link between the three cases despite the geographical spread of the incidents.

This novel sees a slightly more gentle Maura Isles. Having adopted a boy who she survived an ordeal herself with, she is far more compassionate towards the fate of the three children. The “Ice Queen” is replaced by a more caring woman who is tired of Boston and how others regard her. The Police force still hold her in contempt for the fact that she testified against one of her own and Maura is determined not to put up with the turmoil in her life any longer.

Jane Rizzoli is as tenacious as ever. She knows there is a link in the cases and even when others are happy to close down the investigation she cannot let it go. Her determination sees Jane go behind her bosses back and incur his wrath. It is an interesting situation as she is placed under pressure not just to solve the case before the killer can strike again but also has a time constraint to get a result before her boss discovers what she is doing.
We also see a more remorseful Jane. She is guilty of blaming Maura for doing the right thing and it is quite touching to see how upset she becomes at the thought of losing her friend.

The points of view of the children who are the victims are all well portrayed. Each has their own angst and insecurities and you are never quite sure if they are reliable narrators or not.
As with all stories in this series the plot weaves and bobs throwing in red herring after red herring. I will say one thing for Tess Gerritsen, if any other author tried to implement a plot element so outlandish that it verged on ridiculous then I would be angry. With Tess though, the idea just made me excited.

If there is a weakness, it is that throughout the novel, Tess provides a random point of view from a character reliving the past. These snippets of information are okay, but they clearly sign post what is behind all the killings. There is a little twist at the end, but I feel the novel would have been stronger without these passages.

The end of the novel is filled with the tension you come to expect from Tess. In some books the conclusion is wrapped up in a page or two, in this novel the tension mounts nicely and the end sequence is well handled, drawn out and exciting.

Overall, this is a great entry into the series. Tess Gerritsen is one author that has not suffered a dip in my opinion. Roll on the next entry.

My rating: 8.9