Advanced reader copy received from the publisher via NetGalley
Release date (UK): 1st January 2015
I’ve only read a couple of Tess Gerritsen’s Rizzoli and Isles series, but what I have read I’ve enjoyed, and Die Again is no exception. Gerritsen seems to have a knack for weaving complex issues and themes into her novels, elevating them from many other books in this genre.
In this book, she tackles friendship, hunting, genetics, trust, wild animals and domestic cats. This multi-layered novel spans continents, intercepting the Boston lives of Rizzoli, Isles and their colleagues with chapters which follow a group of strangers on a treacherous safari trek into the heart of Africa. These chapters, narrated by unassuming plain Jane, Millie, vividly bring the Botswana bush to life, describing it as “a place of heat and glaring sunlight, life and death in all its vivid colours”. As things in the bush take a darker turn, the group realise that they are being hunted, and not just by the the wild cats which lurk in the bushes, but by someone inside the camp.
Six years later, in Boston, Rizzoli and Isles are called to a particularly gruesome crime scene. A prominent taxidermist, Leon Gott, has been hung and gutted in his home, in a manner which reflects the killing techniques of the animals whom he made a living out of.
The novel moves at a fast pace, as Rizzoli and Isles delve deeper, connecting Gott’s murder to other cases across the world and eventually tracing back to the Botswana safari trek. This is all intercepted with chapters from Millie’s point of view, capturing the tense atmosphere of a dream holiday turned nightmare, as camp members start dying and those remaining begin to turn on each other in their ominous surroundings – “Eight of us left now, meat on the bone, surrounded by carnivores”. This part of the story was truly captivating and unique – as the tension built around the camp, I felt I could have read an entire novel just of this gripping crime survivor story. But as the story moves to a climax, the Boston team realise that the only way to get to the truth is to track down the one known survivor of that Botswana group, and the two narratives come together.
Gerritsen’s writing manages to be both engrossing and factually accurate, as her medical background shines through once again, she made constant references to the stark reality of the human body – “Ugly or beautiful, every woman is merely a package of organs encased in a shell of flesh and bone”. She also captures the terrifyingly unpredictable nature of wild animals, and shows that even the most expert handlers are still vulnerable with creatures which can never truly be tamed, questioning whether any kind of animal can ever truly be trusted – “A house cat might sit in your lap and eat from your hand, but it still had the instincts of a hunter. As do we.”
This is a fast-paced action thriller which delves a little deeper, a great addition to the series which can also be enjoyed as a standalone novel. I found that there was less time spent on Maura and Jane’s personal lives in this one, which makes it more accessible to those of us who don’t religiously follow the series and allows for more time to focus on the gripping story. I’d definitely recommend this book.