Reviews by L. J. Roberts

TESS GERRITSEN – I Know a Secret. Rizzoli & Isles #12. Ballantine, hardcover, August 2017.

First Sentence:   When I was seven years old, I learned how important it is to cry at funerals.

   Detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles have two murders to investigate. Although they occurred in separate locations and no connection seems to exist between the two victims, there is a commonality in their wounds. Also when Maura visits her biological mother, an imprisoned serial killer who is dying of cancer, she receives a cryptic message. What does her mother know?

   Such a well-done beginning. It is one filled with very intriguing information and leaves one with many questions— “You’ll find another one soon.” –to which one wants answers.

   Third-person, anonymous narration is a writer’s element; i.e., trick, which can be annoying, and disruptive to the flow and tension of the story. Bear with it, however, as it not only makes sense but leads one down an unexpected path.

   Gerritsen really knows how to write natural dialogue. It serves many purposes, even to indicate the difference in educational backgrounds between Isles and Rizzoli— “Bilateral globe enucleation,” said Maura softly. “Is that some kind of fancy medical talk for someone cut out her eyeballs?” “Yes.”

   The dialogue is only one aspect of Gerritsen’s literary voice. Excellent analogies is another— Cops were like terrorists. They tossed devastating bombs into the lives of victims’ friends and families, and then they stood around to watch the damage they’d done.”

   Learning about the families of the protagonists gives them dimension and life. It makes them vulnerable and realistic. If one has a character who is Italian, one can also be ensured of large meals with good food— “The leg of lamb was studded with garlic cloves and roasted to a perfect medium rare. Surrounding it were bowls of crisp rosemary potatoes, green beans with almonds, three different salads, and homemade dinner rolls.” –Yet one is also reminded that cops don’t get Christmas off.

   A fascinating benefit of Gerritsen’s novels, due to her background, is the medical and scientific information one learns. It takes the investigative information just another step up.

   The plot is so skillfully developed. The investigation is layers built on layers. It is refreshing even when theories are developed that don’t prove out … or do they? And the twists keep coming, one of which could not have been more unexpected. What is particularly enjoyable is that they don’t feel contrived, although you know Gerritsen labored long and hard on them, because the logic works.

   I Know a Secret is an excellent book. It is skillfully plotted with twists that give definite “Wow!” moments. Gerritsen is a “must read” author.

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