In the murky shadows of an alley in Boston’s Chinatown a hand has been discovered. On the rooftop above lies a woman’s severed head. Two strands of silver hair – not human – cling to the body that lies nearby. These are Detective Jane Rizzoli’s only clues, but they are enough for her and Dr Maura Isles to make a startling discovery: that this violent death had a chilling prequel. Seventeen years early a horrifying attack in a Boston restaurant left five people dead. Only one woman connected to the massacre is now still alive – a mysterious martial arts master who knows a secret she dare not tell. A secret that lives and breathes in the shadows of the city. A secret that may not even be human. It soon becomes clear than an ancient evil is stirring in Chinatown: an evil that has killed before, and will kill again – unless Jane and Maura can track it down, and defeat it.
I’m a big, big Tess Gerritsen fan. It started back in 2008 when my mum bought her first novel The Surgeon. I read it in one night, not able to get enough of this fast-paced suspense novel. I thought it was a stunning work of fiction and I was on the edge of my seat for the majority of the novel. I then went to the local bookswop and bought the rest of the novels, at that point the latest novel was The Mephisto Club. I read all of them within a short space of time and since then I’ve kept up with the latest releases. Each book keeps me hooked and although they’re not all to my taste (The Sinner and The Mephisto Club were doubtful for me, The Sinner more so) for the most part I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the novels particularly the last two so I was pleased as punch to receive a proof copy of The Silent Girl and I happily dug in.
I’m not going to give a huge history on the novels previously, as that would take a lot of explaining (!) but suffice to say, if you want to really know both Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles you should probably start with book one and work your way through the series. Because a lot of past cases are mentioned and some people will be confused and wonder what’s going on. The Silent Girl starts some months after (the brilliant) The Killing Place and we start by seeing Maura Isles testifying at the trial of a cop. (Not on his behalf, I may add). That didn’t add much to the book, it has to be said, but I think it’s setting the ground work for the Boston PD to not trust Maura as much (as is shown throughout The Silent Girl whenever Maura is called to a crime scene). But the real plot of the novel is the death of a girl on a roof in Chinatown. At first Jane Rizzoli is stumped as to how she was killed but as she learns more and more, secrets are revealed.
The Silent Girl is very much plot-focused; compared to The Killing Place which was very much focused on Maura, the personal lives of Rizzoli and Isles is put onto the backburner for this novel. Instead we’re introduced to Chinatown and its mythology. The book isn’t as gripping or suspenseful as previous novels, but the background to the entire plot is very much done well. Gerritsen has written a note on the back of the novel (of my proof copy, anyway) saying that the book was inspired by herself growing up as a Chinese-American and her history and the history of all Chinese-Americans is very much prevalent during the novel. So although it wasn’t a suspenseful novel, it was still rather creepy as Jane found herself wondering if there really was a ghost running through Chinatown killing people. I must admit, when I saw the note on the back and the word ‘ghosts’, I thought ‘Oh no’, but actually it’s not as I thought it was. And it just played into the Chinese mythology of the book. I’m a very ignorant person when it comes to other cultures but I thoroughly enjoyed learning the Chinese folklore.
The Silent Girl is a worthy addition to the Rizzoli/Isles series. Sure, it was vastly different to The Killing Place (and I must admit, that book is still very much in my memory!) but it’s a brilliant book in its own right. I did think the middle of the novel was slightly slower but I thought the ending of the book and the solving of the crime more than made up for it. It’s such a thrill to be back with Rizzoli, Isles and the rest of the team again. I’m totally shocked that this is book nine of the series but it’s not that surprising when I think of all the books that have already come! I am very much looking forward to book ten in the series (and then many more after that, hopefully). Most series peter out quickly, but Rizzoli and Isles is still going strong. The plots are always different, which I’m sure is what helps the series stay fresh. Tess Gerritsen is a brilliant writer and she is very much worthy of the crown of the Queen of crime writing. Her books are always effortless to read (when your heart’s not in fear of bursting out of your chest in fear mind) and the most important thing is all of her books are re-readable. I’d definitely recommend this book, and I would definitely recommend the entire series should you not already have read any of Tess’s novels in the series.