Tess Gerritsen has forged some of the most visceral thrillers of the modern era in such books as The Surgeon, as kinetically involving as one could wish for, with a welcome reluctance to pull punches for her readers (the very thing, in fact, that her legion of admirers praise her for). Her heroines, detective Jane Rizzoli and medico Maura Isles, are distinctive figures, with a host of striking traits (the new book, Keeping The Dead, deliberately sidelines these traits for a narrative that fairly barrels along; something that won’t necessarily give regular admirers of Gerritsen pause, but which perhaps means that the book is not the best place for new readers to start).
At Pilgrim Hospital, reporters and doctors are gathered for a highly unusual event. A dead woman is placed under an X-ray, with Maura Isles looking on with interest. However, the twist is that the subject has been dead for many years – it is not someone recently dead, but a centuries-old mummy. To the surprise of everyone present, the x-ray reveals that a bullet is lodged in the body, and Maura contacts her colleague, Detective Jane Rizzoli. What began as a historical investigation has, it seems, become a case of homicide. Soon, unpleasant revelations are found hidden behind a wall in a museum owned by a venerable family. Before long the two women realise that they are dealing with a killer of ruthless intelligence who is toying with them. As usual with Gerritsen the tension in Keeping the Dead is generated with skill, though there is less of the inexorable build-up than we are used to. --Barry Forshaw