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Books 2-3: The Silent Girl and The Blue Demon

Book 2: The Silent Girl (Rizzoli & Isles 09) .
Author: Tess Gerritsen, 2011.
Genre: Crime. Police Procedural.
Other Details: Hardback. 336 pages.

During a Ghost Tour of Boston's Chinatown, a severed hand is discovered in an alley and close by the police find a gun complete with silencer. Detective Jane Rizzoli is the first to locate the rest of the body on a roof-top: a woman dressed all in black, her head nearly severed. She has no identification though when they find her car its GPS holds the addresses of Louis Ingersoll, a retired homicide detective, and a martial arts academy. At the academy they meet its owner, Iris Fang, whose husband had been murdered nineteen years previously at the Red Phoenix Restaurant during an incident in which its cook went amok and shot four people and then himself. Detective Ingersoll had been lead detective on that case.

Thus begins what I consider possibly the best novel in this series to date. I won't say too much more about the plot except to say that the investigation opens up to look into the disappearances, also some years previously, of two teenage girls related to the victims who died at the Red Phoenix.

Tess Gerritsen is one of my favourite crime writers and I've also followed her blog for years, so was aware that this novel was more personal given that for the first time she was writing about the Asian-American experience. She blends in aspects of Chinese lore and legend and introduces an intriguing new character - Johnny Tam, an aspiring detective. Hope to see more of him in the future. My only quibble with the novel is that we don't get enough development in terms of Rizzoli and Isles personal lives though perhaps given how heavy the previous book (Ice Cold) was in that respect for Maura it is understandable. Just hoping that this series runs and runs and also so pleased about success of the TV series and higher profile that is giving to this excellent series of novels and to Gerritsen in general.

My first novel about who I am - Tess writing about the personal aspects of The Silent Girl.

Book 3: The Blue Demon (Nic Costa 08).
Author: David Hewson, 2009
Genre: Crime. Thriller. Politics- Terrorists/Spys.
Other Details: Hardback. 392 pages.

Published in US as City of Fear, this outing for Nic and his colleagues is set in Rome during a G8 summit. When a minor politician is kidnapped Costa and his boss Falcone are summoned by Italian president, Dario Sordi. They learn that a home-grown terrorist group known as The Blue Demon, long thought inactive, has seemingly revived and is threatening to bring chaos to the city for the summit. Sordi, once a close friend of Nic's late father, believes more is going on and asks Nic and his colleagues to look into the background of this group focusing upon its leader, a former professor of Etruscan studies, Andrea Petrakis. Quite quickly this covert project clashes with intelligence agencies as well as attracts the attention of the Blue Demon group.

Hewson often draws on Roman history and here links back to the pre-Roman Etruscans and Imperial Rome. He also quite subtly blends real life politics with fictional elements and due to this he provides quite a detailed author's note at the conclusion of the novel. As always I found this quite fascinating and especially enjoyed his references to Robert Graves' I, Claudius and Claudius the God, two of my favourite works of historical fiction.

Although I love this series and its characters, I found as with The Sacred Cut, Book 3 in the series, that with the complex politics and the various cross and double-crosses between intelligence organisations and the like led to my having some trouble following sections of the plot. Still this may well have been down to my own issues as this was the first book that I read after coming off the medication that effected my ability to concentrate. If this book had not been due back at the library, I would have likely deferred it until my brain was a little more with it. Still a fascinating story.

David Hewson on 'The Blue Demon' and politics - some background on the writing of the novel.
Tags: crime fiction, political thriller, thriller
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