Thursday, January 29, 2015

Die Again - Tess Gerritsen

Detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles are back—and they’re going into the wild to find a killer. Die Again is the latest heart-pounding thriller in Tess Gerritsen’s New York Times bestselling series, the inspiration behind TNT’s hit show Rizzoli & Isles.
When Boston homicide detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles are summoned to a crime scene, they find a killing worthy of the most ferocious beast—right down to the claw marks on the corpse. But only the most sinister human hands could have left renowned big-game hunter and taxidermist Leon Gott gruesomely displayed like the once-proud animals whose heads adorn his walls. Did Gott unwittingly awaken a predator more dangerous than any he’s ever hunted?
Maura fears that this isn’t the killer’s first slaughter, and that it won’t be the last. After linking the crime to a series of unsolved homicides in wilderness areas across the country, she wonders if the answers might actually be found in a remote corner of Africa.
Six years earlier, a group of tourists on safari fell prey to a killer in their midst. Marooned deep in the bush of Botswana, with no means of communication and nothing but a rifle-toting guide for protection, the terrified tourists desperately hoped for rescue before their worst instincts—or the wild animals prowling in the shadows—could tear them apart. But the deadliest predator was already among them, and within a week, he walked away with the blood of all but one of them on his hands.
Now this killer has chosen Boston as his new hunting ground, and Rizzoli and Isles must find a way to lure him out of the shadows and into a cage. Even if it means dangling the bait no hunter can resist: the one victim who got away.

I came at this novel completely uneducated on Gerritsen's writing.  This is actually Her stock and trade is not far from Kathy Reichs' model - an off beat, single, anti-social pathologist and a down-to-earth, rough edged, street wise but venerable cop.  Not far from 'Bones' Brennan Maura Isles has issues talking to people and she's obsessed with various minute facts and details.  But she's a watered down version of Temperance.  We get very little than a one dimensional throw away insight into who she is.  Her profile as a single,  quirky, nit picking, and insular.  Not original.  Jane Rizoli is not original either.  She has children.  She's a working mum.  Her parents are splitting up, and she's on the mother's side.  These are all titbits.  But again none of this is more than a passing comment on her life.  We learn very little more. 

The story mostly revolves a number of unsolved gruesome murders and a first person account of a safari in Botswana that goes horribly wrong.  The lone survivor narrates her understanding of what occurred and her need to hide from the perceived killer.  There is a continuous overlaps between the present - solving a number of unrelated slayings and the story of the trip into the real bush.  In Botswana a group of un related people all meet and they bond to a degree, as people do.  Our narrator is slightly outcast, for no real reason.  Her boyfriend is a high powered testosterone author, but really a wimp seeking action for experience.  He's a bit of a cardboard cut out, as are the Japanese couple and the two blonde South African girls and the limp-wristed Mummy's boy, whose death, and his father's death inadvertently create a loose connection in the plot.  That is clever. And so is the connection between a perceived serial killer and the identity of the real killer.  Gerritson remains economical on details until they just seem to naturally fall out and into place just when they are needed.  That is a great mechanism in a book that has too many cliché's at time.  thank goodness the plot and the main focus remains good.  So, a mixed bag for this one.  If you want a bit of depth with your murder mysteries, then you're out of luck.  Being predominantly for the American airport literature market this will never be high fiction.  It's not as gross as some or as creepy as Jo Nesbo or as political as Stuart MacBride but it is a good read.  A bit simple, but not trashy.  A good yarn, as my mother sometimes says....and maybe that's enough sometimes.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Missing and The Dead - Stuart MacBride

The new Logan McRae novel from the No. 1 bestselling author of CLOSE TO THE BONE and A SONG FOR THE DYING.

One mistake can cost you everything…When you catch a twisted killer there should be a reward, right? What Acting Detective Inspector Logan McRae gets instead is a ‘development opportunity’ out in the depths of rural Aberdeenshire. Welcome to divisional policing – catching drug dealers, shop lifters, vandals and the odd escaped farm animal.

Then a little girl’s body washes up just outside the sleepy town of Banff, kicking off a massive manhunt. The Major Investigation Team is up from Aberdeen, wanting answers, and they don’t care who they trample over to get them.
Logan’s got enough on his plate keeping B Division together, but DCI Steel wants him back on her team.

As his old colleagues stomp around the countryside, burning bridges, Logan gets dragged deeper and deeper into the investigation.
One thing’s clear: there are dangerous predators lurking in the wilds of Aberdeenshire, and not everyone’s going to get out of this alive…

I utterly loved this.  Back were the whole gang of Scottish police nutcases, including Roberta Steel, McRae's old lazy as shite friend/boss.  She's larger than life and about as disgusting. MacBride has a macabre sense of humour.  He gets all the good guys into trouble.  McRae, at the opening of the book has just caught a paedophile but when the case finally comes to trial the weasel somehow gets off.  McCrae's bosses are livid and send him on a "Career Opportunity" in the boondocks of Scotland.  He's back in uniform dealing with a mysterious dead girl, missing persons, drug dealers and a hell of a lot of sheep on the roads. 

MacBride interweaves radio broadcasts, missed opportunities, interruptions and angst all together with tender moments around a mother desperately looking for her lost daughter (who might be the corpse in the pool - or not) and way too much police bureaucracy. Every time he opens his mouth, its shut by obnoxious, pipsqueak glory hunters from other 'more important' police units.  Yet somehow, despite throwing 'by-the-book' procedure to the wind McCrae manages to solve all the cases and get none of the credit, almost losing one girlfriend and gaining 'another' in the process. 

MacBride has really mastered this wonderful juxtaposition between humouring the trivial and the irritating against the dark matter of gruesome murders and taboo subjects like paedophilia and child deaths.  He makes no bones about either - everything is tarred with a thick coat of grime and left over pastry crumbs.  No wonder he's mobbed where ever he goes.  Book shops need security, yeah?

I loved this and recommend it above anything else you read this month!

Check Stuart's web site: