The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

February 25, 2013

Phyllis Seesengood: New Gerritsen novel intense

By Phyllis Seesengood
Globe Columnist

JOPLIN, Mo. — "Last to Die" is the 10th and most recent novel in the "Rizzoli and Isles" thriller series by Tess Gerritsen.

"Rizzoli and Isles" is also a popular TV series on TNT. I have not seen any episodes of the series, but I have read the last two novels of the series, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I hope to read the other novels, starting with the first one, and I intend to watch a few episodes of the television series to see how it compares with the books.

Jane Rizzoli is a Boston detective and Maura Isles is a medical examiner. The pair have had a falling out, so there is some tension between the two women when they meet up on a case. They manage to put their differences aside to work on the latest case that involves teenager Teddy Clock.

Teddy has survived two mass murders that claimed the lives of his biological family and then his foster family. Jane fears that Teddy's life may be in danger also, so she whisks him away to Evensong, a private, very secluded boarding school for troubled teens, where she trusts he will be safe.

Evensong's isolation is intended to promote a sense of security, but also increases the potential for danger.

Maura and Jane learn that the school is run by the mysterious Mephisto society. Anthony Sansone, a character in previous novels, is a member of the society and sits on the board of Evensong. It is a school where all students and teachers have survived traumatic incidents and where the students are taught survival skills.

Maura has a connection to Evensong, a teen named Julian Perkins. She is looking forward to her visit with Julian, a 16-year-old who has been living at Evensong for a few months.

Maura, Julian and Bear, Julian's dog, shared a harrowing adventure in the Wyoming wilderness a few months ago. Maura owes her life to Julian. Maura doesn't have any children, so she has taken on a kind of "mom role" with Julian.

While Maura is visiting Julian at Evensong, she learns that Teddy is not alone in losing both of his families to murder. Two more teenagers that live at Evensong, Will Yablonski and Claire Ward, have both been orphaned in the past couple of years, when first each teen's parents were brutally murdered, and then both of their foster parents met the same fate.

There seems to be no connection between the three teens other than strange history of the murders of their parents and foster parents. In each family, only one child survives. This cannot be a coincidence, can it?

Strange happenings begin occurring at the school including the discovery of blood-spattered dolls hanging from a tree and the tragic suicide of one of the teachers. Jane and Maura are left wondering what the dolls mean and if the suicide was truly a suicide.

Are the students really safe at Evensong? They race to find a link between the orphans before the murderer can finish the job not completed the first time.

I am pleased that I had at least read "Ice Cold," the previous novel in the series, so that I got a more complete sense of the relationship between Maura and Julian. Anthony Sansone appears briefly in both thrillers also, and I can't help but wonder if he and Maura may have more of a relationship in the next novel. Previously Maura had ended an inappropriate and damaging affair, and there seems to be an attraction between these two characters.

Tanya Eby brings these characters to life in the audio version and she is a terrific narrator for this series. She puts the Boston in their voices and provides just the right touch of humor in certain situations. The pacing and characterization is just right for this thriller.

In addition to the audio version of this book, the Joplin Public Library has text and downloadable versions available.

 

Phyllis Seesengood is technical services librarian for the Joplin Public Library.