A not-for-the-squeamish murder mystery set in both Boston and Botswana.
The trouble starts on a safari in Botswana’s Okavango Delta. Former Londoner Millie Jacobson narrates in the present tense about her vacation to hell, from which she emerges much the worse for wear—but the others on the trip don’t emerge at all. Years later in Boston, Detective Jane Rizzoli and Medical Examiner Maura Isles investigate the death of renowned taxidermist Leon Gott, who never met a big animal he didn’t want to shoot and stuff. Through relentless digging, Rizzoli and Isles uncover connections between the two events. Jacobson’s chapters are filled with fear and tension; she’s a city woman who quickly learns that in the African bush, “every creature that’s born will ultimately be eaten.” Long after her ordeal should be over, Millie tells her 4-year-old daughter that “the world is a place of peace and light,” so the girl “does not know that monsters are real.” Oh, but Millie knows. Sitting at her computer one evening, “I click the mouse. I might as well have lit the fuse on a stick of dynamite.” Fans of the Rizzoli and Isles novels already know what to expect: a pair of smart women underestimated by some of their colleagues and with a knack for being where the gore is. They are sympathetic pros with problems of their own—Isles’ mother is dying in prison, and Rizzoli’s mom is “psychotically depressed.” The characters are strong—who can’t be intrigued by a name like Johnny Posthumus?—and the plot is tight and believable, except for the Boston Police Department’s springing for round-trip flights to and from Cape Town, South Africa. Readers may have to suspend disbelief on that detail, but the other seemingly disparate pieces fit together well.
Mystery lovers not familiar with the author’s work should brace themselves, because they might trip over a bucket of entrails. But they will also find a terrific storyteller.