The latest in the Rizzoli and Isles series (Die Again, 2014, etc.) mixes martyrdom, murder, and mystery.
Indie filmmaker Cassandra Coyle’s body is found with what medical examiner Maura Isles calls “bilateral globe enucleation” and what Boston homicide detective Jane Rizzoli calls “someone cut out her eyeballs.” The corpse reminds Isles and her priest friend of Lucy, patron saint of the blind. More strange murders follow, apparently mimicking the terrible deaths of other saints. Timothy McDougal, for example, dies with three arrows in his chest, like Sebastian, patron saint of archers. Meanwhile, Rizzoli and Isles learn that Coyle and her associates had been making Mr. Simian, a horror flick featuring similar killings. Coyle and the other victims, all young adults, were among the accusers 20 years earlier of a man named Martin Stanek in the Apple Tree Daycare child molestation scandal, and they have all died since his release from prison. So Stanek looks good for the murders, but as a Coyle colleague says: “Horror 101…the killer’s always the person you least suspect.” Young Lizzie DiPalma disappeared from the school back then, and her presumed murder remains a mystery. Another former student, Bill Sullivan, now is missing and perhaps dead, and Rizzoli puzzles over the cause of death in two more apparent homicides. Into this gruesome mix are added the personal lives of Rizzoli and Isles—Isles visits her dying biological mother, Almalthea Lank, a convicted serial killer serving multiple life sentences. Luckily, Isles was adopted away from her “family of monsters” and raised well, proving that “one’s true family is defined not by DNA but by love.” Gerritsen’s fans won’t be surprised at the grisly crimes or the graphic autopsies—not for nothing is Dr. Maura Isles nicknamed “Boston’s Queen of the Dead.”
One character's statement that “sometimes up really is down” applies to this complex and enjoyable story. It’s a worthy addition to the series.