Gerritsen (The Bone Garden, 2007, etc.) brings back Maura Isles, a Boston-based medical examiner, and her partner in crime solving, Det. Jane Rizzoli, in this often gory and always engrossing thriller set against a frozen Wyoming winter.
Maura, in the middle of an affair that is going nowhere—her lover is a priest, after all—jets off to Wyoming for a pathologists’ conference, where she runs into an old college friend. Doug, who has gone from nerdy guy to hunky doctor since she last saw him, is divorced with a spoiled, beautiful 13-year-old named Grace. When he asks Maura to join him, Grace and another couple for some skiing at a lodge a few hours away, the normally conservative Maura impulsively throws her lot in and goes for it. As with most Gerritsen tales, such lightly made decisions are soon regretted—and Maura’s decision to accompany Doug and Grace, along with food critic Arlo and his girlfriend, Elaine, soon becomes a struggle to survive. Guided by a GPS onto a remote mountain road, the group ends up stranded far from town. They make their way to a strange, abandoned settlement where it appears the residents have simply walked away from their lives, leaving their windows open, food on the table and their now dead pets behind. With no electricity or way to communicate with the outside world and one of the five desperately injured, Doug strikes out to find help. When he doesn’t return, Maura decides to follow him, with disastrous results. Soon, her friends in Boston—Jane, her FBI agent husband, Gabriel, and Daniel, the object of her illicit affair—come to Wyoming to locate the missing M.E. In the course of their investigation, they find much more than they bargained for, including a religious cult, a deepening mystery about the fate of those who once lived in the little settlement and a woman bent on avenging an old wrong.
While the ending feels rushed, Gerritsen, a physician whose novels are not for the squeamish, can always be counted on to deliver a yarn that’s start-to-finish entertaining. This one is no exception.