Demons-’R-Us in this formulaic entry by one of the queens of the romance/thriller hybrid (Body Double, 2004, etc.).
It’s a very un-merry Christmas Eve for both Boston Medical Examiner Dr. Maura Isles and her friend and colleague Detective Jane Rizzoli, who find themselves called to Beacon Hill on business—an exceptionally brutal business. A young woman has been murdered, decapitated, dismembered, and on her bedroom wall, drawn in blood, there’s a gnomic message left by her killer: three upside-down crosses and some symbols that at the moment defy interpretation. Enter the Mephisto Club, a kind of international think tank (read: symbol-unravellers) dedicated to the pursuit of unhappiness for all infernal creatures. Convinced that demons walk among us—on the surface indistinguishable from ordinary folk—Mephisto members make their expertise available to law-enforcement organizations such as Interpol, Scotland Yard and now the Boston PD. Skeptical Jane isn’t all that impressed. Maura is sort of on the fence as to Satan-real or Satan-metaphor, but is less than focused on the issue. Actually, neither lady is quite her single-minded self these days. Jane is distracted by the flare-up in her parents’ home. Her father may be philandering; her mother has retaliated with short skirts, push-up bras and come-hither looks. As for Maura, so smitten is she with handsome priest Father Daniel Brophy (“If I could sell my soul to Satan for your love, I think I would”) that she is, in effect, benched. Nevertheless, the investigation does progress, and finally the suspects are all collected, Agatha Christie–like, in a remote mountain lodge, for the dénouement.
Some sizable plot holes, some purplish prose (“Friendships are broken all the time, so are hearts”), but the Gerritsen fan base will survive intact.