All her pages suffused purple from lividity, Doc Gerritsen’s morgue slab awaits you, reader.
Brilliantly, Gerritsen (The Apprentice, 2002, etc.) has her regular Boston Homicide Detective Jane Rizzoli play second lead to Medical Examiner Maura Isles, known as the Queen of the Dead, who autopsies all of Jane’s vics and supplies more deliciously grisly pages this time than in Gerritsen’s last two outings combined. While Rizzoli handles the crimes, Dr. Isles delivers arias on death and the sweet hell of human existence. And as much of this plays out against the frozen stones of Graystones Abbey—a nunnery where a youthful nun lies battered to death and an aged nun, also battered, is dying—as under Isles’s examining scalpel and X-ray photos of crushed skulls and bullet fragments scattered about a vic’s sternum. But Isles and Rizzoli are enmeshed and struggling as well with richly detailed love lives that have the reader suffering right along with the two leads, with Isles panting after her world-hopping divorced saint of a doctor-husband and Rizzoli fighting her lust for the FBI agent she bedded in The Apprentice—something she must pay for now. Autopsy reveals that the dead young nun had just given birth (no one knew she was pregnant) before being murdered in the midnight chapel. Where’s the baby? Another murder pops up in a deserted Italian restaurant: a woman with her hands and feet removed and her face stripped off. Why her feet? Or her face? Now, that’s enough. “A place of death has a power all its own. Long after the body is removed and the blood scrubbed away, such a place still retains the memory of what has happened there. It holds echoes of screams, the lingering scent of fear. And like a black hole, it sucks into its vortex the rapt attention of the living, who cannot turn away, cannot resist a glimpse into hell.”
Glorious deaths bursting with the guilty glow of sex.