Tag Archives: Playing with Fire

February 2016 Reads

This monthly feature came about because I can’t get my brain together to review everything. So what did I read, and what did I think of them? In case you haven’t been following my Goodreads, read on:

R. L. Stine: The Lost Girl: 2 stars
Lisa Scottoline: Look Again: 4 stars
Tess Gerritsen: Playing with Fire: 3 stars: Review
Shirley Jackson: The Sundial: 2 stars: Review

THE LOST GIRL
Only memorable thing: A person is covered in honey, oats thrown onto them, then pent-up starved houses are let out to EAT THE PERSON TO DEATH. No rescue from that, either.

LOOK AGAIN
It’s been years since I read a Lisa Scottoline book, but so glad I decided to catch up on her backlist. Probably would not recommend this to anyone who’s adopted a child. A journalist comes across an age-progressed picture of a missing child…who looks just like her son. A fast-paced twister, this is a great re-introduction to Lisa Scottoline’s storytelling. Hopefully it won’t take me as long to get to her next novel!

[REVIEW] Playing with Fire – Tess Gerritsen

Tess Gerritsen
Playing with Fire
Random House (US & CA: 27th October 2015; AU: 2nd November 2015; UK: 5th November 2015)
Buy (US Kindle Edition) Buy (US Hardcover) Buy (UK Kindle Edition) Buy (UK Hardcover) Buy (UK Paperback) Buy (CA Kindle Edition) Buy (CA Hardcover) Buy (Worldwide Hardcover) Buy (Worldwide Paperback)

WARNING: Involves the Holocaust, often with graphic detail.

NOTE: Author Tess Gerritsen, also a trained musician, composed an accompanying piece for this novel. “Incendio”, performed by Yi-Jia Susanne Hou (who composed additional violin cadenza) on violin and Peter Longworth on piano, is available on Spotify here. The piece is part of the story’s plot, though in the book its composition is credited to one of the characters.

I’ve fallen terribly behind on the Rizzoli & Isles series of novels, but thought I’d get back into Tess Gerritsen’s work with this standalone. Had the author been someone else, I likely wouldn’t have tried it. A contemporary jet-setting thriller, with historical elements, is far from my cup of tea.

Having read the author’s blog and social media beforehand, I knew the spoiler going into the novel. Whether this affected my enjoyment of it, I’m not sure. I understand what the author tried to do with this story, but its execution consists of two different ideas that just aren’t stitched together well enough.

Surprisingly, the historical content interested me far more than the contemporary. I didn’t know much about the Holocaust in Italy, and while it’s difficult to read about, it’s also important to learn. At the camps, leaders used some of the captives to serve as musicians, which may have saved their lives, but at what cost?

The contemporary component has two plots: Julia’s daughter killed the family cat and injured Julia; meanwhile, Julia’s become obsessed with finding out more about the creation of “Incendio”. It’s the latter which brings down the book when it suddenly becomes a “you have the manuscript, therefore you must die” story of assassins hunting her down. Yeah, that kind of comes out of nowhere and is rather brief, with telling rather than showing.

And so the novel’s quality suffers because the connection between contemporary and historical isn’t strong enough to live up to the otherwise great ideas. Not a bad read, but not one I’d be quick to recommend.