The Sinner–Tess Gerritsen (Rizzoli & Isles 3)

The Sinner by Tess Gerritsen, is the third book of the Rizzoli & Isles series.

Amazon DVD links to the TV Series. Click on them. Buy stuff. Rizzoli & Isles: The Complete First Season (Amazon Play) and Rizzoli & Isles: Season 1 (DVD) Alright, enough of that!

Author notes in brief: Tess Gerritsen is a living Chinese-American author. Her Amazon page, Wikipedia page, and personal page have plenty of personal details. (Of interest, her first name is actually Terry, but she feminized it when she was writing romance novels. Source.) She initially wrote Romantic Suspense, through the 80s to the mid-90s, changed to Medical Thrillers, before embarking in 2001 into Crime Thrillers with the (at time of writing) eleven-book series featuring Detective Jane Rizzoli and Dr Maura Isles.

The third of Gerritsen’s series of novels focusing on the Boston police department, detectives, medical examiners, murder and mayhem. Book 1 (The Surgeon) focused on Thomas Moore, with Detective Jane Rizzoli a secondary character, and Dr Maura Isles not appearing at all. Book 2 (The Apprentice) has Jane Rizzoli taking over protagonist duties, and the Queen of the Dead, Dr Maura Isles making her debut. Here, with the The Sinner, Isles is finally sharing co-star duties with Rizzoli.

Note how I said finally? I’m still expecting somehow that the novels will spontaneously acquire the characters of the TV series. It’s definitely not going to happen. The glossy TV versions are too far away from the flawed novel characters.

A brutal attack on two nuns has left one of them dead, and the other in a coma. It is the depths of winter, and everything and everyone is affected by the cold, the snow, and the ice. Dr Isles’ ex-husband returns, and manages to worm his way back into her life, much to her libido’s pleasure common sense’s horror. Detective Rizzoli is trying to convince herself that her affair with Gabriel Dean ending is for the best. A state of affairs complicated by a, uh, complication. The majority of the novel is much more complicated and nuanced than the romantic highlights I’m giving. A Jane Doe who was murdered and then dismembered was found to have leprosy, and probably had been present in a village massacre where one of the nuns was performing aid work. (Good grief that was a complicated sentence.) Isles’ ex-husband is connected as well.

The plotting is improved over the first two books. The characterisation is better too–the characters are better-described, more nuanced, and the story is more complex. Gerritsen still has moments where a scene plays out, and then the characters react to the scene, and there is something of a disconnect between the two. It’s clear that the reaction is what is required for narrative purposes, but the writing wasn’t quite there on the scene.

My mind wandered a bit whilst I was reading this. It’s A Wonderful Life and Slumdog Millionaire (snow and winter, and poverty in India, respectively). It was an odd combination to be sure. There was a lot of religion in general, and Catholicism in particular, which I have opinions on. These opinions vary dramatically given the day and the length of time it’s been since I read about any of the horrors committed by members of the clergy or in the name of the church.

The book ends in a most unexpected way. Not wishing to spoil anything, but Rizzoli’s complication could be quite dramatic, and Dean appears more permanently present.

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  1. Pingback: Body Double–Tess Gerritsen (Rizzoli & Isles 4) | Book-type Musings

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