Monday, December 03, 2007
Tess Gerritsen, THE BONE GARDEN
Every now and then, a writer whose books I really like comes out with a book that kicks their work up to a whole new level. I'm talking about the kind of book where, instead of finishing it and going, "hey that was really good", I put it down and go "Whoa. THAT was freaking AMAZING." Robert Crais hit that kind of turning point with L.A. REQUIEM. Laura Lippman did it with EVERY SECRET THING. And now Tess Gerritsen's done it with THE BONE GARDEN.
It's a bit of a departure from Gerritsen's previous work, in that it's a least partly a historical mystery, set in 1830's Boston. I say "partly," because there's a modern-day investigation in which Gerritsen's Maura Isles character makes a cameo appearance. The main action, however, takes place in a past that Gerritsen renders in such perfect detail that you can almost see (and smell) it. There are some great characters, including a strong supporting role by Oliver Wendell Holmes--not the Supreme Court Justice, but his father, who later became the greatest physician of his day. Among the period touches are some truly harrowing descriptions of 19th century medicine, which Gerritsen (herself a physician) describes with the sort of chilling matter-of-factness that makes them all the more squirm-inducing. The plot, which revolves around a Jack the Ripper-esque character stalking the foggy Boston streets, moves along compellingly, with reversals, surprises, and heartbreaking sacrifices that keep you turning the pages right to the end. I couldn't put it down.
THE BONE GARDEN is Tess Gerritsen's best book so far. Check it out.