Find me online!

twittergoogle plusemail

November 22, 2009

Tess Gerritsen - Vanish

I've extolled the virtues of Tess Gerritsen's "Jane Rizzoli/Maura Isles" books here before, but I want to draw attention to an older one of hers that I feel is the best of the bunch.  Gerritsen has come close to topping it a few times, but she never quite has.  Vanish is the book that I read the fastest, mainly because it gripped me so tightly that I couldn't put it down.  If you don't want to tie yourself to a whole series, but also don't want a standalone (The Bone Garden is good for that), then you can't go wrong with Vanish.

Anyway, rather than review it here yet again, I'm going to post my Epinions review of it here.  I posted this on March 7, 2007. This is also an experiment, because this particular review has been getting a whole bunch of hits since March 2008 on Epinions.  Since there's no tracking hits there, I want to see if I can find out why that is.  Below the fold is the review, in its entirety (including the review header).

Piercing the underbelly of the international sex slave market

Tess Gerritsen just keeps churning out the extremely readable Jane Rizzoli/Maura Isles series of thrillers. Vanish is her best one yet, though. While Gerritsen has always been able to keep me reading, I've been able to put the book down to do other things occasionally. Not so this time. I finished Vanish in a day, mainly because of the perfect combination of plot, prose, and character. While certainly not perfect, this book is definitely at the top of my Gerritsen chart.

Pathologist Maura Isles is doing her routine work at the morgue when she hears a strange sound coming from the cooler where bodies are kept if they aren't immediately dissected. Upon entering, one of the bodies rises up and begins getting violent. Forcibly restrained and sent to the hospital, the young woman continues fighting against her restraints as the authorities try to determine who she is. When pregnant detective Jane Rizzoli's water breaks while she's in court, she ends up going to the same hospital. The woman breaks loose and a hostage situation develops. The investigation into the standoff after its resolution brings more questions and answers, and will lead Rizzoli and Isles on a race to discover the young woman's horrible past before it can be covered up by the government.

In the past, I've criticized Gerritsen's work for having both of her main characters defined essentially through their relationships with the men in their life, or at least through attraction to them. In Vanish, she largely avoids that, with the notable exception of Isles' huge attraction to a reporter that's heavily involved with the case. While that did get a bit annoying, Gerritsen's character work with Rizzoli and her husband (FBI agent Gabriel Dean) is so outstanding that I was able to forgive her. Rizzoli and Dean make a wonderful team, showcasing their love for one another while still keeping each one independently strong. They are two characters who happen to be together, with much more than their relationship defining them. I do wish Gerritsen would do *something* with Korsack, though. His unrequited love for Rizzoli grates on the nerves, and when he only appears in a scene or two it just distracts from everything else.

As for the plotting, Gerritsen once again begins the book with a scene that makes no sense to the rest of the plot until half-way through the book, though this time she doesn't wait quite as long before revealing the connection. I found this worked extremely well in Vanish, as even when we see the connection Gerritsen continues the flashbacks to show how the characters involved reached their current state. The descriptions of these scenes are sometimes more intriguing than the "current" plotline, and I loved how the ending of the novel tied directly into the beginning, showing exactly why these sequences are written the way they are.

What is truly excellent about this book is how Gerritsen breaks her plot down into its separate parts and shapes it so that the reader never knows what's coming next. Sure, I had an inkling of a couple things that might happen, but usually these feelings came right before Gerritsen chose to reveal the truth anyway. The ending is riveting with Rizzoli facing the horror of having her child (and her life) snatched away from her before she can ever truly become used to being a parent. I do have to say that I hope Gerritsen avoids using the "baby in danger" plotline too often, but here it works because it solidifies Rizzoli's parental feelings and how she resolves her internal dilemma about raising a child.

This seems like a broken record if you read a series of my reviews of Gerritsen's books, but she has such a reputation for gore that I feel I have to say it every time. While she pulls no punches in the autopsy scenes (and actually avoids the annoying personalization of them that bothered me in Body Double), the rest of the book isn't gross in the least. Disturbing, yes, but there is little gore outside the examination table.

Overall, Vanish is the best book by Gerritsen that I've read. It held me enthralled from beginning to end and the major crisis is heartbreaking in its reality (sex trafficking with young girls is such a huge problem, even today). Her prose is wonderful, the characters marvelous, and I dare you to put this book down before finishing it. It's that good.


Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.