When a new Tess Gerritsen book comes out, itís a no-brainer that Iím going to be picking it up. This was the case when I saw that Ice Cold, the new Rizzoli & Isles book, was on the shelf, prominently labelled with the ďNow a series on TNTĒ crest (a series Iím also enjoying). Gerritsen continues to explore these fascinating characters as she gives us a new mystery to gnaw on. While this isnít the greatest example of Gerritsenís prowess, it is a decent novel that does a good job in changing some of the mythology of the series.
Bostonís Chief Medical Examiner, Dr. Maura Isles, has been stuck in a secret relationship with a priest, allowing only brief liaisons that only make her hunger for more in her life. So when sheís at a forensics conference in Colorado and happens upon an old classmate - a man whoís both attractive and single - she finds herself opening up - so much so that she agrees to join him, his daughter and their two friends on a jaunt to a mountain cabin in the wilds of the state. When heavy snow forces them off the road, they find an abandoned village nestled in a valley - a village seemingly abandoned so quickly that food was left on tables. When Isles disappears, Rizzoli, a Boston Homicide detective and Islesís best friend, must track down what happened to her before the secret of that village ends up costing even more lives - perhaps even that of Dr. Maura Isles.
Gerritsen has slowly been developing Isles and her romantic entanglements over the last few books. Ice Cold, carries this to completion, or at least it appears to. While Isles is a wonderful character, she has been far too morose and willing to look at things in a physical manner (often the first thing she sees when a man comes around is the quality of his looks). This may be coming to an end as she realizes that this ďrelationshipĒ with the priest has no good ending. Heís not going to leave the Church, despite the fact that heís sinning against it every time they sneak in a quick one. Sheís doomed to be lonely 95 percent of the time.
This all comes out during the interaction between Isles and the classmate who recognizes her at the conference, though not because she blabs about it. Itís meeting him and seeing what he has to offer that does it. She doesnít do things on a whim; itís not part of her nature. When she decides to go against that because it will mean a break from her old personality, she grows as a character, even if it doesnít quite work out the way she wanted it to.
This is definitely Islesís book. Rizzoli takes a back seat, despite being prominent during the middle part of the book when itís unclear whether Isles is actually alive or not (despite the obvious, Gerritsen actually does a pretty good job with the head fake here). After a number of Rizzoli books, itís good to see her in the role of a more supporting character.
Most of Gerritsenís books express some kind of social consciousness; Ice Cold, isnít any different. Here she examines extremist cults in which the leaders take child brides and run their flocks with an iron fist, removing them from civilization. We get to see just how tied up they can get with small-town politics (maybe thatís why so many of them are situated near these towns?).
Gerritsenís fluid writing flies by. I havenít been reading books very quickly recently, but this was one book I couldnít put down thanks to a combination of Gerritsenís characters and her prose. She sets the scene well. This was another cold-weather book read in the middle of summer, yet it still managed to elicit a shiver or two from me as she describes just how frigid Islesís predicament is.
I greatly enjoyed the book, although itís nowhere near Gerritsenís best (thatís still Vanish). Itís hard to quantify why that is - itís just the general feeling that the book gave me. Itís typical Gerritsen, and perhaps the feeling comes from the fact that itís not more than that.
Donít get me wrong. You should definitely pick up Ice Cold if you get the chance, especially if itís the only Gerritsen book that you can find. But if you can find others, start with them first. This one will wait.