While on vacation last month, I read Tess Gerritsen’s The Keepsake, which was a good enough read. I have to admit that although I’ve read one or two of Gerritsen’s early Harlequin suspense books, I’d never read one of her pure suspense books, or anything from her Rizzoli & Isles series. I’m not a fan of the TV adaptation, finding the acting of Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander to be pretty painful, but knowing that the series was about a female detective and a female forensic pathologist did lead me to picking up a copy at the used bookstore.
Anyway, this past weekend I found myself at a grocery store with a fairly large selection of books, heavy on the categories and bestsellers, but with a variety of other books, including Gerritsen’s The Mephisto Club.
The Latin phrase is scrawled in blood at the scene of ayoung woman’s brutal murder: I HAVE SINNED. It’s a chilling Christmas greeting for Boston medical examiner Maura Isles and Dective Jane Rizzoli, who swiftly link the victim to the sinister Mephisto Club, a cult of scholars who aim to prove that Satan himself exists among. Then, with the grisly appearance of another corpse, it’s clear that someone — or something — is indeed prowling the city. Soon the members of the club begin to fear the very subject of their study. Could the maniacal killer be one oftheir own — or have the inadvertently summoned an entity from the darkness? Delving deep into the most baffling case of their careers, Maura and Jane embark on a terrifying journey to the heart of evil.
The back blurb makes this book sound much more woo-woo than it really is. The Mephisto Club really does believe that demons in the form of Nephilim walk the earth, which explains the evil that science labels as sociopath or psychopath. But they don’t really aim to prove anything; instead they are watchers or crime-fighters of sorts at a very high level. They summoned nothing and wasted no time on that possibility. The killer was not maniacal; he was methodical and practiced and very, very cold blooded about what he was doing. Was he descended from Nephilim? He thought so and so did his mother.
The book read very quickly — it was very well paced and everything fit together.
But somehow I don’t feel compelled to read the next book of the series. I mentioned to Keishon in the comments to yesterday’s post that the other Rizzoli & Isles left me feeling the same way. I haven’t figured out exactly what the problem is; I ought to love this series: female ME, female detective, set in a city I like. And yet both books left me feeling sort of flat. Maybe I should have begun with the first book of the series, so that I would have some investment in the two main characters? That’s the key, I think, I don’t really care about either protagonist or feel engaged by her, and I’m accustomed to that when reading suspense and/or mysteries. Both should be very sympathetic characters to me. And yet…
I’ve been trying to figure out what Gerritsen is doing with the two women, as narrative tools or what-have-you. One is well-educated and successful, presumably well-known in her field, and she seems to have financial resources; she’s also the daughter of a psychopath, or so I gather from comments made by other characters in this book. And she’s a divorcee who has just embarked on an affair with a priest within this book. The other is rougher around the edges, successful in her field but with less material resources, surrounded by a blue-collar family, and in what appears to be a successful marriage. Is the subtext that education and reason are irrelevant when it comes to the heart, which wants what it wants? Or is there no subtext at all?
Being non-christian, the idea of an affair with a priest does not offend any religious sensibilities I might possess. But regardless of one’s position on the wisdom of a celibate clergy or the Catholic Church in general, it seems like a poor life choice; like a regular married man who will never leave his wife for his girlfriend or lover, it seems unlikely that Father Brophy will abandon the Church. Once again, I have no idea what the backstory to their relationship is, and maybe if I’d read it as it developed over a period of books I’d be less frustrated by Maura’s choice and more sympathetic.
Eh, I don’t know.
I’m reading Jo Nesbo’s Headhunters right now, and am going to get a copy of the new Eve Dallas book tomorrow.