I’ve been told that you can give an artist the most hackneyed, the most overused, and the most simple idea and they can make something new of it that’s worth looking at. I don’t know that everyone can do that, but there are a select few that can.
Most writers are told there are only a handful of plots in the world. Literary professors seem convinced that every plot that has ever come out in American novels can be found within Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn. I’m not going to disagree with that assessment, but I am going to doubt it a little.
One thing for certain, Tess Gerritsen’s fourth Boston Police Department Homicide Detective Jane Rizzoli novel at first appears to be a writer in search of a plot. Medical Examiner Maura Isles came to the forefront of the last novel, The Sinner, and she remains the focus of this one.
The idea of a “mysterious twin” or “dark twin” is one of the oldest plot tricks in the book. Mark Twain performed his magic on the plot device in The Prince and the Pauper. Before that Alexandre Dumas did it with The Man in the Iron Mask and Anthony Hope used it in The Prisoner of Zenda.
Just as these other masters of fiction pulled successful rabbits out of their hats, Gerritsen does the same with Dr. Maura Isles and her murdered twin. During the course of this novel, Jane Rizzoli is sidelined to degree while in her eighth month of pregnancy. Her relationship with FBI Special Agent Gabriel Dean continues to grow in this one, although they have problems back and forth.
Isles’s provocative relationship with Father Daniel Brophy (barely touched on in The Sinner) looms larger in the series as both Isles and Brophy have to fight against temptation and old feelings that haven’t gone away.
The story opens in a gripping fashion with Isles arriving back at her house after a forensic conference in France. Police cars and Rizzoli are already at her address. When Rizzoli reveals the dead woman, Isles is blown away. The woman looks just like her.
Enough to be her twin.
In fact, subsequent forensic investigation reveals that the dead woman has to be Isles’s sister. Their blood work and even their DNA matches. Isles was raised as an adopted child and had no clue that she had a blood family, much less an identical twin.
After digging into the dead woman’s background, Isles and Rizzoli discover that she – like Isles – was adopted. In fact, the same lawyer attended to the placement of both children.
Driven by her need to know who she really is and who her family was – not out of curiosity, but out of self-preservation – Isles begins the painful search for her true roots. The trail is twisted and filled with a lot of unpleasant surprises. More than that, Rizzoli becomes convinced that Isles is tracking a serial killer whose work fantasies involve killing pregnant women – which makes Rizzoli a prime target.
Body Double is a compelling experience that drags the readers through the pages at a frantic gallop. Although some of the plot at times feels familiar, Gerritsen brings so much to it that is new. This novel is definitely one of the most tense of the series and delivers a slambang ending.
Gerritsen’s newest novel, The Bone Garden, is a stand-alone and not a Rizzoli and Isles book. However, from the description it sounds like a roller-coaster ride waiting to happen. Unfortunately, fans of Rizzoli and Isles are going to have to wait at least one more year for another tale.