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Book Review: Ice Cold by Tess Gerritsen

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Tess Gerritsen’s newest Rizzoli and Isles book is a fantastic little suspense tale, but not exactly the Rizzoli and Isles I’d been expecting. Ice Cold is more Maura Isles-centric, more revealing of her life and current problems (dating a priest is a BIG problem) and of the decisions she’s going to have to make.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved the shift in the focus, but generally Rizzoli and Isles get embroiled in a murder investigation and that’s where the focus stays. Usually some aspect of the murder or the investigation will rope in the personal problems our two heroines are currently facing. This usual approach went off the tracks in the first chapter and just stayed there.

While Isles is out of town attending a medical conference, and she’s trying to figure out how she and Father Daniel Brophy are going to manage their relationship, keep quiet, and somehow feel connected without one of them giving up something major, she hooks up with an old colleague and his family and friends.

I really enjoyed the road trip Gerritsen takes her readers on. Everything felt real, and the moment-by-moment progression of the conflicts within the group really deepened the characters. I understood and knew each of them, and when things turned bad, I cared about them and didn’t want them to be hurt.

Some of the action is gut-churning and nerve-wracking in a form that the author has never delivered before. Amazingly, the biggest threat I felt through the whole novel is from nature – from the Wyoming cold and desperate situation Isles and the others find themselves in, as well as the rising conflicts between the characters.

Rizzoli gets relegated to a yo-yo in the background of this story. She’s there, but she doesn’t get to do as much as I would have liked. Of course, there’s not the usual investigation in this one either, so she’s as much out of her depth as Isles is.

Gerritsen has a lot of plot threads on the loose in this novel, and I was intrigued by all of them. The menace of Jeremiah Goode and the Kingdom Come religious community lurked around every corner and twisted through every shadow that fell on the ground.

I have to admit, though, I was jarred when the book shifted gears about two-thirds of the way through. The plotting made sense, but I felt like I was cast adrift for a while and had to find my way back. I’ve thought about it since reading the story and I’m satisfied it was the best way for the novel to go but I still felt like I’d missed something.

Since there’s one big decision hanging in the wings, I’m really looking forward to Gerritsen’s next novel in the series. Gotta see how things work out.

On another note, I’m really enjoying watching Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander portraying these two characters in the new television series. And for you rabid collectors of all things Rizzoli and Isles (and what fan isn’t), I just found out there’s a new Rizzoli and Isles short story online at the TNT home website. A new chunk of the story “Freaks” goes up every Monday.

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