THE SILENT GIRL
By Tess Gerritsen
Ballantine Books 2011 (July 5, 2011)
I had the temptation to write this review “Jeopardy” style giving you the answers and then you finding the corresponding question. Why? Because there is so much detailed information given in Tess Gerritsen’s tenth entry in the Rizzoli and Isles mystery series.
First of all, the book is written mostly from the point of view of Boston Homicide Detective Jane Rizzoli, but occasionally it switches to another character. While firmly rooted in today, the book refers often to events from 19 years ago. Multiple families and detectives are involved. There are three distinct lines of crime interwoven with each other. If I had this book as an assignment to write, I think I would have a huge white board covered with scribbles to help me keep everything straight because as the author, I wouldn’t want to confuse the reader by slipping up even once. As a reviewer, I made a mini version of just that, and it measures 8 ½ x 11 inches.
I hope I haven’t scared you away. In the end, I didn’t need my “cheat sheet,” and neither will you. Tess Gerritsen is a master of storytelling. The fact that she can tell a multi-level story in multiple layers of time and bring them all together in the end shows how phenomenal an author she is. And these aren’t just nice stories about the weather. These are solid mysteries with lots of suspense and thrills that tingle your spine and set your hair on end.
In today’s time period, we are quickly introduced to murder. A severed hand is found on the street in
Boston’s Chinatown, so the homicide squad is called. It is dark, but Jane Rizzoli and her partner Bobby Frost go up to the roof of the nearby building where they find the body the hand belonged to with its throat almost slashed through. The people in Chinatown are fearful and say many ghosts live there. By dawn medical examiner Dr. Maura Isles is checking over the body to allow it to be moved. One thing beyond the obvious stands out as unusual – several silver strands of hair on the victim’s black clothing.
The victim had a GPS unit with two locations input – one is for retired Detective Lou Ingersoll’s home where we are introduced to one plot pointing to the past – the disappearances of many young girls over 20 years ago. In addition, by the time Jane and Bobby reach Ingersoll’s house, he has been murdered. The perpetrator is just fleeing the scene so Jane and rookie Detective Tam chase after him for several blocks when Jane suddenly receives assistance in stopping the perpetrator and saving her own life. She sees the same face Bobby Frost saw on that rooftop of a tall monkey with a black face and silver hair and carrying some kind of sword that makes a swooshing sound through the air when used. Now Jane begins to doubt herself until Bobby verifies her story and pulls a few of those silver hairs from her blood-soaked clothing.
Getting back to the lab with Lou Ingersoll’s body, both Bobby and Jane talk with Maura Isles. She does not help them feel any better. She has just received word from a wildlife institute where she sent one of those gray hairs; they belong to a monkey. When the three look up a photo, it is exactly what Bobby and Jane have seen. Seeing the same photo, Detective Tam walks over to them and explains the Chinese legend of the Monkey King. “He is from sacred flesh and travels to heaven to learn the wisdom of the gods, but he gets into all sorts of trouble. He is not evil, just impulsive and mischievous, like a real monkey.” There are many, many stories of him doing both good and causing trouble. Almost like fairy tales or today’s superheroes. Now we have all learned something based in the past intertwined with something in the present day. It gives me chills.
The second entry in the GPS unit of the murdered woman from the rooftop was that for the Dragon and Stars Martial Arts Academy run by Iris Fang. All are surprised when she acknowledges that she knows Lou Ingersoll.
Criminal psychologist Lawrence Zucker puts the detectives’ confusion straight when he explains the biggest piece from the past, one that retired Detective Ingersoll was looking into . . . Nineteen years ago there was a massacre at the Red Phoenix Chinese Restaurant. The owner and cook, Wu Weimin, came out of the kitchen and killed his waiter and friend, James Fang, husband to Iris Fang. Customer Joey Gilmore, waiting for his boss’s takeout order, was shot in the back of his head; Joey’s boss was a man connected to organized crime. Diners Arthur Mallory, CEO of an investment firm, and his new wife Dina Mallory were murdered next. And then Wu Weimin shot himself. Weimin was a married Chinese illegal immigrant whose wife and daughter disappeared quickly after he died. According to Zucker, this was a case of “amok” followed by suicide. Jane described it more like “going postal.” Somehow Ingersoll saw a connection to the fact that Laura Fang, then 14 years old, vanished two years before her father died. Charlotte Dion, daughter of Dina Mallory, disappeared while on a school field trip at age 17.
There is more investigation into the girls disappearing, but I don’t want to spoil the story or the ending of this awesome mystery. There are many, many more details, clues, and investigation into all the aspects of the massacre and Ingersoll’s death. How Tess Gerritsen ties them all up, quite satisfactorily, too, is amazing. We even learn more about the monkey king.
I have always been a fan of Tess Gerritsen’s writings. From the first suspense/thriller she wrote, HARVEST, I have enjoyed her books. They have all been impressive. THE SILENT GIRL is no different. It is a spectacular work of art, a magnificent novel. I don’t think the girl was quite so silent after all.
Tess Gerritsen's website is www.tessgerritsen.com.
Tess Gerritsen's website is www.tessgerritsen.com.