LAST TO DIE
Written by Tess Gerritsen
Review written by LJ Hurst
Initially, L. J. Hurst worked in the backrooms of the media industry. He now divides his time between work for an international scientific publisher and a rather more British independent bookseller. In years past he was a regular attendee at the Shots on the Page Festivals from whence Shots Mag sprung
Released: 16th August 2012
This is the latest in Tess Gerritsen’s Rizzoli and Isles series, the ninth, tenth or eleventh, depending on how you count them. I have been remiss and previously read only THE SINNER, one of the early ones. I don’t remember either character in it, instead I remember the grotesque death of a pregnant nun and the later inventive punishment of an abusive father. Which means that I have missed The Mephisto Club and all their works, but they come into their own – for good or for bad – in LAST TO DIE.
LAST TO DIE is about paranoia and conspiracy, but like the good doctor she is in real life Tess Gerritsen cannot bear to leave loose ends and to tie them up she is prepared to leave bodies on the way. Parents dead, foster parents being murdered – two boys and a girl find their way to a boarding school in Maine, where a private foundation runs an orphanage for children who have lost all their families to violence, but one of the three – the special three – has passed through Boston, stamping groups of Detective Rizzoli and Doctor Isles. What is more, Maura Isles has placed her ward, taken under her wounded wing in a previous adventure, in the same institution. When dolls are found hanging in the woods and the teachers start to fly from the high roofs … well, teachers never fly. They die.
That Mephisto Club – does it have an interest in children dead as well as alive? The parents of the unfortunate three – what did they have in common? Seemingly good parents the records show – but were they morally good? As Isles tries to help at the school, Rizzoli is given three days to research the late parents and their backgrounds, and the story swings around as she visits two addresses which almost, only just exist, where for a short time no one is who they seem.
As the masks are dropped, a little more foreshadowing might have helped to link the chapters by giving that shock that says “I missed so-and-so but it was there all the time!” Paranoia, conspiracy and malevolent connections make for grim and gripping reading, while resolution and clarification tend to be anticlimactic, and LAST TO DIE is no exception, where the first two-thirds are more gripping than the last third. Still, will you ask how could it end this way, or even who deserves to end this way? Or recognise that the important question is not “Who was the last to die?” but “Who will be last?” The last death is yet to come.