Detective Rizzoli and M.E. Maura Isles are back in one of Rizzoli and Isles’ most gruesome adventures yet. In a series known for grisly murders, that says quite a bit. You see, avid hunter and taxidermist Leon Gott has just been found eviscerated and hanging upside down in his own home. As if that wasn’t enough, there’s a second set of entrails on the crime scene–and the extra set doesn’t even belong to a human.
From there, Rizzoli and Isles embark on an investigation trying to piece together the details of Gott’s murder, the missing body of a snow leopard, a zookeeper’s suspicious death, and more. We also flash back and forth between the investigation Rizzoli and Isles are pursuing and a safari trip from hell (think And Then There Were None and you’re on the right track). Gerritsen usually opens her Rizzoli and Isles books with a glimpse into the past, but whether or not that flashback becomes part of the story has always been kind of shaky. It’s nice to see one of them fleshed out and developed. The storyline, following a woman who went on the fateful safari in a last desperate bid to save her relationship, elevates the rest of the novel for being so captivating. I frequently found myself wanting to get back to that storyline. It also subtly hints at Gerritsen’s usual themes of female empowerment as this woman gradually figures out her surroundings–and what she is capable of.
The regular narration is usually dominated by either Rizzoli or Isles–who seem to alternate being the focal point of Gerritsen’s novels. This is the first time I can remember both ladies getting to alternate viewpoints within the same novel, and it works well. Not only does it allow us to follow the central mystery from all vantage points, it lets us into the minds of three powerful women as they navigate their lives and their professions. It also boosts the sense of friendship between the two ladies–something you’ve always seen more of in the TV incarnation than on the page. For once, they seem to have a substantial relationship beyond just a mutual respect.
Coming off the lull that was Last to Die, Die Again is a nice rebound for the Rizzoli and Isles series.
For more Rizzoli and Isles, check out the rest of my series rundown.