Sunday, April 11, 2010

Review: The Keepsake by Tess Gerritsen

The Keepsake (Book 7 in the Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles Series)
by Tess Gerritsen
2008 Ballantine Books
Hardcover Edition; 355 Pages
Genre: Thriller/Suspense

4 / 5 Stars

Summary (Press Release)
For untold years, the perfectly preserved mummy had lain forgotten in the dusty basement of Boston Crispin's Museum.  Now its sudden rediscovery by museum staff is both a major coup and an attention-grabbing mystery.  Dubbed "Madam X", the mummy - to all appearances, an ancient Egyptian artifact - seems a ghoulish godsend for the financially struggling institution.  But medical examiner Maura Isles soon discovers a macabre message hidden within the corpse - horrifying proof that this "centuries-old" relic is instead a modern-day murder victim.

To Maura and Boston homicide detective Jana Rizzoli, the forensic evidence is unmistakable, its implications terrifying.  And when the ghastly remains of yet another woman are found in the hidden recesses of the museum, it becomes chillingly clear that a maniac is at large - and is now taunting them.

Archaeologist Josephine Pulcillo's blood runs cold when the killer's cryptic missives are discovered, and her darkest dread becomes real when the carefully preserved corpse of yet a third victim is left in her car like a gruesome offering - or perhaps a ghastly promise of what's to come.

The twisted killer's familiary with post-mortem rituals suggests to Maura and Jane that he may have scientific expertise in common with Josephine.  But only Josephine knows that her stalker shares a knowledge even more personally terrifying: details of a dark secret she had thought forever buried.

My Thoughts
In this novel, Tess Gerritsen blends superb storytelling with a great plot that left me quickly turning the pages in thrall.  I was hooked right from the beginning, caught up in the suspense, with plot twists and turns that left me guessing right until the end.  As soon as I thought I had it all figured out, the author would throw in another twist, and I'd have to start all over again, trying to fit the pieces together.  There were quite a few surprises and some plot twists I was not expecting at all.  This is unusual for me, as I am usually pretty quick to figure out who did it in a novel such as this.

What I really liked in this novel is that the plot flows quickly, from detail to detail, without a lot of things bogging down the mind.  Everything in the novel has a purpose, every event is important, and you can miss important details if you don't pay attention to the dialogue.  The language is clear and crisp, the dialogue can be witty, but sticks true to the characters, and it really helps with the flow of the novel.  I personally enjoyed the banter between the characters and the conversations that were included; it made everything seem much more real. 

Behind everything, of course, is the character development.  You learn more about Daniel and Maura and their frustrating relationship, about Frost and his wife and the difficulties they are facing, and there are problems between Jane and Frost because of what is happening with Frost.  To say that one's private life never interferes with work would not be true to real life and I am glad that was included in the novel as it made the characters seem more real.  Given all that, I still found the character development somewhat thin.  I thought Maura took the role of a secondary character and I was somewhat disappointed by that and also, the difficulties in Frost's life were underplayed quite a bit.  I like these characters and would love to learn more about them, and not just the role they play in the suspense.

Tess Gerritsen has written another excellent novel, one that is at once very suspenseful with an array of twists and turns until you don't know what is happening, one that contains a great mystery, and one that contains a lot of adventure.  There is some intriguing archaeological elements to it where you learn a bit about how to embalm people and a few other things about how to preserve dead bodies (so for those who are a bit squeamish there are some elements in this novel that may not be for you).  I found the characters to be very engaging, and I liked how they interacted with each other.  Despite the lack of some character development, this is still an engaging read, and works well at a stand-alone book if you are not familiar with the series.  These are always a fun read with which to finish a day of work.


  1. I love this series and always look forward to the new books. I'm also curious and excited about the new TV series based on these characters on TNT, this summer I think. I hope it will do them justice and not be too cheesy!

  2. I am looking forward to the series as well as I am a big fan of Tess Gerritsen. This wasn't my favourite book, but it was certainly up there. I've been looking, but I haven't found too much info on the tv series yet. If you find anything, let me know.