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My partner, Matt, kindly ran me a relaxing bubble bath and a glass of chilled rose wine. I grabbed my new book and settled into my bath. This was around 7 pm in the evening. As I started to get into the plot of this thriller and as my bath water slowly started to get cold I kept topping up with hot water. I told myself I'll just read one more chapter then I'll get out of my bath. Matt interrupted me by topping up my wine glass but even then I didn't take my eyes of the page. I was hooked! Finished another chapter, again I told myself I'll just read one more, it won't hurt! Matt popped his head round the door to ask if I was ok and to tell me he was going to bed. At that point I was confused as to why he was off to bed so early so I asked him why? Matt said "early! Babe it's gone midnight!". I couldn't believe it! I'd been in the bath reading non stop for over 5 hours, I just couldn't put the book down, I needed to know what happened! I eventually got out of the bath but it is testament to the fantastic writing of this book just how good it is that I had the longest bath of my life!
I have read and reviewed my fair share of Gerritsen novels now and I still love the same characters and style of writing. If you're familiar with her stuff you may realise not too far in to the novel that this isn't her usual style per se, but it was a very easy and enjoyable read that I would recommend.
The Killing Place falls within the crime thriller genre, in which Gerritsen has earned herself a place near to top. I have come across a couple of her books that I haven't been as keen on, but this one has a slightly different edge to it whilst in keeping with Gerritsen's unique style. The tagline on the front cover reads: 'He waits. He watches. They disappear', along with 'The new Rizzoli and Isles Bestseller'.
The book opens by introducing us to Maura Isles, a woman who cuts up and investigates the dead, and who is a familiar name to those who have read Gerritsen's work before. She travels to Wyoming for a medical conference and comes across an old fellow lab student and his companions. He quickly convinces her to leave her current worries and relationship issues behind and do something spontaneous by going on an overnight ski trip with them.
Despite her reservations, Isles goes along with the trip and gets into the car with said fellow lab student, his daughter and his 2 other companions. But the season is very much winter and snow is already falling, providing them with a perilous journey in their car up to the ski resort. Before they know it, the snow hits them like a shovel to the face and the car gets stuck; no camping trip that night. The only thing they can see is a sign to 'Kingdom Come' when they find they're close by a small plot of houses. Upon reaching this little commune, however, they realise they're the only ones there, that all of the houses have been abandoned.
As the plot thickens we're taken on a tour of this deserted landscape, of the empty houses and possible explanations they draw up for the seemingly sudden abandonment of all of the houses. This place is out in the middle of nowhere, and a series of unfortunate events lead the group to break down and start having to fight for survival and a way out of there. The question then is: What happened in Kingdom Come? At the time this is happening, whilst Isles and co are stranded, questions are being asked back home as to why Isles hasn't returned. As a friend and expert Jane Rizzoli, along with her husband and law inforcement, are sifting through clues as to what's happening and where she could possibly be. Perhaps she took off by herself to escape from the dramas back home for a while? Or perhaps she got taken?
I won't say any more about the plot except that there are some twists and turns, some unusual and strange goings on, and the seeming involvement of some sort of cult. All of that makes for an interesting storyline directly involving Isles, who is usually the one outside of the danger zone looking in.
The characters were fairly well developed and it was enjoyable to read about each and how they interact. I did find it a bit abrupt when some of the characters were almost wiped out of the book, but that was probably just because the plot was picking up pace and taking some rather dramatic turns to keep the reader interested. Reading about Isles gave me something familiar to hold on to because I've come across her before, so that was a bonus of having read a Gerritsen book before. Having said that, you needn't have done to be able to understand this one and get absorbed by it because the author gives decent enough background to keep characters and scenes vivid and moderately complex without becoming confusing.
What I also really liked was the way that Gerritsen was able to paint the scenes and make the place of Kingdom Come atmospheric and three dimensional. I found myself being more easily able to visualise and imagine the characters, the snow, the cold and fear etc, and that to me is the sign of a good book.
Further praise can be found on the back cover, including : 'Gruesome, seductive and creepily credible' - The Times, 'Baby, you are going to be up all night' - Stephen King, and 'Crime-writing at its nerve-tingling best' - Harlan Coben. Both of these guys are top class writers who know a good thing when they see it, and I'd agree that this is a good read and one I would recommend if you want something to lose yourself in.
322 pages over 38 chapters (hardback)
The killing place by Tess Gerritsen
You're cold. You're scared. You're lost. You're just where the killer wants you.
When I first picked up this book I thought that it was going to be a bit of a horror. A group of friends are stranded in the frozen wintery conditions, their car is stuck in a snowy ditch miles from anywhere populated. As luck would have it they stumble upon a small deserted village with only a handful of basic houses, the snowbound village of Kingdom Come, Wyoming. As things get more and more desperate Maura Isles gets completely removed from her life as a pathologist and her survival is constantly in question. She is continual threatened by the weather, the severe conditions and the unwelcome visitors that for mysterious reasons don't want her to find her way home. Meanwhile her colleague and friend Detective Jane Rizzoli is desperately trying to find out what happened to Maura and why things aren't quite what they seem with some of the local people.
It is really hard to give a more detailed summary of this complex plot without giving any of the twists or turns of the novel away. Sufficed to say that I really haven't done the novel justice and it is a gripping, intriguing story that held my attention firmly from the first few pages right to the very end.
The novel progresses from a rather sinister beginning, the book after it got going definitely had the feel of a fast passed crime novel rather than a horror, with twists and turns in abundance. I love when a book keeps me on the edge of my seat guessing at what is coming up ahead next. I never even had a hint of an idea about the ending of this book, but it still left me feeling satisfied and a bit disappointed that it had all come to an end. I love when I can't guess the ending and I would be surprised if anyone had this story figured out before the author wanted you to.
I enjoyed this book right from the start. This was the first book in the series (of which it is book number eight) that I have read and although you can tell that it is part of an ongoing series. Personally I didn't have any problems keeping up with the characters and their backgrounds, as a standalone novel it worked well, but I do suspect that I would have gotten more from this novel if I had read all the previous ones. At times I did feel a little lost about certain romantic relationships that I assume where covered in greater detail in another book, but only just touched upon in this one. However, since reading this one I have also went out and bought some of the other earlier ones in the series that I can't wait to get started on.
I really enjoyed Tess Gerritsen's writing style, this wasn't a long book but it didn't feel overly short, especially considering how much was packed into it. I found the style of short snappy chapters really helped to keep the book soaring along and I always wanted to read just one more.
This particular book in the series focuses more on Maura Isles than it does Jane Rizzoli. I got to know Maura quite well, her relationships, her strength. However, I am looking forward to reading more books that concentrate on their relationship together as they seem like a great duo, opposites but with strong similarities in certain respects.
Although years of experience reading books has taught me never to judge a book by the cover alone, this is one cover that made a great first impression. It has a slightly creepy look to it which is perfect for the story lurking inside.
This gets a full five out of five stars from me. I would also highly recommend it.
Published by Bantam
Paperback edition available from Jan 2011 (£7.99)
Paperback edition - 443 pages
Book 1 - The surgeon
Book 2 - The apprentice
Book 3 - The sinner
Book 4 - Body Double
Book 5 - Vanish
Book 6 - The mephisto club
Book 7 - Keeping the dead
Book 8 - The killing place
Book 9 - (Not yet released) The silent girl
The Killing Place is Gerritsen's latest best seller featuring Maura Isles and Jane Rizzoli.
It starts in Idaho telling the story of a girl who is being stalked by an older girl and then a marriage is arranged. There is nothing to tell of the time of this chapter, so the reader is unsure whether it's the past or the present until the next chapter, which skips sixteen years to the future.
It skips to Maura Isles and Daniel Brophy. Fans of Gerritsen will know the history between these two, but those who are new to the series will have to guess at what happened. Because it is quite a few books into the series the relationship is not really explained, so readers will have to gauge the situation by the conversation between the two, which is slowly revealed over time.
It is because of this relationship that makes Maura take probably the worst decision of her life, and go on a trip with an old school friend. They drive along a deserted road, get caught in a snow storm and end up being stranded in a village called Kingdom Come. The only thing is, this village is abandoned, and has been abandoned in quite a hurry.
What I really liked about this part of the book was the description of the empty houses. There were glasses of milk and animals that had been left in the hurry to get away. Most of those animals are now dead. There are cars left in garages and meals on the table, waiting to be eaten. It is very eerie and really builds up the atmosphere of the village and the situation - not only are they stranded, they are in a strange village where they are not sure what has happened. All the small details seem to have been thought of, like why are the cars left in the garage and what is the mysterious blood left on the floor in one of the houses, and where is the body?
Gerritsen writes her books as a series of events that follow a chain, whereas other books go back and forth between characters and events. A few chapters in Rizzoli is brought it and that's where it gets a bit more complicated as she searches for Maura, The story is written with an omnipresent point of view, where the reader knows things that Rizzoli doesn't. Sometimes this spoils it slightly as you know what she is searching for is not true, or has not happened and made me skip through the story to find the next exciting part.
Gerritsen works as a physician and her medical knowledge comes through in all her books, this one especially. The characters have to do what they can to survive and that even includes an amputation of someone's leg. It must be quite different to do an amputation in an operating theatre than in a house with un sterilised and make shift equipment.
The pace of the book was fast and kept me reading throughout. Towards the end, you thought it was all wrapped up and finished and the mystery of the empty village was solved, but it had a real twist to it, which was good.
This book is published under the title of Ice Cold in America, but I am not sure either the English or the American title is very outstanding. The Killing Place - the place where people are killed? It's not very inspiring, and Ice Cold, because they were caught in a snow storm? I really like the name of the village though - Kingdom Come. Because it is quite a religious community, the title links back to the bible and I think perhaps that is a better title for the book? It is more mysterious and matches Gerritsen's writing style as being quite devious with twists and turns.
I am also not sure about the timing of the release of the book. It is about a winter storm yet is has been released in the middle of summer, when the last thing I wanted to think about was snow storms. I think this book would have been even more effective if it had been read in the winter by a roaring fire. But maybe it's been timed with the release of the book in paperback, when more copies are likely to be sold.
The Killing Place didn't disappoint though, as usual. It was full of suspense and was very fast paced and it certainly kept me guessing until the last page. It is highly recommended.
When medical examiner Maura Isles decides to throw caution to the wind and join an old-school friend Doug on a trip to a ski-lodge after attending a conference in Wyoming, the last thing she expects is to end up stuck in a blizzard. When Doug, Maura, and the rest of their party take shelter in an abandoned house, they're surprised to find that it looks as though it was only recently lived in. Each of the twelve houses in Kingdom Come are all similarly spooky and stand empty, and with no electricity or phone signals, Maura and co. find themselves stranded relying on someone noticing they're missing and coming to find them. When Detective Jane Rizzoli is notified of her friends absence, she flies out to Wyoming to try to find Maura. Will Jane be able to find her friend and just why were the houses in Kingdom Come left abandoned?
I have to admit, I first started reading a Tess Gerritsen book by accident. My mum had bought The Surgeon and because nothing else was capturing my attention I decided to give it a read because the blurb sounded interesting. Instantly, I was hooked, despite the fact I generally read chick lit and nothing but chick lit. I finished reading the book that same night and went out the next day to buy the rest of the books in the series (The Apprentice, The Sinner, Body Double, Vanish and The Mephisto Club) and I devoured them just as quickly. I then had to wait until 2009 for the latest Rizzoli/Isles book Keeping The Dead and I loved that, too. I couldn't believe just how fantastic crime/thriller books could be. So when I saw a new Isles/Rizzoli thriller coming in 2010, I pre-ordered it as soon as possible and I eagerly awaited its release.
Over the course of the Rizzoli/Isles series there has been many changes, I think, to the writing of the books. The first book, The Surgeon, is completely different to the other book mainly because Rizzoli was meant to die so it wasn't focused solely on her. Maura Isles wasn't present, either, until The Apprentice, and even then it was in a minor capacity. I think the series as a whole took off from The Sinner (book three), but you ought to start at the beginning because those first two books are stunning. The books swing from focusing solely on either Jane or Maura, to focusing on them both equally and in the last two books I think the focus has been equal but more at a distance than usual, giving the series a wider berth and allowing in a bit more scope for the plot. They've all been cracking books though; the only one I have doubt over is The Sinner because I didn't truly understand it, but bar that I've found them all convincing and full of twists and turns.
I do always worry that the next Rizzoli and Isles book will be the one that changes my mind about crime fiction and that I'll suddenly stop enjoying it, so while I was excited to start The Killing Place, I was also worried. However it took me only 5 pages to get sucked in and that was that, I couldn't put it down. The book is very quick off the mark, opening up with a Prologue which sets the scene for the book before diving right in to Maura at the airport, just before she flies out to Wyoming, where she has an argument with Daniel Brophy (her priest of a boyfriend), meaning that when Doug, an old college friend, invites her to a skiing lodge, Maura decides to be reckless for once and goes along with it. And that's where Maura, Doug, Grace (Doug's daughter), Aldo (a friend of Doug's) and Aldo's girlfriend find themselves, trapped in the spooky village called Kingdom Come, after a snowstorm leaves them stranded. After a terrible accident, the group find themselves in a race against time to get themselves rescued despite the fact no one knows they're there. Maura decides that someone is bound to come looking for her eventually, but with spooky things happening in Kingdom Come, it could be too late.
There's quite a lot that goes on in the first half of The Killing Place. There's the overall spookiness of Kingdom Come, which begs the question of where everyone from the little village went, and why they were in such a hurry to go, even leaving plates of food and pets behind. It's an incredibly complex plot, but it never gets confusing at all and not at any point does the pace of the book slow at all. In fact, it's fairly relentless as not only do Maura and co. have to find a way out of Kingdom Come, but they also try to figure out what is going on. Plus Jane Rizzoli is herself trying to find Maura so there's a lot flying up in the air and what makes it worse is that we the reader know what's going on with Maura whilst Jane tries her best to unravel it all and rescue Maura from wherever she is. It all adds up for a fascinating read. I did worry, from the Prologue, it may have been a more religious read but it wasn't at all and I was pleasantly surprised with how everything panned out. In fact, just when I thought everything had been tied up nicely, and was just settling down, there was one final twist which was unexpected to say the least.
The one thing that needs to be consistent though with a series, is that each of the recurring characters do have to stay pretty much the same throughout. Maura has to stay Maura, Jane has to stay Jane, etc because if either of them had any sort of big personality change, it wouldn't be right. So far all of the recurring characters, but most importantly Maura and Jane, have stayed fairly true to their characters throughout the series and that continues with The Killing Place. I must admit, I am now tiring of Maura's "relationship" with priest Daniel Brophy because there's only so far you can take a relationship when one of the people in it are dedicated to God, as Daniel clearly is. Thankfully scenes including both Maura and Daniel were minimal but it doesn't seem as if it could go on for much longer without becoming repetitive. It was nice to see Maura going out of her comfort zone, despite the fact it leads her to the middle of nowhere with no one around to help. One thing I do love, though, is the relationship between Jane and her husband Gabriel, they've been through loads together and I love seeing them together, they work well together and having a husband seems to have mellowed Jane a tad. She's not as rough around the edges as she was in The Surgeon. We're introduced to some new characters in The Killing Place, some good, some bad, and an old one returns in the shape of Anthony Sansome. Gerritsen has built a fantastic set of characters, that's for sure.
The Killing Place was a fantastic read, and I literally could not put it down. Like Stephen King says, it gripped me by the neck and refused to let go. It can, in case you're wondering, be read as a stand-alone book however you'll miss really getting to know the characters and you won't be aware of what they've been through previously, so I would strongly recommend you start at the beginning, it's not as if you're going to regret it. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I was so sad to see it end because it means I now have to wait at least another year for the next Rizzoli/Isles thriller and I just don't think I can wait that long. When you have writing as good as Gerritsen's to read, you want to read it all day long, so I think a re-read of the entire series could well be in order pretty soon.