When thriller writer Richard persuades his girlfriend Millie to join him on safari in Botswana, she has no idea what lies ahead. At first, Millie copes with the lack of comfort and Richard’s flirtations, soothed by the campfire cocktails and the handsome guide. But it’s not long before the first member of the group dies, torn apart by the animals they’ve come to see. From then on it becomes a matter of survival, especially so when they realise that they have much, much more than wild animals to fear. This is a hunt.
Six years later, Boston detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles are faced with an unusual case. A highly sought after taxidermist is found hanging by his ankles in his garage, gutted. The clues suggest that this may not be the murderer’s first killing. The murderer has left a trail of death, stretching back over the years. As the two stories come together, Botswana and Boston, it becomes more and more imperative to catch a killer who has no choice but to finish what he or she started, six years ago, in the African bush.
Die Again is the eleventh Rizzoli and Isles novel by Tess Gerritsen. For me, though, it was my first. I don’t read much contemporary crime fiction. It gives me bad dreams. But since reading I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh last month, I have been inspired to dip into a genre that I have avoided for about ten years. I was initially drawn to Die Again by its African theme and this certainly didn’t disappoint (I’ve spent time on safari but thank heavens I hadn’t read this first!). But there is much more to this book that made me not want to put it down.
The characters of Jane and Maura are fabulous. It didn’t matter that I hadn’t read any of the other books although I can see that if I had I would have enjoyed spotting the clues to their earlier lives. There are lots of little mentions of events outside this particular novel. This didn’t distract, though, it made me want to know Jane and Maura even more. They are such likeable people. Watching Maura trying to care for a newly acquired reluctant pet cat made me smile. It all contributes to the warmth of these two women and adds depth to their relationship. It also means that Die Again is not a dark novel, despite its crimes.
The story itself is fantastic. I was glued to it. This is a highly addictive novel. I’m usually good at guessing who’s done what in a mystery but I was completely flummoxed by this one. I made lots of guesses, confident I’d worked it out, but I was foiled more than once. Millie is such an attractive character and her voice adds enormously to the novel, its narrative divided between Millie’s first person account and the third person telling of the Rizzoli and Isles case.
Tess Gerritsen is clearly a master of her craft and I can understand why she has so many fans. She writes so well, her storytelling thriller-plotting talent backed up by her medical knowledge. Immediately after reading Die Again (an experience which involved staying up until well after 2am as I was unable to put it down), I bought two more in the series. I am hooked.