Diehard fans of Tess Gerritsen, acknowledged in the publishing world as the reigning queen of the medical thriller genre, will certainly enjoy "The Sinner", her seventh novel and the third in her very successful Jane Rizzoli series. In this outing, a puzzled, frustrated, slightly shop worn and very pregnant Jane Rizzoli shares center stage with her colleague Maura Isles, the crusty medical examiner for the Boston Police Department everyone calls "The Queen of the Dead". The brutal beating of two nuns within the confines of their quiet cloistered convent leads to an exquisitely detailed and informative low key examination of the forensic details of the case and the dogged police investigation which slowly but steadily leads through a thicket of difficult clues to the ultimate solution.
I have to hand it to her! Gerritsen makes a valiant effort to spice up the story with some interesting side plots - Rizzoli's pregnancy by her lover, FBI agent Gabriel Dean; the return of Maura Isles' ex-husband who seems to have ulterior motives connected to the case; the discovery that one of the murdered nuns had recently given birth and discarded the baby in a pond near the convent! But despite her best efforts, "The Sinner" comes off as very weak gruel compared with the fiery cuisine offered up in the previous two Rizzoli novels, "The Surgeon" and "The Apprentice". Somehow the story just never leaped off the page and approached the compelling page-turning urgency of her previous efforts.
That's not to say that it was unenjoyable. It's just that Gerritsen had set her own bar so very high and "The Sinner" was lack-lustre by comparison to that exacting standard. But, as I said earlier, fans will enjoy it and I wouldn't want to have passed this one by in terms of the long term development of her characters. I'm still a fan and I'll look forward to her next novel.
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