I’m not getting much done lately – including blog posts – because I have had my nose deep in a book (or five), particularly thrillers. This week I have two heart-pounding novels for you!
First up is a thriller by a true favorite of mine, Tess Gerritsen. I’m a huge fan of her medical and crime thrillers, and in particular her Rizzoli and Isles series.
If you’re looking for something along the plotlines of these novels: this isn’t it.
What it IS: Tess Gerritsen switches things up as she adds a generous helping of historical fiction in her mystery. With Playing With Fire, Gerritsen has crafted a wonderful historical novel of a composer in WWII Italy entwined with a mystery in present day. The story starts with a bit of a paranormal feel to it, and she kept me guessing and on the edge of my seat most of the novel.
Julia Ansdell is an accomplished violinist. On a trip to Rome she ventures into a dark, dusty antique shop and purchases a piece of music, an unknown waltz. When she returns home she finds that this haunting and difficult piece, when played, seemingly has a dark and terrible effect on her daughter.
What happens at home drives her to learn more about the composer and sends her to Venice where she discovers a decades-old mystery involving a powerful family. As she researches the waltz, the story of the young Jewish composer Lorenzo and his family of musicians begins to unfold on the eve of the Holocaust. As the story switches between Julie in present day and the composer in 1930’s Venice, their tales soon become interwoven.
While Julie’s story is what sets an almost manic tone fraught with tension, it was Lorenzo’s story, and that of the Jews in Italy at the time of the Holocaust that truly touched me. I admit that there was a lot going on in this novel, and the resolution felt a bit abrupt and neatly tied up, but I’m willing to overlook it because the novel was so darn good. Fans of Sarah McCoy will love the historical angle while there is plenty of intrigue for the mystery crowd – this is right up your alley if you are a fan of Lisa Scottolini, David Baldacci or Iris Johansen.
Playing with Fire was published by Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine on October 27 and can be found in bookstores and on Amazon.com here. You can find Tess Gerristen on her website (www.tessgerritsen.com), on Twitter at @TessGerritsen and on Facebook.
But wait, there’s more!
The other book I want to introduce you to is Mrs. John Doe by Tom Savage. Fans of David Baldacci, Jeffrey Deaver and Dan Brown will appreciate this thriller which will keep you on your toes!
Nora Baron is a theater professor and a former actress, a loving wife and mother. What she is not is a spy. However, after receiving a call that her husband has died in a car accident outside London, she is pushed to her limits as she soon discovers that all is not as it appears, no one is who they appear to be, friend or foe – oh, and someone is out to kill her. And she isn’t entirely certain who, or why.
This story has a little bit of everything – terrorist plots, spies, a bit of violence and a lot of energy. Nora is one tough cookie and her acting skills come into good use as she becomes a bit of a spy herself, and her internal fortitude made me hold my breath a time or two. Tom Savage keeps us guessing as we (along with Nora) tries to figure out who is the good guy and who is not. This was a heart-pounding story right to the final pages – one I’ll be re-reading because I simply devoured it the first time through. Fans of the fast-paced thriller – this one is for you.
Mrs. John Doe was published on October 6, 2015 by Penguin Random House/Alibi and is available on Amazon.com and other booksellers. Tom Savage has penned eight novels and can be found at his website (in which he shares his rather interesting history and insights, and links to the current book tour for Mrs. John Doe) and on Facebook.
Many thanks to NetGalley, Random House Publishing Group/Ballantine and Penguin Random House/Alibi who have provided me with an advanced reader copy in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts, opinions and typos are truly my own.