by Tess Gerritsen
Series: Rizzoli & Isles #10
Genres: Crime Fiction, Mystery, Suspense Thriller
Purchase*: Amazon | Audible *affiliate
“Suspense doesn’t get smarter than this. Not just recommended but mandatory.”—Lee Child For the second time in his short life, Teddy Clock has survived a massacre. Two years ago, he barely escaped when his entire family was slaughtered. Now, at fourteen, in a hideous echo of the past, Teddy is the lone survivor of his foster family’s mass murder. Orphaned once more, the traumatized teenager has nowhere to turn—until the Boston PD puts detective Jane Rizzoli on the case. Determined to protect this young man, Jane discovers that what seemed like a coincidence is instead just one horrifying part of a relentless killer’s merciless mission. Jane spirits Teddy to the exclusive Evensong boarding school, a sanctuary where young victims of violent crime learn the secrets and skills of survival in a dangerous world. But even behind locked gates, and surrounded by acres of sheltering Maine wilderness, Jane fears that Evensong’s mysterious benefactors aren’t the only ones watching. When strange blood-splattered dolls are found dangling from a tree, Jane knows that her instincts are dead on. And when she meets Will Yablonski and Claire Ward, students whose tragic pasts bear a shocking resemblance to Teddy’s, it becomes chillingly clear that a circling predator has more than one victim in mind.
Joining forces with her trusted partner, medical examiner Maura Isles, Jane is determined to keep these orphans safe from harm. But an unspeakable secret dooms the children’s fate—unless Jane and Maura can finally put an end to an obsessed killer’s twisted quest.
Last to Die was pre-ordered for my Nook months ago. I adore this series and was a fan long before TNT made the hit tv series Rizzoli & Isles. While I enjoy the show and being able to share Jane and Maura with my hubby, it cannot hold a candle to the awesomeness that the novels deliver. Each of them can easily be read as a standalone. I read this over two evening and found it to be captivating and suspenseful.
Rizzoli and Isles are called to the scene of a horrific home invasion. A young boy named Teddy Clock is the sole survivor when his foster family is brutally murdered. Two years ago his real family was slaughtered and he barely escaped. Rizzoli is asked to interview this traumatized young man and she cannot help but try and protect him. Maura Isles is looking forward to visiting Rat at Evensong; the exclusive boarding school he attends. Once there she makes some startling discoveries. All of the children are survivors/victims of violent crimes and two of these children have stories that are strikingly similar to Clock’s case. Can there be a connection and does someone want these children dead? The tale that unfolds is full of spies, conspiracies and a psychopath that will stop at nothing to complete his mission.
The characters in this series are unique, well fleshed out and quirky. Jane Rizzoli is a by the book and driven homicide detective who takes heat because she is a woman. Her partner Frost is loyal and has her back, even if it means sneaking around their commander. Cases get under Jane’s skin and her intuition is usually correct. When her commanding officer considers this a slam dunk case against a perp with priors, Jane wants to pursue a link between the children. I love Jane’s attitude and fearlessness. Maura Isles the chief medical examiner is struggling with personal issues, and unsure if she fits in with the Boston crowd. Her friendship with Jane has been strained since she testified against a fellow police officer. The children and staff at Evensong were interesting and well developed for secondary characters. The witnesses and suspects surrounding the violent crimes that took the children’s families were fascinating. An interesting friend of Maura’s reappeared and I so want to know his story. He is surrounded in mystery and he intrigues me. We learned more about him, but like Maura, I was frustrated and want to know more. Throughout the novel, chapters are told from the murderer’s POV.
The world-building was fascinating and I enjoyed watching Rizzoli and Isles piece together the clues. Creepy happening, deaths and dead animals around the school made the tale suspenseful. I found the Evensong Academy interesting and it’s tied to a previously mentioned club creepy. The Jackals forensic club and the school’s curriculum adding to the chill factor. While I generally like getting inside the mind of the killer, something Gerristen does so well..this time I felt it gave too many clues away. There were still plenty of twists and turns that kept me completely immersed and overall I was satisfied. Gerristen has a medical degree and worked until she went on maternity leave. She then began writing and her background shows.Her attention to forensic detail is chilling. Her researched in police procedures makes her stories feel authentic. Her writing style and arc development is beautiful. From the first page to the last I was enthralled. She had my heart racing as Rizzoli and Isles worked to solve this case. I love the secondary plots threaded throughout the series, and each novel shows more development.
I recommend Last to Die and any of Tess Gerritsen’s novels to fans of mysteries, crime thrillers, and physiological thrillers. She captivates me every time and I am always left in awe. When someone asks me to recommend a mystery writer, Tess is at the top of my list. I am anxiously awaiting news of her next novel.