Sunday, August 27, 2017
Book Review: 'I Know a Secret' by Tess Gerritsen
A psychopath is picking off targets one by one in Tess Gerritsen's stunning novel, "I Know a Secret." Twenty-six year old Cassandra Coyle was a filmmaker whose assailant murdered and mutilated her, but left no visible injuries. Detective Jane Rizzoli of the Boston PD and her partner, Barry Frost, are assigned to the case. Medical examiner Maura Iles conducts the autopsy, but cannot, at first, determine the cause of death. When another murder occurs with eerie similarities to the first one, Maura again conducts the postmortem. This time, she cleverly figures out how the perpetrator is dispatching his victims.
The author juggles a variety of plots and subplots adroitly, inserts passages of grim humor, horrifies us with backstories of disturbed people behaving brutally, and explores such controversial themes as the reliability of children's repressed memories. We revisit Jane's beleaguered mother, Angela, who rashly took her husband back after he cheated on her. In addition, Maura reconsiders her decision to cut off contact with the man she loves. As if this were not enough to hold our attention, we are confronted with a first-person narrator who is a cold-hearted sociopath, cunning liar, and unabashed narcissist.
"I Know a Secret" mesmerizes us from its absorbing opening chapter through its chilling finale. Gerritsen wastes no words, delineates key characters with deft strokes, enlivens each scene with vivid figurative language, and moves her well-crafted story along swiftly and satisfyingly. In addition, she does not pacify us with feel-good solutions. This tale of cruelty, heartache, and deceit demonstrates that, at its worst, life can be messy, painful, and grossly unjust. Jane and Maura are dedicated and tenacious professionals; they do everything possible to see that the bad guys are punished. If they fail, and they sometimes do, it is not for lack of trying. "I Know a Secret" is a must-read for thriller fans and one of the best works by Tess Gerritsen to date.
Editor's note: This review was written by Eleanor Bukowsky and has been reposted with permission. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.