From Publishers Weekly
At the start of this disappointing stand-alone thriller from bestseller Gerritsen (The Mephisto Club
), 38-year-old divorcée Julia Hamill discovers a skeleton buried in the garden of the Boston house she's just moved into; the ring found with the remains was in fashion in the 1830s, the fractured bones suggest murder. Flashback to 1830: medical student Norris Marshall, an outcast among his wealthier classmates, meets Rose Connolly in a Boston maternity ward, where Rose's sister recently died of childbirth fever. When several gutted bodies turn up in deserted alleyways, Rose and Norris are the only ones to catch a glimpse of the killer, dubbed the West End Reaper. Norris, Rose and Norris's fellow student, Oliver Wendell Holmes, race to uncover the truth behind the slayings, which will remind many of Jack the Ripper's crimes. In the present, Julia is able to trace their progress with the help of a relative of the house's former owner. Unfortunately, neither the present nor the historical story line maintains the suspense necessary for a whodunit spanning several generations. (Sept.)
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Medical examiner Maura Isles returns in another thriller that joins past and present. In the present, in the backyard of Julia Hamill's old Boston house, a long-buried body is unearthed. In 1830, long before the invention of the term serial killer, medical student Norris Marshall is accused of being a mass murderer. To dig himself out from under suspicion, Norris seeks help from a fellow student, one Oliver Wendell Holmes. Together they pursue the cold-hearted killer, while, in the present day, Julia Hamill tries to find out the identity of the body buried in her backyard. As her fans well know, this is not Gerritsen's first shot at combining the modern and the historical. Yet it reads as though it might be: it's clunky, with overly familiar plotting and an attempt at 1830s-era dialogue that's often painful to the ear. Incorporating real people into historical fiction is a well-worn device, and while the author succeeds in bringing Holmes vividly to life, she doesn't really do anything particularly special with hima fictional character would have served the story just as well. This is a passable thrillerGerritsen does generate a fair amount of suspensebut it fails to come together on any level beyond plot. Recommendable, finally, only because the author's many fans will want to read it. Pitt, David
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