Saturday, January 2, 2016

Book Review: Tess Garritsen's Playing with Fire

Sharon Long is here to tell us about Tess Gerritsen’s new standalone book, Playing with Fire.

I am sure many are familiar with the Rizzoli and Isles series of books by Tess Gerritsen which has also been made into a hit TV show on TNT. However, some readers may not know Tess has written five standalone books and this is her sixth. Since I enjoyed all of her other standalone novels, I was excited to dive into this one. This book exceeded my expectations.  

The protagonist is Julia, an accomplished violinist, who is ending her latest trip in Rome. She goes into an antique shop and finds an extremely old book of music and must have it. After returning home to her husband Rob and their 3-year-old daughter, Lilly, Julia pulls out the book. Inside she discovers a handwritten loose sheet of music. Julia starts to play the piece which starts out as a slow waltz but builds in tempo becoming faster and faster. She begins to sweat struggling to keep up and her hand cramps as the music ends in a frenzy. When Julia finishes the haunting piece, she is horrified by the violent effect the music has on Lilly. 

A few days later, she plays the piece and again Lilly has a terrifying reaction. As a mother, she is anxious to figure out the origins of this strange piece of music. She goes to Venice determined to find out. While there, Julia finds more than she bargained for. This story moves from present day to Venice during the Second World War. 

I was instantly drawn into Julia’s search for the origins of this eerie score of music. If I was reading about Julia in the present, I found myself longing to get back to Venice in the 1930’s and vice versa. The reader can feel Julia’s inner turmoil as she thinks she could be losing her sanity. The writing is poignant, realistic and moving. I thoroughly enjoyed the historical Venice and how the past and present intersect. Playing with Fire is fast moving and builds to a surprising crescendo similar to the waltz the story is based on. As many might already know, Tess is a physician as well as a musician. Both her love of music and Venice was her inspiration. 

To hear the haunting music which inspired this novel go to

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