Grim, gory, great

I have a couple of TV guilty pleasures - Masterchef Australia (I quite like the UK version too!), Grey's Anatomy (have been hooked since the first episode), and Rizzoli and Isles. I was very sorry to discover when trying to find links for this post, that the next series of Rizzoli and Isles is scheduled to be the last. It's strange but although I'm an avid crime reader, I'm not a big watcher of TV detectives any more, Rizzoli and Isles though has gripped me from the beginning. I think the main reason for this is that it's a bit of a return to childhood. It's rather less grim than some of the more realistic series that are around, and it's a female version of a buddy movie. In fact, it's a rather more serious version of  the Starsky and Hutch type cop shows, my childhood favourites.

The series revolves around Boston homicide cop, Jane Rizzoli, feisty, tomboyish and clever, and her best mate, Maura Isles, neat, well-organized, an IQ through the roof, and an ace medical examiner. Between them, a close knit bunch of detectives, and Jane's extended and slightly potty Italian-American family, they keep law and order in Boston. Some of the stories are a little daft, but generally they're decent police procedurals with a real human side to them.

It's only fairly recently that I realised that the series was based on a series of best sellers by former medic, Tess Gerritsen. And so I picked up the first in the series - The surgeon. Perhaps not unnaturally, having followed the series, I assumed that this novel was going to be centred around Maura Isles; but in fact it follows Jane Rizzoli, who, recently drafted in from Narcotics and Vice, is in charge of her first big homicide - a particularly gory death of a woman. The situation soon becomes more complex though when the police realise that this is not a standalone murder but the work of a serial killer, whose crime spree appears to have started in Atlanta. However the murderer was shot dead by one of his intended victims, so who is the copy-cat killer? And why has he followed the survivor to Boston?

The surgeon is a great police procedural. No cosy crime here, definitely a slice 'em and dice 'em style thriller; but it is heart-stoppingly exciting, gallops along at a great pace, and is unputdownable. It's grim and gory, but still manages to have a lot of the warmth (despite the subject matter) that makes the TV series so enjoyable. Although very different from the series, the difference doesn't bother me as it did with Bones. They are markedly different, but also all that is best in the books has been incorporated into the series making them firmly family.

Tess Gerritsen is a smashing crime-writer, and I look forward to reading many more books by her. Do read her blog, which is absolutely fascinating.


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