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on 10 November 2012
There is something about Tess Gerritsen's "Rizzoli & Isles" detective novel series that just grips you and doesn't let you go until you've devoured the entire novel. While some of her books have been better than others, all are riveting reads. Nothing changes in that respect with her latest, Last to Die. In fact, the twists and turns Gerritsen produces, the wonderful character work and exploration, and the suspense that keeps readers hanging all combine to form what is probably her best book since Vanish.

Three teenagers have more than their new hormones in common: they have all survived the massacre of their parents and guardians. Twice. When Boston detective Jane Rizzoli is called to the horrific scene where young Teddy Clock's foster family has been wiped out, she knows that something is horribly wrong. The feeling is heightened when medical examiner Maura Isles discovers that there are two more children with similar backgrounds at a remote school in Maine called Evensong, a school that takes in children of violence and helps them cope with it. Is there a connection between them? Is there a single killer out there targeting them? For what purpose? Shadows of the past reach forward, forcing Jane and Maura to figure out what's going on before more people die.

Gerritsen usually explores a central theme in her novels even as she keeps the suspense tight. Last to Die is about family, and it's interesting how she's able to explore this both through the terrible violence occurring around Rizzoli as well as the family drama that threatens to distract her at just the wrong moments. Her father, who walked out on her mother to live with a much younger woman, is back, and he wants his wife back--just when her mother has become engaged to Rizzoli's old partner, Korsak.

The relationship between Isles and the boy who saved her in Colorado two books ago also highlights the theme. He has been taken in by the staff at Evensong, making a life for him there. She is his mother-figure, though, and he is very happy to see her when she visits for two weeks. I love the developing relationship between them, both of them awkward as they are so used to being alone, this new parent-child relationship being almost forced upon them, and both having to get used to it.

Relationships are the core of the Rizzoli and Isles series, and Gerritsen's dialogue and plotting brings that out strongly. Isles and Julian, Rizzoli and her family, Rizzoli and Frost (her partner). Rizzoli's family is an ongoing subplot throughout the series, thus there is no conclusion to their story in this one. That may bother some people, but I like subplots that tie a series together, at least as long as some progress is made in them.

The actual murder plot in Last to Die is also brilliant. Gerritsen leads readers around, down dark alleys and dead ends with Rizzoli and Frost navigating. One can never tell what will be relevant to the resolution of the plot because Gerritsen keeps the reader guessing and doesn't skimp on the details, even when the road leads nowhere. It brings a sense of authenticity to a novel when you see detectives not take the correct fork in the road the first time.

As with most Gerritsen books, the last fifty pages of Last to Die will keep you glued to them while everything comes to fruition. Only a couple of characters who you know won't die (their names are on the series), but everybody else is fair game. Even during this climactic segment, Gerritsen throws readers a couple of curve balls.

The only complaint I may have about the book is the aftermath, where the ultimate resolution seems a bit far-fetched. It does, however, fit the book thematically and satisfies the reader, so it doesn't hurt the book as much as it might.

Last to Die is a thriller that you won't be able to put down.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book. © Dave Roy, 2012
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on 4 October 2012
One of the things I love about reading is variety, as they say it's the spice of life, so I like to mix up the type of books I read, so when I saw on NetGalley that they were looking for reviewers for Last to Die I applied and was accepted.

This is the latest offering in Tess Gerritsen's Rizzoli and Isles series which sees them investigating a family homicide where one child, Teddy, has survived the horrific crime which has wiped out his foster family. But for Teddy this is not the first tragedy that he has survived in his young life as he was also the sole survivor of a previous incident inwhich his biological family all died.

When Maura goes to visit Julian 'Rat' Perkins, a boy she'd met on a previous case, at his boarding school Evensong she meets fellow students Claire and Will and alarm bells start to ring when she discovers that, like Teddy, they have also both survived two tragedies that have claimed the lives of their biological and foster families.

She contacts Jane Rizzoli and between them they start to investigate if there is any connection between Teddy, Claire and Will's families and when sinister things start to happen it's apparent that they are on the right track. Can they find the killer before it's too late?

This is actually the first Tess Gerritsen book I've read, even though it's number 10 in her Rizzoli and Isles series, so I've actually got a lot of catching up to do! It might have helped me to understand the back stories a little between Maura, Anthony Sansone and Julian, if I'd read Mephisto Club and The Killing Place first but I was able to follow the story without having done so.

If you've read her previous books then I'm sure that you'll enjoy reading this one too.
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Last to Die is the tenth novel in the Rizzoli and Isles series by Tess Gerritsen. Jane Rizzoli is called in when the only witness to his foster-family's massacre is frightened young teenager, Teddy Clock, who is saying nothing. Events soon lead to Jane spiriting him away to Evensong, a secluded boarding school for emotionally traumatised children, the place where Maura Isles's young friend Rat, aka Julian Perkins is also living, and where Maura is currently on vacation, spending time with Julian. Soon, however, remarkable similarities between Teddy and two other students at Evensong arouse Maura's suspicions that the school founders have their own agenda, and send Jane searching for links between the families. As usual, Jane is hampered by male disdain from some of her colleagues, but receives surprising support from a superior. Gerritsen's plot is, as always, original, with plenty of twists, intrigue and the odd red herring, but she cuts the built-up tension with the Rizzoli family's hilarious ongoing dramas. The narrative is fast-paced, and the characters hold a few surprises. Gerritsen manages to include a sniffer dog, hallucinogenic drugs, archery, an exploding plane, yacht and house, an amateur CSI team and quite a lot of murder. The interspersed snippets of Icarus narrative will keep the reader guessing to the end. Another excellent Rizzoli and Isles installment.
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on 15 September 2013
When I pick up a new Tess Gerritsen crime thriller, I know that it's going to be a very quick read and Last to Die is no exception. Those pages were flipping over at speed!

The setting of this book takes a detour from the 'usual' backdrop (if there is one) in that it takes place in a school, which, although at times, borders on YA fiction, when necessary, adeptly jerks the reader back into that sinister adult world that Gerritsen does so well.

Remote and secure, Evensong School is the perfect stronghold for vulnerable teens who have been traumatised by the murder of family members and, in particular, provides a place of safety for three children who, it seems, are targets of a murderer. Finding a connection between them, thus a reason for why their lives are at risk, is the premise of the story.

This wasn't quite as perfect as some of Gerritsen's other works... that's not to say it wasn't enjoyable; it was! Very. The ending didn't quite work for me, however. At the climax, the perpetrator had ample opportunity to kill Rizzoli and Frost, yet allowed them to accompany 'them' to the place where the final act was to be executed. Also, one character was said to be medically unable to lie, yet on several occasions did just that.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 15 January 2014
I am a huge fan of Tess Gerritsen and was bitterly disappointed. The story started well and then about halfway through all the characters kind of lost the plot. The ending was entirely unbelievable, there wasn't really a lot of suspense there and I missed the excellent work of Maura. I sincerely hope that Tess Gerritsen isn't going the same way as so many crime writers before her where it's more about quantity of books rather than quality.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 6 October 2012
Yet another winner from Tess Gerritsen. A really brilliant read that led the reader on its journey which when finished left us wanting more. The story concerned the memphis club again and it took us along the twists and turns wondering where we were going next. I really recommend this book which is well worth the time and you will not want to put it down.
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on 8 August 2013
I'm not overly keen on the television version of this, but it has really helped me visualise the characters in this series, a long-term favourite of mine. This was a great story too - really unusual premise - basically there are three children whose parents were killed and then a couple of years later, their foster carers are killed as well, leaving these three children at Evensong, a high-protection and strangely curriculumed school in the middle of nowhere. Enter Maura Isles who's visiting her new friend Julian and of course she brings along Jane Rizzoli, with some sort of tenuous jurisdiction and they're off and running with a twisty and turny investigative romp.

This felt like a good old-fashioned mystery-thriller and really kept me turning the pages. There was a little love distraction but it really was a minor detour and so didn't detract from the story. I do like the female characters in this, but I do get a bit bored of Maura's 'I'm in love with a vicar' whinges - could do without that.
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VINE VOICEon 6 March 2013
I enjoyed this book - having read many of the Rizzoli & Isles series, some of the later books seem to have been a bit tame however this one was back to form with a much stronger storyline. It was at times a little far-fetched, but nevertheless it contained the suspense and twists we expect from Tess Gerritsen. There are enough turns and red herrings to keep the reader turning the pages. The remoteness of the school, Evensong, was particularly well described and there was a real sense of atmosphere. I love the relationship between Jane and Maura - it's still a little strained from when Maura testified against the police in a previous case but their friendship runs deep and they know that they can always rely on each other for help.

There are characters in this who have appeared in previous books and it would of benefit to read them in order however this could be read as a standalone.

Another winner from Tess Gerritsen, looking forward to the next one.
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on 26 August 2013
I have to admit I'm not familiar with this series, so may have been struggling to follow the characters' backstories. This was no bar to enjoyment of what was a pretty twisting plot: all options seemed to remain open until close to the end and it is difficult to write a review without plot spoilers; the school for child survivors is a brilliant idea, and one that I hope Gerritsen returns to; it has just enough hint of a survivalist outpost to make for an interesting debate within the novel on the subject of innate evil but that is absolutely secondary to the thriller element where one is never sure that things will all turn out ok in the end.
Children at risk, difficult teenagers and a shadowy state security operation gone wrong plus Rizzoli mending her fractured relationship with Maura Isles all make for a page turning thriller, pretty good escapism
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"All their thoughts are against me for evil." -- Psalm 56:5 (NKJV)

Everyone cares about orphans. If orphans are being treated badly, the sympathy is huge. Consider the Broadway show, Annie!

Tess Gerritsen takes that well-known penchant for a ride in creating a roller coaster of a plot in which youngsters are placed at more risk than anyone can imagine ... including the youngsters themselves. The story unravels a complex set of circumstances in an intriguing way that holds back some essential perspectives long enough to make the twists and turns more than usually surprising and entertaining.

Those who like this series for the interactions of Rizzoli and Isles won't be pleased, however. What goes on could have been conducted by any other pair of fictional characters. It's just that plot-driven. Sorry folks!
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