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on 9 July 2007
This is my third Tess Gerritsen novel after reading The Surgeon and The Apprentice. While The Surgeon had me hooked from the get-go I was a little disappointed with the last two books.

This story starts with the discovery of a dead nun in a convent in Boston. Found beside her is another nun.....badly injured but still alive. Meanwhile, further across town the corpse of another victim is found in an abandoned building. Dr Maura Isles is the Medical Examiner on both cases and while she tries to figure out the why's surrounding each case she also finds herself having to handle the reemergence of somebody from her past.

Detectives Jane Rizzoli and Barry Frost are the investigating officers on both cases, bringing back the characters from The Surgeon and The Apprentice.

What I liked about The Surgeon was the page-turning drama involved in the search for a serial killer and the fact that the story wasn't focused on just one character. Ms Gerritsen has changed tact for The Sinner and I don't think it worked. The Sinner was disappointing because it didn't have that drama and instead the story seemed to focus more on the love-lives of Dr. Isles and Det. Rizzoli with the cases going on around them acting as mere background.

As for the was obvious who the baddie was in the last few chapters but there was no build-up and we still know virtually nothing about our baddie and that in itself was disappointing.

I know this review seems negative and that's not my intention. The Sinner is still a very good book but it lacked the punch I expected after reading The Surgeon. I've now started reading Body Double so we'll see how that turns out before I abandon all hope!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 12 September 2006
Anyone who has read THE SURGEON or THE APPRENTICE will know why my expectations were sky-high for this, the third in the Jane Rizzoli series. Those two novels were excellent, full of tension, suspense and pace. But here, Tess has gone way off the boil and has somehow turned what should have been a crime thriller into something of a romantic piece of ho-hum that borders on chick-lit. Borders, I stress, without quite entering. Tess claims that The Sinner was a fresh new challenge for her - and I quote from the great lady herself :-

"I actually found THE SINNER one of my most challenging and satisfying books to write, because it was not a simple serial killer book, and I couldn't rely on that automatic internal drumbeat of tension that a stalking/serial killer novel has. Serial killers are actually easy villains to create and I always feel like I'm taking the easy way out when I do one of those. But taking an overseas corporate horror and turning it into a homicide case in Boston was a lot harder"

Well, if it was a lot harder, it shows. The corporate horror she refers to is, I suppose, at the core of the plot here but it really hardly ever shows its face. I am actually intrigued by corporate crime, fraud or corruption so if anything I would have welcomed it with open arms had I known this in advance. But while there are some gruesome murders early on, followed by the always excellent forensic and medical analysis, in truth the meat and bones of this story is represented by the continuing dilemmas in the private life of Detective Rizzoli, alongside those of her associate in the morgue Dr Maura Isles. In Rizzoli's case her focus of attention is enigmatic FBI agent Gabriele Dean (carried over from The Apprentice) but, very disappointingly, Dean has only a bit part to play in this third novel. Meanwhile Dr Isles, who seems to have replaced Dr Ashford Tierney as Medical Examiner (without any explanation that I remember) tussles with the advances of her ex-husband Victor, a man who I kind of assumed to be about 60 years old judging by his name and could never quite remove that image from my vision. He's about 40 as it turns out.

The turmoils in these two women's love lives take centre stage ahead of the plot and storyline, that of the murder and serious assault of two nuns in a Boston convent. The investigation into these crimes, along with one or two other connected killings, never advances beyond background interest, and despite a reasonable allocation of pages to the crimes I have to say that no thrills are generated in doing so. One of the victims, a young nun, seems to have little involvement in the corporate corruption that is claimed to be this novel's mainstay, yet considerable time is spent investigating this story strand which, while interesting on its own, bears little relevance to the main point and direction of the tale itself. If anything, it only serves to contribute towards the unlikely discovery of maternal instincts suppressed within the very single and workaholic Rizzoli. I found Rizzoli to be a superbly drawn character in The Apprentice and could hardly wait for more of the same in The Sinner, but if anything it was an anti-climax due in part to the emergence of the somewhat less interesting `joint central character' of Dr Maura Isles. By having two female leads, as opposed to male/female in The Apprentice (Rizzoli & Dean) Tess has created something of an imbalance with few, if any, strong male characters at all. Gabriele Dean could have filled that role but once again, he hardly features at all even if what he actually does is highly influential.

We also lost the concept of a powerful, evil enemy in any character sense, unlike the `Surgeon' and the `Dominator' (the pseudonym used in The Apprentice). Tess says this was a very deliberate ploy but fans of the two earlier books - of whom there are many thousands if not millions - will be disappointed by the complete change of flavour and style of The Sinner. It was an attractive-sounding title that failed to deliver the expected goods, but I am optimistic that normal service will be resumed in BODY DOUBLE, VANISH and THE MEPHISTO CLUB.
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on 7 January 2008
In a remote leper village in India Howard Redfield photographs the dead. He's afraid, and well he should be because what he photographs here will ultimately lead to his murder in Boston a year later. There are secrets that some will kill to protect.

It's snowing, Christmas is close, when Boston M.E. Maura Isles gets the call to go out and investigate the murder in a contemplative order of nuns. She finds Detective Jane Rizzoli at the scene, learns that novice Sister Camille has been brutally murdered and that aging Sister Ursala has been horribly beaten. As it turns out the killer was after Sister Ursala and had thought he'd finished her, but how could he know that the nun had a congenital birth defect, one of her carotid arteries didn't pump blood, so when he checked for a pulse, he found none.

A woman is found dead in a seedier part of town. Her face has been ripped away, her hands and feet had been severed. Maura deduces Hanson's disease, leprosy. The killer hadn't been taking trophies, after all. He'd been trying to hid the illness. From the disease they guess the victim might have been from India. Sister Ursala had worked for a couple years with a group of lepers in India. Was there a connection?

Then Howard Redfield turns up dead.

This book, one of Tess Gerritsen's best, is a thriller of the first order, a mystery full of red herrings that will keep you guessing as you burn through the pages, and there is even that special touch of romance for Rizzoli that will touch your heart, even if you're a guy.

Review submitted by Captain Katie Osborne
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on 18 June 2012
In the genre of `Forensic Thrillers' the two strong female characters of Dr. Maura Isles and Detective Jane Rizzoli are among my favourite crime-crackers. Gerritsen plots with her usual deftness, the crimes are vile and the forensics gory. Rizzoli and Isles are very human and their focus on this case is hampered by the trials and tribulations of their own lives, hassles with their families, work clashes, etc., and for that, is all the more believable. Clues, obvious and less obvious are scattered carefully, along with a stack of whiffy red herrings, decaying nicely in order to take you off trail. You will award yourself points when you guess right on some of the twists and kick yourself when you don't. The evil corporate / crime back story was just a little unconvincing so I'll mark this as not quite up to Tess Gerritsen's superb best but it's still a good read for her fans. Four stars.
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VINE VOICEon 11 April 2011
The third book in the Rizzoli and Isles series, and to be honest one that I thought I wouldn't enjoy as much as the first two. I'm not particularly keen on books that deal with religion in either a conspiracy way or cults and sects (they make me feel uncomfortable) and the title of The Sinner made me think I may be in store for something Dan Brownish which made me shiver somewhat. Not so. I am just as happy to report this is just as fantastic as the first two and not a conspiracy theory in sight. Phew.

This is a book that gets the old grey matter working overtime, as there are several seemingly unrelated murders to solve. The main crime, and one that has shocked the city of Boston, is the apparant murder of two nuns (one old and one young) in a chapel. Both have been been found lying in pools of blood having been smashed over the head. What the killer hadn't bargained on, though, is that the elder of the two nuns is still alive...

Detective Jane Rizzoli and Pathologist Maura Isles once againn work together to chase down "perps" and put body parts under the microscope with the joint mission of bringing the killer to justice. This is a great book for the character development of both women too, as their working relationship starts to develop into the friend territory.

Once again - a brilliantly compulsive read. Gerritsen is able to weave together several seamingly unrelated events (the murder of nuns in a chapel, the dead body of a woman without hands and feet and a faceless woman who appears in a burnt-down village in India) and make them all come together in the end. On to the next......
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on 30 January 2009
`The Sinner' is the third in the Jane Rizzoli series, and the second with Maura Isles as the medical examiner. Would this be as good as the first two? Would I be hooked and unable to put the book down?

The answer to the above is pretty much. In some ways this is better than the previous two in others its not, overall it's very, very good. Isles and Rizzoli are called to a cloistered convent where one nun has been murdered and another has been left fatally injured. There are no motives and no clues as to why a pair of nuns would be attacked in such a way it's for Rizzoli and Isles to work out together. Then when another faceless, handless and footless body turns up secrets are revealed and our two leading ladies have to work out the link between her (the Rat Lady) and the two nuns, with many a twist along the way.

I actually like these two leading women. Rizzoli has grown in every novel so far, and though she has quite a secret in store she sadly doesn't seem to be in the novel so much as before which makes you feel slightly like your not part of the investigation from a coppers side. You are much more involved in the process of autopsy's as Isles has now gone from being a supporting role to very much a main character role which is great as she is another strong woman with flaws (named Queen of the Dead) in a different way from Rizzoli, also without her the story wouldn't make sense. Two things I wasn't sure about with her was that a) she drank sherry when she got home from a long day (sometimes one thing can just make you think `she wouldn't do that though') b) someone turns up in her life which creates a great back story for her but also is very clichéd in a `oh now I think I know what's coming' way both disappointed me slightly.

Other than that this is a great crime novel/murder mystery with gore galore. Gerritsen knows her terminology (and I figure once I have caught up with the series so will I) of medicine, autopsy's and operations. There is a lot less murder and a lot more mystery in this novel which is both good and bad. If you are expecting a book that fits the last twos plot lines and formula, you won't get quite what you are expecting. But then that's also a good thing right? I picked up the next one this afternoon, but I am being very good and having a Gerritsen break for a while... well as long as I can manage.
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VINE VOICEon 25 March 2005
Tess Gerritsen was a doctor and it shows in her writing.
The scenes in hospitals, morgues and the the descriptions of medical 'stuff' ooze authenticity, but, I feel, with this book she has 'cracked it' as a detective novelist. I don't suppose she will be too worried about this validation from me, sitting as she will be on the millions of dollars made from the earlier books in the series, but here, with Detective Jane Rizzoli and Dr Maura Isles, she has created characters that you really care about, which is the trick in making people buy not just one of your books, but all of them.
Let's be honest, this book is pants. The crime is ludicrous, the exposition silly, the coincidences amatuerish and the killer was a total 'well, who the Hell is he?' followed by frantic thumbing back. It doesn't matter.
I wanted to know how things were going to turn out for Jane and Maura. I like them (particularly Maura - foxy lady). They are real people. All that tosh about shooting people pales next to the thrill of their personal lives.
I don't feel this gooey about all detective fiction and that these characters do that to me means Ms Gerritsen has done it. Books that can be enjoyed whatever the shortcomings of the plot because the characters are involving. The Holy Grail. Nice one.
No five stars though. Write a decent plot and I'll relent
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VINE VOICEon 18 March 2006
what i like about Ms Gerritsen's series is that she has developed great characters by not being afraid to write a lot about their personal lives... and she still finds time to fit in a game of good guy - bad guy..
The third Isles/Rizzoli begins with an investigation into the murder of a nun and the assault of another. Who would want to harm nuns?
The case becomes even more eyebrow raising when it turns out one of them recently gave birth....Where is the child? Who was the father?
These questions must be answered but its never straight forward...and so begins a case which crosses borders and shakes bonds...
At the same time both women are facing troubles in their personal lives. Det Rizzoli finds out she is pregnant and on the road to being a single mum while Dr Isles has to face the return of her ex-husband into her life.
If you're already into this series then buy this book you will not be dissapointed. If you aren't then i suggest you begin at the beginning with 'the surgeon'...onto 'the apprentice' and then come back to this one...
Happy reading..
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on 20 August 2012
Checked out the reviews for this book before down-loading it. I nearly didnt get it as some of the reviews were so negative! However, i wanted to follow the series through in order, so i got it & iv just finished reading it; i have to say it is just brilliant! I couldnt put it down, every available minute reading another couple of pages! I loved the mix of the personal lives in with the plot, it was as interesting in the 1st half as the 2nd half, i could not believe it when i saw i had reached 80% it had just wizzed past! i thoroughly enjoyed it and would definately recommend anyone to ignore the negative reviews on this book and give it a read!
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on 14 April 2010
On a general note, I would recommend Tess Gerritsen to anyone who enjoys a thriller and to those who have yet to discover the genre. I enjoy thrillers/crime/cop novels and find Tess' books to be up there with the best. I have lent her to my sister who would not naturally choose this type of book and I cannot now read fast enough to keep pace with her demand for more! I think Tess Gerritsen's Rizzoli / Iles series offers that extra appeal to the female reader with the two central characters being women but know men that very much enjoy her books too.

Specifically in relation to The Sinner, this is a strong book - up there with The Surgeon and The Apprentice. The book gives the reader a deeper peep in to the private life of Maura Iles and introduces Father Brophy who becomes an important character in later books. The Sinner has a winning backdrop for any thriller - a cloistered convent - with all the mystery and intrigue that naturally conjures. As always, the pathology elements of the book add a vivid insight in to the aftermath of crime but are written in such a way that any reasonably proficient reader can understand. This book has it all - shocking crimes, disease and decay, blind alleys, foreign connections, conflicted faith, complex relationships, betrayal and much more. A great read.
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