Playing with Fire by Tess Gerritsen (a book review)

This is a bittersweet story about two violinists from two different time periods—contemporary and between pre-Nazi-occupied Italy and 1943. Their tales are told in every other section of the book. Professional violinist, Julia Ansdell—whose story is set in contemporary times—brings into her life a mysterious music composition she finds inserted in a music book she purchases in a small Italian antiques shop. Upon finishing a performance, she decides to shop for souvenirs and buys the book before flying back to the U.S., where she lives with her husband, Rob, and three-year-old daughter, Lily.

Shortly after she starts to play the mysterious musical piece composed by someone named Lorenzo Todesco, strange things start happening that disrupt her routine and her family relationships. She surmises it has to do with Todesco’s oddly sad and complex musical composition. Todesco is the other violinist whose story is set between the early 1920s and mid-1940s. The reader learns about his aspirations and fate.

The two violinists’ stories are woven together making this book a combined thriller, love story, and a historical piece. Ambitiously told but not overly long, it is entertaining and illuminating from a historical context at the same time. The writer, Tess Gerritsen, is the author of a book series featuring Boston detective, Jane Rizzoli, and medical examiner, Maura Isles. Her book series was optioned as a TV series, Rizzoli & Isles, which first appeared about six or seven years ago. I believe this year will be the last season for the series. Although I haven’t watched the TV show, I’ve read all of Gerritsen’s book series and most of her standalone books. I’ve listed those that I’ve read below in the order they were published. I shall continue updating the list below, as I finish reading her new publications.

Rizzoli & Isles
The Surgeon Standalone
Call After Midnight
The Apprentice Under the Knife
The Sinner Whistleblower
Body Double Never Say Die
Vanish Presumed Guilty
The Mephisto Club Girl Missing
The Keepsake Keeper of the Bride
Ice Cold Harvest
The Silent Girl Life Support
Rizzoli & Isles: Last to Die Bloodstream
Rizzoli & Isles: Die Again
The Keepsake

Standalone
Call After Midnight
Under the Knife
Whistleblower
Never Say Die
Presumed Guilty
Girl Missing
Keeper of the Bride
Harvest
Life Support
Bloodstream
Gravity
The Bone Garden
Playing with Fire

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