Title: The Killing Place
Hardback: 336 pages
Publication Date: 24/06/2010
After reading this book I will definitely be avoiding pathology conferences and the hills of Wyoming in the future[and whilst we’re at it lets throw in cults as well – although they’re creepy enough anyway]. Tess Gerritsen’s latest book featuring Rizzoli and Isles is undoubtedly her most chilling yet. At a pathology conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming [where apparently images of ruptured testicles don’t even raise a stir – one pathologist even snoring his way through the gruesome slideshow], Maura Isles meets a former colleague and decides to accompany him, his daughter and a couple into the mountains for a few days skiing.
There are a number of knowing allusions to horror film conventions, from the group not telling anyone where they’re going [will no-one ever learn?] to the dilapidated gas station that they stop at just before going into the wilderness, where an old man warns them against going up the mountain. Fairly soon everything starts to go wrong. Their car overturns in the heavy snow, leaving them thirty miles from any sort of civilization. [Un]luckily for them, they discover the community of Kingdom Come [which sounds like it should be in a Stephen King novel], where all of the inhabitants seem to have disappeared, leaving behind them half-finished meals and unlocked doors.
And their chances of escaping end when one of the party is horrifically injured as they try to attach snow-chains to a car they find in Kingdom Come [his leg is torn almost completely off]. The subsequent attempt to tie-off the severed artery without any anesthetic had me squirming in my seat. And with Maura finding tracks in the snow around the village and personal items disappearing, the tension really begins to mount up.
Previous to this novel I had always found Rizzoli to be the character that I empathized with and preferred out of her and Isles. Maura had always seemed to be a slightly cold and aloof figure, but this perception was completely changed by this book. The hardships, both mental and physical, that she goes through in The Killing Place help to humanize her [although quite frankly, if someone wasn’t changed by what Maura experiences in this book then you would be slightly worried].
And by moving the action away from Boston and having Isles as the central character, Gerritsen has avoided that problem that can arise for crime series where a formula is used so many times that it begins to lose its appeal [a charge that could definitely be laid at the feet of a couple of books that I have unsuccessfully tried to read recently]. An edgy, nerve-racking read that I polished off in only a few days, I highly recommend this book.