Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Book Review: Playing with Fire by Tess Gerritsen

Book: Playing With Fire

Author: Tess Gerritsen

Pages: 250

Read on: Kindle

Read in: 3 hours

Plot Summary: The first time Julia Ansdell picks up The Incendio Waltz, she knows it’s a strikingly unusual composition. But while playing the piece, Julia blacks out and awakens to find her young daughter implicated in acts of surprising violence.

And when she travels to Venice to find the previous owner of the music, she uncovers a dark secret that involves dangerously powerful people—a family who would stop at nothing to keep Julia from bringing the truth to light.

Things I Liked: Quick List: 

1. I have read many books by Tess Gerritsen and I even enjoy the TV show Rizzoli & Isles, which is loosely based on the characters of Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles created by her. If you don't know much about Tess Gerritsen, she is a mystery writer with a sharp focus on the medical aspects of the case, given Gerritsen's background in Medicine. So, this book was a bit of a pleasant surprise because this is a historical fiction. In fact, the first historical fiction piece written by her. I really enjoy historical fiction and this was a pretty well-written book which covered a pretty different aspect of World War II. 

2. The book is very fast-paced and there is nothing superfluous in there! No fluff chapters, no events that don't have a bearing on the overall narrative, no fillers. I love my thrillers to be tautly written page turners and this book delivers that in spades! 

3. The characters, both in present day and in the 1940s, are lovely and well-etched. Julia is someone who is kind and is struggling because of her family history of mental illness, but she is also resilient and willing to take risks to find out the origin story of the Incendio waltz. Lorenzo, the mysterious composer of the waltz, is a wonderful, caring, kind and prodigiously talented young man. Laura, the love of Lorenzo's life, is brave, outspoken and helpful. These people showed extraordinary courage and humanity when the world around them had lost every shred of kindness. 

4. The circumstances under which the Incendio waltz was created by Lorenzo is so despairing and heart-breaking. Like so many tragic stories that have come out of World War II, this is yet another one which makes you wonder how human beings can do such awful things to one another?! Truly devastating and, yes, the circumstances are all real. Tess Gerritsen has done her research on the specific places and events that she mentions that led to Lorenzo composing this piece of music. 

5. The story is set in Italy during WWII and it is quite interesting to see how different Italy was compared to France and Germany during that time, especially, with regard to how long it took for the Germans to get the Italians to ostracise their Jewish citizens. Also, how in spite of the new anti-Semitic laws and such, there were loads of Italians who hid and helped their Jewish friends and neighbours. Like Gerritsen says in the Afterword, we need to celebrate the victims and the heroes. 

6. The mystery behind the music evoking something violent in Julia's daughter is also explained satisfactorily. 

Things I Didn't Like: Nothing as such, though, I wish there was even more of the 1940s (there already is quite a bit) in the book.

Rating: 4.5/5

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