For the first time since she moved from mass market originals to hardcover (with 1996's Harvest), Gerritsen offers a sequel—to last year's bestselling The Surgeon. It's a smart move, as in that novel this popular author introduced a terrific lead character, Jane Rizzoli, a female Boston homicide detective who rivals Patricia Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta for intensity and complexity. Her nemesis, serial killer Warren Hoyt, aka the Surgeon, whom Rizzoli sent to prison, returns here, too; that's not so terrific, as he's basically a Hannibal Lecter clone, though Gerritsen does pair him up this time with a second serial killer, known among cops as the Dominator. The discovery of the corpse of one of the Dominator's victims in a ritzy Boston suburb gets the action moving. Rizzoli notes connections between the Dominator's handiwork and that of Hoyt, and visits Hoyt behind bars. Eventually it's revealed that Hoyt and the Dominator have contacted one another by mail. Hoyt escapes and links up with the Dominator, and it's no surprise that Rizzoli is their number one target. The novel is suspenseful and stuffed with an encyclopedia's worth of tightly detailed forensic lore. Rizzoli gets a new love interest (Hoyt killed her last one, in The Surgeon), an FBI agent, which is handled with realism and subtlety, but her fuming at man's inhumanity to woman may grate on male readers. There are first-person italicized passages from Hoyt's point of view, a genre cliché, and at times the grisliness of the murders tends toward sensationalism. This strong thriller should sell very well, but it's not Gerritsen's best. (Aug. 20)
Forecast:The return of Rizzoli, a major ad/promo campaign and an 8-city author tour should counterbalance any less-than-enthusiastic word of mouth.