On her latest trip to Rome, talented violinist Julia Ansdell, buys a book of gypsy music at a local antique store and discovers within its pages a handwritten piece of music entitled the Incendio Waltz. Once home with her family, loving husband Rob and beautiful three year old daughter Lily, Julia sits down to play this piece of music. The melody is hauntingly mesmerizing and completely captivates her attention; but while it is blissful for Julia, this same piece of music is causing strange and disturbing behaviour in her young daughter. With only the name L. Todesco as a clue, and determined to understand the cause of her daughter’s chilling outbursts, Julia uncovers the tragic love story of Lorenzo and Laura and unwittingly unearths a dark and ugly moment in Italian history.
Having read all of Tess Gerritsen’s novels, including the entire Rizzoli & Isles series and her standalones, I jumped at the chance to read and review her latest thriller, Playing with Fire. Having made a name for herself in the mystery/thriller department, Tess Gerritsen adds a welcome dose of historical fiction to the mix in this dark and chilling fast paced thriller. She is a masterful storyteller and I just loved how the two timelines complimented each other, blending a quick paced and thrilling plotline with an equally poignant and intricately researched historical component that added such richness, emotion (and a little bit of romance) to the overall feel and flow of the novel. Reading about the fate of Lorenzo and his fellow Italian Jews during WWII was both fascinating and educational without being too overbearing or dark.
With Julia, Lorenzo and Laura, Tess Gerritsen has created strong, intelligent, and emotionally involved characters that the reader can easily engage with and care about. On this level, the author never disappoints. The passion of creating and playing music shared by the characters was intense and beautifully captured and portrayed throughout the story. Although I found some of their dialogue to be slightly cringe-worthy, I can honestly say that I was so involved with the characters trials and tribulations that the ending absolutely, positively took me for a loop. Bravo!
Playing with Fire is definitely for those who like a side of historical fiction with their mystery thrillers. If you’ve enjoyed Tess Gerritsen’s previous novels, or if you have come across her for the very first time, I recommend you pick up a copy of Playing with Fire. You will not be disappointed!
I give Playing with Fire 4/5 stars.
Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing (Ballantine Books) for providing me an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.