2   +   4   =  

Now I have an all-consuming full-time job, it’s very rare for me to find a book I genuinely can’t put down. However, Tess Gerritsen’s latest offering has seen cups of tea go cold, colleagues ignored in my lunch break to catch a few moments alone with the story, and a sudden realisation that it was one in the morning and I was still utterly absorbed in a novel.

Playing with Fire is very different to anything of Gerritsen’s I’ve read before. Normally she presents twists and turns as she leads the reader through a completely believable story, all with a reliable narrator and a straight-talking voice. However, with this new novel, the reader needs to suspend all belief from the word go.

First of all, Julia’s three-year-old daughter Lily stabs their cat to death. Then, a few days later she fishes a piece of broken glass from the bin and stabs her mother in the leg.  Lily wants her mother dead. What is strange is that on both occasions, Julia was playing a haunting and dramatic piece of music she found tucked into an expensive antique book bought from a mysterious back-street shop in Rome.Playing with Fire

Julia begins to think ‘Incendio’ is cursed as it turns her daughter into a monster every time she plays it, but no one around her believes her and she finds herself sat in the waiting rooms of psychiatrists. But not all is as it seems, as the music is steeped in a dark history that’s creating some dangerous enemies, and in the end everything becomes clear.

What I love most about Gerritsen’s writing is that she wastes no time with fluffy descriptions or deep character histories. She gets on with the story, sharing the bare minimum of detail to sustain momentum, and slams action-packed moment after action-packed moment into the hands of the reader.

This is another fantastic thriller from Gerritsen, with a punchy and shocking storyline, more unexpected twists than ever seen before, and a gut-wrenchingly sad ending of love and loss. Although thrillers aren’t for everyone, Playing with Fire is one for everyone and is sure to rocket up the charts when released later this week. Good luck putting it down.

★★★★★

Playing with Fire is published by Bantam Press on 5 November 2015. 

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