THE SHAPE OF NIGHT By Tess Gerritsen (Bantam, $A32.99) Released Australia: 1 October 2019
Tess Gerritsen is best known for her popular series about homicide detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Dr Maura Isles, which also formed the basis for the television show Rizzoli and Isles.
In her latest novel, The Shape Of Night, she leaves her detective duo behind and heads back into the realm of romantic suspense, where she initially enjoyed success in the earlier 1990s.
Successful cookery author Ava Collette flees her Boston apartment after an unspeakable tragedy and heads to a remote coastal village in Maine to write her new book and forget about what happened. She rents an old, isolated seaside mansion known as Brodie’s Watch, which has suddenly become vacant after the early departure of the previous tenant. Despite some quirks about the place, she feels at peace until she glimpses the ghost of the long-dead sea captain who supposedly still haunts the house.
Befuddled by her frequent drinking, she begins to welcome the ghost’s nightly visits, but is he real or is something more sinister at play. As she investigates the house’s ghostly past and the disappearance of the last tenant, she begins to suspect that a killer may be at work, or is someone from her past after her.
I am not usually a fan of paranormal or romantic suspense, but Gerritsen’s The Shape Of Night, works really well and is very engaging. Gerritsen is a highly professional author who knows how to pace a novel and her easy flowing story quickly draws the reader in. She does not waste a lot of time in building up to the ghost’s first appearance, but quickly establishes his presence and sets the various elements in place.
The story is cleverly structured, with the increasingly sinister revelations from Ava’s investigations into the house and the previous tenant, also being mirrored by the unveiling of revelations about Ava’s past and the events which led her to Brodie’s Watch. The apparent paranormal aspects are grounded by a good supporting cast of credible characters and Gerritsen’s evocative descriptions of the Maine coast and the inhabitants of the small town.
My only disappointment with the story was the perfunctory nature of the the modern day mystery plot, which is easy to work out and not terribly surprising. A few more twists and surprises would have made it a much better thriller.
In all, The Shape Of Night is a very enjoyable romantic suspense novel, especially for those who enjoy a touch of the paranormal. I rate it four stars out of 5.
The Shape Of Night is due for release in Australia on 1 October. Thanks to the Canberra Weekly and Penguin Random House Australia for an early copy of the book.