Body Double by Tess Gerritsen

Body Double by Tess Gerritsen

Reviewed by L.D.Y.

Hardcover (available in mass market), 339 pages, 2004

Rating: 6/10

Reason for Reading: The first three books in the series (The Surgeon; The Apprentice; The Sinner) had Gerritsen sitting on top of the forensic mysteries genre, in my opinion.

Synopsis: When medical examiner Maura Isles arrives home from a trip to find cops in front of her house, gathered around a car with a dead body inside, it’s obviously not good news. It gets worse, though, as in the darkness of night the cops mistook the shot woman for her, they looked so much alike. So who is this woman? And perhaps more importantly, was the look-alike the intended victim, or is a killer on the loose and after Maura?

Why you should read this book: Oh, it’s tough to think of a reason why it’s worth recommending this book over, or even with, Gerritsen’s previous three in the series, it really is. The characters themselves are still pretty strong, but the plot just can’t do them the justice they deserve. In fact, a big part of trudging through this book is the attachment to the characters that’s already been built up, including Maura and the very pregnant cop Jane Rizzoli, because you just can’t believe they’d succumb to such a mindless plot. It wouldn’t kill you to read this book if there was nothing else kicking around the house, but it probably wouldn’t make you very happy, either. Very middle-of-the-road.

Why you should avoid this book: Body Double is a big, lazy slip from the previous three books in this series. If Gerritsen doesn’t catch herself, she’s going to fall into the same problem as fellow forensic science author Patricia Cornwell: stale, predictable writing and a refusal to end a series that’s gotten nothing short of bad. It’s not a good sign when you’re wading through chapter after chapter with the characters pondering a great ‘mystery’ when you had it all pieced together in the first few chapters. The only worse sign is when the ending rolls around and you feel like the weirdest possible ending was pulled out of a hat (or a, um, less savoury location) in order to make the reader forget about the previous three hundred pages of predictability. Not to mention how scarce the forensic science was in this book – it actually felt less like a suspense novel and more like a soap opera. Bye-bye, scientific reasoning, hello, ridiculous.

Opening paragraph:

That boy was watching her again.
Fourteen-year-old Alice Rose tried to focus on the ten exam questions on her desk, but her mind was not on freshman English; it was on Elijah. She could feel the boy’s gaze, like a beam aimed at her face, could feel its heat on her cheek, and knew she was blushing.

Fabulous quotes:

Abe suspended the brain in a bucket of formalin. ‘No surprises so far,’ he said, as he turned to perform the neck dissection.
‘You’ll be running tox screens?’ asked Rizzoli.
Abe shrugged. ‘We can send one off, but I’m not sure it’s necessary. The cause of death is right up there.’ He nodded toward the light box, where the bullet stood out against the cranial shadow. ‘You have any reason to want a tox screen? Did CST find any drugs or paraphernalia in the car?’
‘Nothing. The car was pretty tidy. I mean, except for the blood.’
‘And all of it is from the victim?’
‘It’s all B positive, anyway.’
Abe glanced at Yoshima. ‘You typed our gal yet?’
Yoshima nodded. ‘It matches. She’s B positive.’
No one was looking at Maura. No one saw her chin snap up, or heard her sharp intake of breath. Abruptly she turned so they could not see her face, and she untied her mask, pulling it off with a brisk tug.

She’d already explored every square inch of her prison. Had found no weaknesses, no cracks she could dig into or widen. She had spread the blanket beneath her, a welcome padding on that hard wood. Had learned to use the plastic bedpan without too much splashing, Even while trapped in a box, life settles into a routine. Sleep. Sip water. Pee. All she really had to help her keep track of the passing time was her supply of food. How many Hershey bars she’d eaten, and how many were left.

Instead, try: The Empty Chair by Jeffery Deaver; Forty Words for Sorrow by Giles Blunt; The Treatment by Mo Hayder.

Also by this author: The Mephisto Club; The Bone Garden; Stolen; Call After Midnight; Vanish; The Surgeon; The Apprentice; The Sinner; Gravity; Bloodstream; Life Support; Harvest.

Author’s website:

Fun tidbit: Body Double wasn’t quite satisfying? At least there’s a collection of Creepy Biological Facts on Gerritsen’s website.

Would I read more by this author? Unfortunately, I’m going to have to hear a lot of positive word-of-mouth reviews to want to venture into reading her next book. Yes, Body Double was that much of a leap down in quality from the other books in the series.

© Lisa Yanaky 2003-2007

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