The Sinner by Tess Gerritsen

The Sinner by Tess Gerritsen

Reviewed by L.D.Y.

Hardcover (available in mass market), 342 pages, 2003

Rating: 9/10

Reason for Reading: Gerritsen is the best forensic science-based thriller writer around.

Synopsis: It’s almost impossible to imagine – one nun murdered and another left for dead in a savage attack in a church in a secluded nunnery. Medical examiner Maura Isles, with the help of Detective Jane Rizzoli, must uncover the secrets the dead have left her. The criminals are hiding things, certainly, but the investigation is hampered because it seems that nuns can have secrets too…

Why you should read this book: Gerritsen keeps the third book in this series fresh by passing most of the narrative duties from Rizzoli to the more sensitive Isles, who adds a very human touch to the difficult cases that she’s working. Gerritsen’s writing still feels fresh in a market that’s become fairly saturated with forensic science novels.

Why you should avoid this book: No serial killers here, if that’s what you want from the genre. Gerritsen occasionally falls into the predictable, such as murderers chasing medical examiners, but unlike other authors of forensic novels, she can at least explain it beyond the ‘He must have seen me on television and hated me on sight, that crazy psychopath!’ cliché.

Opening paragraph:

The driver refused to take him any further.
A mile back, right after they passed the abandoned Octagon chemical plant, the pavement had given way to an overgrown dirt road. Now the driver complained that his car was getting scraped by underbrush, and with the recent rains, there were muddy spots where their tires could get mired. And where would that leave them? Stranded, 150 kilometers from Hyderabad. Howard Redfield listened to the long litany of objections, and knew they were merely a pretext for the real reason the driver did not wish to proceed. No man easily admits that he is afraid.

Fabulous quotes:

In all her years of undressing corpses, Maura had never felt such reluctance to strip a victim nude. This was a woman who had chosen to live hidden from the eyes of men; now she would be cruelly revealed, her body probed, her orifices swabbed. The prospect of such an invasion brought a bitter taste to Maura’s throat and she paused to regain her composure. She saw Yoshima’s questioning glance. If he was disturbed, he did not show it. His impassive face was a calming face in that room, where the very air seemed charged with emotion.

‘I’d say he whacked her right in here,’ said Crowe, ‘Dragged her in, shoves her up against the wall, and pulls the trigger. Then he does the amputations, right where she falls.’
Maura stared down at the blood on the tiles. Only a few smears, because by then the victim is already dead. Her heart has stopped beating, stopped pumping. She feels nothing as the killer crouches beside her, and his blade sinks deep into her wrist, prying apart joints. As he slices through her flesh, peeling away her face as though he is skinning a bear. And when he is done collecting his prizes, he leaves her there, like a discarded carcass, an offering to scavengers that infest this abandoned building.

Also recommended: Forty Words for Sorrow by Giles Blunt; The Bone Collector by Jeffery Deaver; The Empty Chair by Jeffery Deaver.

Also by this author: The Bone Garden; The Mephisto Club; Vanish; Body Double; The Apprentice; The Surgeon; Gravity; Bloodstream; Life Support; Harvest; Call After Midnight; Under the Knife; Never Say Die; Whistleblower; Presumed Guilty; In Their Footsteps; Peggy Sue Got Murdered; Thief of Hearts; Keeper of the Bride.

Author’s website:

© Lisa Yanaky 2003-2007

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