Playing with Fire by T. Gerritsen

Three stars is only for the effort to discuss some socially relevant ideas for this type of books. Granted, this is the evil that is easy to condemn and explore because it is an obvious evil. It is the one that the humanity should remember for a a long time; otherwise, its repetition is inevitable, but still it is the social issue that has been universally condemned – the Holocaust.

It is only a pretense that this book is a literary novel. No, it is not, it is a mediocre thriller with the important social message, and the book gets three stars for the attempt of this message. The message aside, the book suffers from the usual things thrillers usually suffer – poor and shallow characters, no insight into human psyche, all is easily there – one should not go far and beyond emotionally to read these characters.
The funny thing is I read Tess Gerritsen’s blog about how e-books turn readers into sloppy ones because they are less likely to ‘page back’ and find the clues authors have left. The statement is made in reference to some inexplicable plot twists as her regular readers pointed out. I listened to the audio while commuting to work, so it was impossible to ‘page back’ for clues, but the mystery became not so much of mystery after 30-35 minutes of listening to the book. It was so obvious even for the audio version … What kind of readers do you have, dear author?

How about truly challenging your readers with some serious stuff? Oh, well, then books will not sell so easily, I assume ….

The biggest pet peeve is the main character. I attended secondary musical school that supplements regular secondary education in Russia, and it take 7 years to graduate when one attends the classes in the evening on a daily basis, and it is hard work, even if it only voluntary supplementary musical education that requires daily effort. The main character in the book played the violin three times, each time less that 5 minutes …. yeahhh … Miss Gerritsen, the life of professional musicians is even more strenuous that attending arts school on a daily basic just to supplement one’s secondary education. What is the conclusion if some brain candy conservative right-wing reader reads this novel (and thrillers are their domain, after all)? They will confirm their beliefs that those artsy good-for nothing people still do nothing and never ever worry a day about bills and daily errands.
This is what the main character is – a butterfly without any social worries, money issues, concerns, and other things that make us human.

A bad thriller with literary pretense, and an extra star for an attempt to deal with some serious topics.

On the other hand, why can’t a genre writer write a a thriller about racism or other genocides, like the one against the Native Americans? Do you think your readers will never buy your books again?

P.S. The musical piece is beautiful and haunting. I would not call it a waltz, but it is a matter of opinion here 🙂


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