When Dr. Maura Isles comes back from a convention in Paris, she encounters a scene out of a nightmare: a woman was found dead in a car infront of her house and she looks just like the medical examiner. The investigation turns up evidence that this woman was her twin sister, and she is not the only relative Maura Isles meets during this exciting story about serial killers and other psychotic behavior.
I really like the way Gerritsen explores the friendship of Maura and Jane. The two women come from the most different places, with very different characters but at the end of the day, they genuinely like each other and nobody is more surprised about this than they are. They are unlikely allies but maybe this is why it works so well. It is cerainly one of the strongest appeals of the series and the one reason it has become a tv show because the friendship/relationship is the heart of the series (seriously, who cares about the murders on this show when Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander are eye-blazing each other?).
It is not the only appeal, though. Gerritsen writes exciting crime, baffling medical thriller. A lot of it is particularly gruesome and maybe the reader can find him- or herself in the devious Dr. O’Donnell who is a little too fascinated by the monsters she analyzes. I always found that my fascination with horror movies was a little macabre even if it also tends to lean toward the aesthetic. And I find the same fascination with Tess Gerritsen’s novels.
In this story, it may be especially strong because of that old question whether evil in human beings is inheritable. Where does it come from? Is it a question of DNA or of socialization? Gerritsen seems to tend more toward socialization and I would agree with her. But I am no expert, I am just a reader with too much time on her hands.
Well, where there is good, there is usually bad as well, and I have already talked about this in my review of The Sinner: heteronormativity rules. Maura finds herself another love interest while still fighting her attraction toward a catholic priest. And I find some disturbingly conservative gender role play at work. The difference between The Sinner and Body Double seems to be that Gerritsen is aware of it here. Mattie Purvis, a woman incarcerated during most of the story, seems to be commentary on classic heteronormative socialization and fights her way from desperate housewife to mother tigress. The subject matter demands the latter role and I would rather have had a woman who fights for her own sake rather than a baby’s but, I guess, some clichées can’t be helped. On the whole, the one thing that annoys me most is Maura’s desperate search for a man. Yes, she is forty years old, yes, she is attractive but does she really have to fall for every single male that struts her way. She’s like a cat in heat and her desperation is not very self-assertive. I can live with a single women, with a kick-ass job being the heroine of a crime series. I guess, this is where the tv show is actually better than the books.
Maybe it is a convention that we try to find a significant other for our heroines, maybe it is even a mirror held up to reality because every single (heterosexual) woman is looking for a man (I wouldn’t know) but I feel that Gerritsen pushes this point too hard. And with points that are being pushed too hard, the question of why is never far from my mind. This is where everybody is welcome to make their own interpretations. As for me, I think, I would welcome a steady love interest for Maura who is like Rizzoli’s agent Dean: a lot out of town. But, I guess, that’s just me.
It’s a good story, though. Much better than it’s predecessor and a reason to continue reading the series.