I finished Tess Gerritsen's The Killing Place last night. The blurb:
In Wyoming for a medical conference, Boston medical examiner Maura Isles joins a group of friends on a spur-of-the-moment ski trip. But when their SUV stalls on a snow-choked mountain road, they’re stranded with no help in sight.
As night falls, the group seeks refuge from the blizzard in the remote village of Kingdom Come, where twelve eerily identical houses stand dark and abandoned. Something terrible has happened in Kingdom Come: Meals sit untouched on tables, cars are still parked in garages. The town’s previous residents seem to have vanished into thin air, but footprints in the snow betray the presence of someone who still lurks in the cold darkness — someone who is watching Maura and her friends.
Days later, Boston homicide detective Jane Rizzoli receives the grim news that Maura’s charred body has been found in a mountain ravine. Shocked and grieving, Jane is determined to learn what happened to her friend. The investigation plunges Jane into the twisted history of Kingdom Come, where a gruesome discovery lies buried beneath the snow. As horrifying revelations come to light, Jane closes in on an enemy both powerful and merciless—and the chilling truth about Maura’s fate.
In this next Rizzoli and Isles book, you can feel the merciless cold of deep winter, sense the threat to the stranded group from the shadows without knowing why and sympathise with Maura at being stuck with this group of group of people who are almost determined to be unhappy:
Handsome Doug Comley, the pathologist Maura meets up with, is a man who lives life to the limit, never believing things could go wrong; his daughter Grace, is a manipulative, pouting teenager who uses her parents' divorce as a stick to get her own way; Arlo, the food critic, perpetually hungry and his girlfriend, Elaine, who wants to have an affair with Doug and who can't make her own decisions.
In the throes of a personal crisis, Maura agrees to go on a ski-trip with this group, trusting Doug, even when she has doubts. She is the outsider, and the others agree with Doug to their peril.
Maura is presumed dead, but faithful friend Jane Rizzoli isn't so sure - even on the flimsiest of clues; Daniel, the cause of so much unhappiness and joy for Maura, resolutely secludes himself to grieve. I thought him a coward with his indecision over the relationship and the absolute conviction that Maura was dead.
And so the hunt for Maura is on. A religious cult, a boy in the icy wilderness, unfriendly locals, an empty village with dead pets, blood stains and eerie silence, all conspire to give the reader a bit of a chill (pun intended) as the story moves towards an inevitable and deadly confrontation.
The characters are well drawn, the situation realistic as Maura understands rescue ain't coming soon. The tension increases with every page as decisions are made that have consequences - good and bad.
Fans of the series will be entertained by this new book, but I was left with a few, unanswered questions. There are also some 'tells' about some of the victims, rather than 'shows', and I wanted the show, the proof. The confrontation with the cult's religious leader was a little strange, too, with a 'why did they do that?' thought.
In the end, Maura is changed, both physically and emotionally. How will she deal with it all? I guess we'll have to wait for the next book.