Published: October 27, 2015
Obtained via: Publisher via Library
Reviewed by name and email address: Gina Ginalrmreviews@gmail.com
On her last day in Rome, at the end of a successful concert tour, violinist Julia Ansdell searches for her own personal souvenir of the trip. She has found something special for her three year old daughter, Lily and her husband Rob. Now it is time to find something for herself. She finds it in a piece of music—a hauntingly beautiful piece of music. When she returns home and plays the music though, her world tilts. Strange things begin to happen each time she plays the piece. More than just her fingers struggling to find their way on her violin, her child, her beloved Lily, begins to react in frightening ways.
A world away, decades earlier, the world is also in turmoil. As WWII and its horrors seep into Italy, into Venice. At first innocuous, the insidious crawl into the despicable begins to happen to one family. First, Lorenzo Todesco, a violinist of incredible talent, is told he cannot compete with Laura, a cellist in a renowned content. Then, bit by bit the Jews of Venice have their lives stripped from them—their businesses shut down, schools told they cannot teach them, and then the round up. Lorenzo is separated from his family and is made to participate in a musical farce at one of the prison camps. Not that his music is a farce; but the reason for collecting these Jewish musicians. It is his hauntingly, yet excruciatingly beautiful music that Julia has found. Within the music is the heartbreak of that long ago time.
Tess Gerritsen is an auto read for me and has been since I read her first book, Adventures Mistress in the mid-1980s. She has a clean, crisp writing style that draws her readers in and makes them feel a part of the story. Known primarily for her Rizzoli & Isles series PLAYING WITH FIRE is a very different tale for her. It is a highly emotional read for both what happened in the past and the devastation of what begins to happen to a family in the present. It is an utterly depressing read in all aspects. While there is a resolution, of sorts to both threads of the story, neither outcome is truly a happy ending because of the disturbing beginnings of the interwoven stories.
That does not make this a bad book or a bad read. Far from it. It is Gerritsen at her best. Much of the writing, her voice in this book, is reminiscent of M.J. Rose’s in her Reincarnationist series. At times I had to remind myself that this is Gerritsen’s work, not Rose’s. That said, there is the sense that Gerritsen herself struggled with the writing of this tale because of the emotional impact that lingers long after the final page is read.
This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.