Sunday, December 17, 2006

Mystery Book Review: The Mephisto Club by Tess Gerritsen

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written our review of The Mephisto Club by Tess Gerritsen. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.The Mephisto Club by Tess Gerritsen

The Mephisto Club by Tess Gerritsen
A Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles Mystery

Ballantine Books (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-345-47699-9 (0345476999)
ISBN-13: 978-0-345-47699-9 (9780345476999)
Publication Date: September 2006
List Price: $25.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): PECCAVI. The Latin is scrawled in blood at the scene of a young woman's brutal murder: I HAVE SINNED. It's a chilling Christmas greeting for Boston medical examiner Maura Isles and Detective Jane Rizzoli, who swiftly link the victim to controversial celebrity psychiatrist Joyce O'Donnell—Jane's professional nemesis and member of a sinister cabal called the Mephisto Club.

On tony Beacon Hill, the club's acolytes devote themselves to the analysis of evil: Can it be explained by science? Does it have a physical presence? Do demons walk the earth? Drawing on a wealth of dark historical data and mysterious religious symbolism, the Mephisto scholars aim to prove a startling theory: that Satan himself exists among us. With the grisly appearance of a corpse on their doorstep, it's clear that someone-or something-is indeed prowling the city. Soon, the members of the club begin to fear the very subject of their study. Could this maniacal killer be one of their own-or have they inadvertently summoned an evil entity from the darkness?

Delving deep into the most baffling and unusual case of their careers, Maura and Jane embark on a terrifying journey to the very heart of evil, where they encounter a malevolent foe more dangerous than any they have ever faced . . . one whose work is only just beginning.

Review: The Mephisto Club is the sixth mystery in this series featuring Boston detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles, this time on the case of the brutal murder of a young woman on Christmas Eve. Though both women participate in the investigation, Jane plays a much larger role than Maura in the book.

The crime, and a subsequent murder, is quickly linked to an unusual group of wealthy individuals who are members of the Mephisto Club, an organization that seeks out evil in the world. The group is headed by a mysterious and powerful man with the highest level connections, giving him access to confidential information on the victims and the crimes. Though apparently working on the same side as the officials investigating the murder, it's not clear his objectives are the same. Is he part of the solution or part of the problem?

The Mephisto Club has a solid, effective, fast-paced plot with a number of unusual features that make it an above average thriller. The incorporation of obscure symbolism and the inclusion of arcane biblical references make the, at times, implausible storyline quite credible.

There are a few problems, however, that prevent The Mephisto Club from being first rate. In an effort to show the familial side of both Jane and Maura, Gerritsen includes two side stories that seem incongruous. For Jane, there are the droll scenes with her parents that seem to be present solely for comic relief. For Maura, it's her troubled relationship with Father Brophy. Neither seems terribly important for this book, but may simply have been included for the purpose of continuity of the series.

A more serious problem is the motivation of the culprit and the purpose for the murders. Though it appears to be personal, in the end, the implication is that there was an ulterior motive to the crimes that is at odds with the events that took place. It's rather convenient how it all turns out, and just a bit illogical.

Despite these few shortcomings, The Mephisto Club is definitely worth adding to your library.

Special thanks to The Book Report Network for providing a copy of The Mephisto Club for this review.

Review Copyright © 2006 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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