Sunday, 8 January 2017

The Apprentice by Tess Gerritsen (Rizzoli & Isles, #2) - Book Review

4.5/5 Stars



Edition: Paperback
Pages: 411
Chapters: 26
Publisher: Bantam Books

Book Links: Goodreads
                      Author's Website


Where does evil come from? Why does its stain never vanish?

What happens when one serial killer joins another?

The Apprentice doesn't exactly answer these questions with definitive answers, but it sure as hell plagues the reader's mind with dark guesses. Following on from The Surgeon, Tess further stabilises her unforgiving world and solidifies the personalities that populate it. Everything is sharper.

With cutting continuity and changes to the intricacies of the story, Gerritsen sets a horrific foundation that shapes up to be a smashing suspense thriller. The nature of evil and its effect on the good dives deep into the reader's brain, forcing uncomfortable questions to the surface, all the while these themes clash with passion vs clinical examination.

If you're looking for a thought-provoking thriller that explores the darkest parts of a human's psyche then The Apprentice (plus The Surgeon, this novel's predecessor) is a book you shouldn't pass up.

But be ready for graphic depravities that will chill you to your core...



A series of horrific murders seem disturbingly familiar to Detective Jane Rizzoli. They remind her and Forensic Pathologist Maura Isles of those committed by a killer known as the Surgeon, who they recently put behind bars.

While they're still trying to track down the new killer, the unthinkable happens: the Surgeon escapes. Suddenly, Jane is chasing not one but two brilliant and twisted minds, united by one goal...

To perfect their skills on the woman who's hunting them.

Plot - 4.5/5 Stars

South Boston and Detective Jane Rizzoli have both faced an impenetrable darkness and lived to tell the tale. But evil never truly dies, and even alive and behind bars, it's a ghost that haunts the memories of those it has touched. Right from the get-go, The Apprentice is a bleak bonanza of brutality. A bloody start sets a gruesome tone, and drags Rizzoli into the path of a deranged killer who's inspiration is the man she put in jail.

The sharp descriptions, as I've said, shock and awe with their ferocity, and the novel benefits from the author's unwavering honesty about the realities of a world most are lucky to avoid. The mysteries intrigue, with detective work and forensic science working in tandem to create an exhilarating experience.

I am a little annoyed at just how much the blurb at the back of the book gives away. It's hooking, without a doubt, but it contains 'surprises' that the story painstakingly tries to build up. But it's hard to make a shock truly shocking when you know from the start it's coming.

That doesn't stop the author, though, and the Surgeon's escape from prison still invigorates the reader with its potential progressions. From there we're battered with morbid discoveries that do not fail to horrify you, especially when Tess terrifies with astute dissections of the killers' minds.

I half expected someone to say: What's worse than one bloodthirsty serial killer?

How about two working together?

Oh, and Jane, they're after you...

It's seriously chilling stuff, with every shadow becoming an omen of death.

It's in this area that The Apprentice excels; the way it burrows beneath the dirt deeper that its predecessor. Are killers born killers? Or raised that way? A combination? Or is it possible to be born 'normal', and thanks to a knock on the head, lose morality and the ability to control our darker impulses? It's a fascinating discussion that sinks its dirty claws into your reasoning. We're forced into an uncomfortable corner with a simple question: Does everyone always have a choice?

The conclusion is satisfying as hell, and it cements The Apprentice as a phenomenal psychological thriller.

Pace - 4.5/5 Stars

The Apprentice, thanks in large part to Tess's wonderful writing and structure, sails ahead at sensational speeds. I honestly couldn't turn the pages fast enough. It doesn't matter how info-heavy a scene is, it's seared into your brain.

I will admit there were times I felt the novel could've been shortened a little, but it's not a massive concern.

Characters - 4.5/5 Stars

The return of Detective Jane Rizzoli is a welcome one that unnerves me; a contradictory statement that's apt for the character. In The Surgeon, Jane teams up with Thomas Moore, who, sadly, makes brief cameo calls in this entry (damn, I liked him). Instead we see the smooth introduction of the darkly alluring Maura Isles, whose calm, affable nature around the dead demands respect and fear. She's prominent, but the series still doesn't feel like it deserves its name of Rizzoli & Isles, with Maura meandering quite a few steps behind Jane.

Jane Rizzoli herself is an exceptional character, and one that, after her experiences in the first novel, is a little tamer. The Surgeon does great work with her, but The Apprentice does better, as if the author has synchronised fully with her character and both have found their feet. Jane is still tenacious and temperamental, prone to harsh judgements and isolating behaviour, but she exudes a fire that consumes. She stoic and intelligent, but like any fantastic protagonist, she shows cracks of vulnerability.

The author does deliver some feminist-feeling themes, much like in the previous book, but she never goes overboard. She portrays honest discrimination, and balances it with hints of paranoia. Yes, there are sexists within the force that salivate for the moment Jane, a woman, crumbles, but, mostly, Jane's team are in awe of her abilities.

With Thomas Moore absent, Jane finds a new partner in Vince Korsak, a Newton Police Detective that's brash, unapologetic, and not incomparable to a wrecking ball. Technically, Barry Frost is Rizzoli's partner, but they never really seem to be together. Vince, on the other hand, is the perfect counterpart to our main character. He can take her abrasive attitude, even offering a sarcastic retort in response to her fiery anger.

I will note that fans of the show should suspend what they're used to in the series' characters, because, so far, they're all radically different.

Writing - 4.5/5 Stars

Simply superb. Structure, scenes, and character dissections are the highlights of the novel. Probably the most important aspects of the story, Gerritsen nails them with an intense edge. I suggest you skip whatever meal you were planning to have before picking The Apprentice up; oh, and you'd probably be better reading it during the day.

Overall - 4.5/5 Stars

The Apprentice is a black thriller that eagerly immerses the reader in a psychological swamp of blood. We see hunters being hunted and the reconciliation of fear and hope. I've yet to mention the inspirational aspects of this novel, but they're there and wholly satisfying. Jane embodies a complex character that refuses to do anything but survive, and slowly, she comes to realise that not everyone she thinks is out to get her really is.

Let's hope the series keeps climbing.

Previous Instalment: The Surgeon

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