The Mephisto Club by Tess Gerritsen
Rizzoli and Isles are back in their sixth adventure, facing off against a criminal who desecrates the corpses of his victims with occult symbols and strange rituals. And if that weren’t enough to deal with, they find themselves haunted by an elite club of crime-solving amateurs who’re convinced that their serial killer isn’t just evil, he’s Evil. (“The fru-its, of the de-vil,” as the Church Lady would say.) A few thoughts:
- This is among the more gruesome murder mysteries I’ve read, on par with the elaborate set pieces in Angels and Demons. I don’t read a lot of procedurals (mysteries that focus on police officers and follow the procedures of their investigations) so I can’t really compare this book to other similar ones.
- I read this particular book because my mystery book club decided to read it. I don’t usually choose to start a series in the middle, and I think it hurt my reading of this one — there was a lot of back story in the first half that I could tell I was missing.
- Gerritsen continues in the tradition of feminist detective writers by integrating the personal lives of the detectives into the stories. In this one, one of the detectives faces a home where her parents are separated and acting like teenagers while the other detective contemplates having an affair with a Catholic priest. It’s not a cheery addition to the story from either side.
- The titular amateur detective society that butts its nose into the story reminded me quite a bit of the Vicdoq Society from The Murder Room. The crucial difference is that the real-life society of crime-solving detectives from around the world only gets involved in cold cases, and only with direct request from the principals investigating the case. In this book, the Mephisto club wields its mysterious influence to get into the case.
- The solution of the mystery was pretty good, with a bit of suspense despite the fact that the novel gives you the perspective of the murderer a couple times throughout the story.
In general, I don’t like serial killer novels and I’m not too big on police procedurals. That said, The Mephisto Club is a well-written book for its genre, and the pace picks up in the second half of the book.