The Killing Place by Tess Gerritsen(Bantam Books)
Forensic pathologist and medical examiner Dr Maura Isles is at a medical conference in Wyoming when she joins up with an old acquaintance and his group of friends for a spontaneous getaway.

Not being the sort to usually be so impulsive, she quickly ends up regretting her decision when their SUV stalls and lands in a ditch in a snow-blanketed and mountainous area.

With no other option but to seek refuge, the group of 5 stumble upon the village of Kingdom Come. But something is wrong here.

For one, the locked-in and isolated village seems to be an abandoned cluster of 12 uncanny and eerily identical homes. Even more peculiar about it is that the houses show no signs of any outward forces of violence.

But meals sit untouched, animals left for dead and cars are parked in the garages of these houses with no signs of any people living there. What happened to the people of Kingdom Come?

And are they destined for the same fate?

Because unbeknownst to them, there's someone out there aware of their presence. Someone whose intentions may not have their best interests at heart.

When detective Jane Rizzoli receives word that her friend, Maura is missing, she and her husband head to Wyoming to investigate.

Determined to discover what has happened to her, the investigation soon plunges Jane into a world of a twisted, religious cult, where gruesome facts come to light and shocking discoveries lie buried beneath the snow.

One thing is certain, Jane will need all her wits about her if she wants to even have a hope of finding Maura alive ever again.

it's been a good while since I've read a crime thriller, so I was rather intrigued when Tess Gerritsen's latest novel, The Killing Place, arrived on my desk last week. Having never read any of her previous novels (she's got quite a few in the Rizzoli and Isles series), I wasn't sure what to expect.

Surprisingly enough, I loved the book.

As far as book series' go, my obvious concern was how well I'd be able to relate to the characters considering that they probably wouldn't be as fleshed out in this novels  in comparison her previous and earlier works.

Yet strangely enough, even though I didn't know the characters that intimately, it never detracted from the actual reading experience. In fact, the plot line was such an interesting one, that the book kept me glued to the pages in spite of any initial reservations I may have had about the book.

Also, the book progresses at such a level, that you actually find yourself not bothering to want to know the ins and out of their personality traits, but rather more about their actions and how they respond when they are in fight, flight and survival mode. And for me, that's usually the mark of a fantastic crime/thriller author.

Tess easily sweeps you in and takes you on a rollercoaster ride of fear and suspense, toying with your emotions even while the characters in the book are the ones who are forced to make decisions that may save their lives or kill them.

What I especially found interesting was how this was emphasised during the group's stay at one of the abandoned houses.

Not only were they forced to rely on each other to survive, but they were forced to hold onto their sanity while doing so too.

There's this sense conveyed that something as simple as the low moan of the wind will have someone's back up and the creak of the door will bring out the full force of paranoia - and you as the reader are forced to feel these feelings along with the characters every single step of the way.

The religious cult aspect of the novel added an extra creep factor to the novel  that surprised, horrified and left me feeling sympathetic to the victims who were part of this cult, but even more so for those who were cruelly cast out and left to fend for themselves.

The most surprising aspect of all though, was the ending and who the actual villains of the story ended up being. I got the sense that even though the ending boiled down to a confrontation between 1 person and Rizzoli and Isles, there was more than just one villain in this story.

What is clever about this is that you're lulled into a false sense of complacency about just who the villain is, and end up being completely blindsided by the final confrontation, that you're almost disappointed at who the actual villain is.

Still, I can hardly complain. This novel had so many twists and turns it kept me entertained throughout the entire novel. And has renewed my love of crime thrillers.

I'll be going back to read the rest of the books in her series - there's not doubt about that.

Tess Gerritsen will be in South Africa from the 22 - 25 March. She'll be signing copies of her books at the following stores:

March 23: Signing at Exclusive Books, Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, Cape Town, South Africa. 4:30 PM. 021 419 0905.

March 24: Signing at Exclusive Books Hyde Park, Shop U30, Hyde Park Corner, Jan Smuts Avenue, Johannesburg, South Africa. 4:30. 011 325 4298.

Watch out for our up and coming interview with her next week.

Keen on reading this book? Click here to either review the book or purchase your own copy.

Are you a fan of Tess Gerritsen's Rizzoli and Isles series? Which one is your favourite?

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