Thursday, October 27, 2011

Rizzoli & Isles Novel Ice Cold, Followed Immediately By The Shining: Two Creepy, Snow-filled Tales

Snowy thrillers, much? Don't mind if I do. Entirely unplanned, my week has become one long thriller/ horror tale marathon -- all mixed in with a little (or a lot) of wintery weather. No, not here in Tennessee. The weather has actually been gorgeous this week: high 70s each day, autumn colors exploding on the trees. But in my fictional life? That's another story entirely.

I started listening to Tess Gerritsen's Ice Cold a week or two ago, when I ran out of Audible titles and reverted to library audiobooks. Ice Cold had languished in my audiobook iTunes library ever since I loaded six or seven titles back before my Africa trip this summer. I won't call it a mistake, because I enjoyed listening to it and finishing it last weekend, but I really should have listened to this book earlier! It was along the vein of my favorite audiobooks -- Lisa Gardner's D. D. Warren series.

I am a sometimes-viewer of the TNT series based on Gerritsen's novels, Rizzoli & Isles, but I've been a fan of Gerritsen's novels for even longer. I haven't always enjoyed the Rizzoli & Isles series as much as some of my top picks (Patricia Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta series, Sara Paretsky's V. I. Warshawski series, Kathy Reichs' Tempe Brennan series, and Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone series, just to name a few), but Gerritsen has been an author I return to. In the last few Rizzoli & Isles novels, however, Gerritsen seems to have really risen to a new level in her writing.

Ice Cold was an excellent just-before-Halloween read, because it had an extra dose of creepiness. In a departure from the series' usual Boston setting, Gerritsen sends forensic pathologist Maura Isles to a conference in Wyoming. Once there, Isles runs into an old college pal and finds herself driving along snowy roads for a quick ski trip with his friends and teenage daughter. A sudden blizzard strands the group, who seeks shelter in a cluster of abandoned houses.

Once they start to explore their new surroundings, Maura and the group find many things off-kilter in Kingdom Come, the settlement. Back in Boston, homicide detective and friend Jane Rizzoli receives news that a burned vehicle containing the charred body of Maura has been found. Jane flies to Wyoming to investigate the alleged death of her comrade, and falls into a twisted tale worthy of a television miniseries. Kingdom Come happens to be an outpost of a religious cult whose members follow the prophet Jeremiah Goode.

Gerritsen combined a fast-paced plot with a new-to-these-characters setting, and threw in some character development for good measure. She did so with writing finesse, making for a rich and enjoyable reading experience. It was so good, my next (immediate) Audible purchase was Gerritsen's latest Rizzoli & Isles novel, The Silent Girl, which I'm already half-way through.

Hotel where outside shots of The Shining were filmed
Then last night, my fiance suggested we watch Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, based of course on Stephen King's novel of the same name. I had seen parts of it sometime in the past, but I didn't recall a thing. I won't spoil the plot for you, but let's just say it was: a) a perfect movie for Halloween and b) full of snow. Like, piles and piles of snow. I have no idea how it matches up to King's novel, since I'm not much of a horror reader. King, however, has stated that he "would do everything different. The real problem is that Kubrick set out to make a horror picture with no apparent understanding of the genre" (via IMDB's "The Shining (1980) - FAQ"). While I wasn't the biggest fan of the ending, it was a movie that held our attention from beginning to end. I thought that it was a well-made film, and who (besides Stephen King, apparently) dislikes Jack Nicholson?

In short, this week I recommend that you both read Gerritsen's Ice Cold and watch The Shining in preparation for Halloween. The fact that they are both tales that thrill and also contain large amounts of snow was not planned, but enjoyed nonetheless.

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