Today I share my thoughts on The Shape of Night by Tess Gerritsen as part of the blog tour. Thanks go to publisher Bantam Press for providing an advance copy for review and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part. Here’s what it’s all about:
About the Book
We’ve all done things we’re ashamed of . . .
When Ava arrives at Brodie’s Watch, she thinks she has found the perfect place to hide from her past. Something terrible happened, something she is deeply ashamed of, and all she wants is to forget.
But the old house on the hill both welcomes and repels her and Ava quickly begins to suspect she is not alone. Either that or she is losing her mind.
The house is full of secrets, but is the creeping sense of danger coming from within its walls, or from somewhere else entirely?Available from: Amazon | Waterstones | Kobo | Google Play | Apple Books
Okay. So when I was invited to read this book I admit I was intrigued. Partly because it was a standalone and, having only read one Rizzoli and Isles book, that was far easier than catching up on a series, and partly because of the chilling tone of the blurb. I have to say that I’m not sure quite what I was expecting from the book, but it certainly wasn’t that!
Now I don’t mean this in a bad way, not at all, but if readers have come to this book expecting a Rizzoli and Isles-esque mystery, then they may well find themselves surprised. There is a mystery at the heart of this novel, well more than one really. In fact I’d say it’s equal parts thriller, mystery, chiller and romantic suspense novel. It is not your typical cops and robbers type affair, and it’s probably not a book for the faint of heart or prudish of nature either.
This is the story of Ava, a food/cookery writer who has taken the opportunity to escape the rat race and head to the remote town of Tucker Cove in order to finish writing her long overdue book. What she finds when she arrives at Tucker Cove, or more importantly her new home Brodies Watch, is far beyond her expectations, not only because of the complete isolation of the grand old house, but because the house masks a history that is very difficult to put into words, at least ones that won’t constitute a spoiler.
The story is told from Ava’s point of view and from the very opening chapter we are privy to the effect that Brodies Watch has upon her. The way in which the author has set the scene is brilliantly effective, sending chills down your spine and putting me in mind of novels such as Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House. There is just that feeling of the house being more than simply board, bricks and mortar – that it is a living breathing presence in its own right, and this is a feeling that only grows stronger as the time passes.
It is safe to say that Ava makes for a less than reliable narrator, and not just because she likes the odd tipple or two before bedtime. It wouldn’t be fair to dismiss every woman who likes to get merry on the sherry, but added to the varying levels of sobriety is the clear indication that there is something terrible has happened in Ava’s past, something she is hiding from, and something which leads you as a reader to trust the veracity of her narrative despite your common sense telling you otherwise.
Why did I doubt Ava’s account of what was happening so much? Well … that is the crux of the story and one which potentially dips into spoiler territory. Ava develops somewhat of a fascination with one of Brodies Watch’s former residents – scrap that – two of the former residents, the main one being Captain Jeremiah Brodie. We get to know quite a bit about Brodie throughout the novel, for varying reasons, most of them being the reason I say that the prudish may wish to look away. He is something of a cross between Sam Wheat and Christian Grey, and if you don’t know who they are then go and ask Google. He offers Ava a way out of her misery, her inner turmoil, in ways that would make your Granny blush, unless you have a very liberal and open minded Granny of course. There is a reason many of the former residents of Brodies Watch didn’t want to leave … So why did the last resident flee so quickly? Cue Ava’s second obsession.
The use of imagery and language in the novel is top notch. Tess Gerritsen really puts us at the heart of Tucker Cove, creates that overwhelming small town feeling, and throws in a myriad of interesting and diverse characters who all felt authentic. The sense of place is overwhelming, the isolation of Brodies Watch will play upon your mind until you start hearing strange noises in your own home. In my case, it could well have been the cats having a mad half hour, but you never know.
When it comes to the mystery at the centre of the story, and Ava’s other obsession, the book takes quite a dark and sinister turn, with so many suspects, so many potential motives, that your head will be in a spin trying to make sense of them. But the real question for readers is could the truth be more spectral than physical? You’ll need to read the book to find out.
Being totally honest, I had worked out the ending long before it was revealed to me as a reader, but I had such fun reading this novel, something very unlike what I expected, that I didn’t care and wanted to take the journey with Ava and Brodie right to the last page. I think this would make a great book club read as there is so much to talk about that happens in those pages. This really is a story of passion, obsession and regrets and one I enjoyed far more than I thought I would, for potentially all the wrong reasons. (Team #50ShadesofCasper – you know why).
About the Author
Bestselling author Tess Gerritsen is also a physician, and she brings to her novels her first-hand knowledge of emergency and autopsy rooms. Her thrillers starring homicide detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles inspired the hit TV series Rizzoli & Isles. But Tess’s interests span far more than medicine and crime. As an anthropology student at Stanford University, she catalogued centuries-old human remains, and she continues to travel the world, driven by her fascination with ancient cultures and bizarre natural phenomena. Tess has sold over 40 million copies of her books worldwide.
Follow the Tour: