The Sinner (Rizzoli and Isles Series #3) [NOOK Book]

Overview

BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from Tess Gerritsen's The Silent Girl.

Not even the icy temperatures of a typical New England winter can match the bone-chilling scene of carnage discovered at the chapel of Our Lady of Divine Light. Within the cloistered convent lie two nuns–one dead, one critically injured–victims of an unspeakably savage attacker. The brutal crime appears to be without motive, but medical examiner Maura Isles’s ...
See more details below
The Sinner (Rizzoli and Isles Series #3)

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK Study
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$7.99
BN.com price

Overview

BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from Tess Gerritsen's The Silent Girl.

Not even the icy temperatures of a typical New England winter can match the bone-chilling scene of carnage discovered at the chapel of Our Lady of Divine Light. Within the cloistered convent lie two nuns–one dead, one critically injured–victims of an unspeakably savage attacker. The brutal crime appears to be without motive, but medical examiner Maura Isles’s autopsy of the dead woman yields a shocking surprise: Twenty-year-old Sister Camille gave birth before she was murdered. Then another body is found, mutilated beyond recognition. Together, Isles and homicide detective Jane Rizzoli uncover an ancient horror that connects these terrible slaughters. As long-buried secrets come to light, Maura Isles finds herself drawn inexorably toward the heart of an investigation that strikes close to home–and toward a dawning revelation about the killer’s identity too shattering to consider.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A grisly murder at a convent baffles Medical Examiner Maura Isles and Det. Jane Rizzoli at the start of this assured, richly shaded seventh novel from bestseller Gerritsen (The Apprentice; The Surgeon, etc.). The popular duo are called to Boston's Graystones Abbey when two nuns are discovered in an abandoned chapel, one dead and the other near death, both brutally bludgeoned. Red herrings are everywhere: Isles's discovery that one of the murdered nuns had recently given birth (followed shortly by the discovery of the baby's body in a pond near the convent); the murder of a homeless derelict with her face and extremities removed by her killer; and the lurking menace of a multinational chemical company. Complicating matters further is the sudden arrival of Isles's ex-husband, Victor, a celebrity humanitarian with his own suspicious connection to the case, and Rizzoli's old flame, FBI agent Gabriel Dean, who's responsible for the baby now growing in Rizzoli's belly. The investigation is rather low-key, but Gerritsen gives atmospheric depth to her tale with descriptions of snowbound Boston and an exotic past tragedy. Isles's pleasantly bitchy coldness ("Go ahead and pass me, idiots. I've met too many drivers like you on my slab") gives a welcome edge to the proceedings, and the struggles of both Isles and Rizzoli to balance their tough professional acts with romantic drama are satisfyingly gritty. BOMC main selection; 6-city author tour. (Aug. 19) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Internist-turned-author Gerritsen returns with her sixth medical thriller (after The Apprentice), bringing back Boston detective Jane Rizzoli. This time out the victims are two nuns-young (and recently pregnant) Sister Camille, beaten to death in the chapel, and elderly Sister Ursula, who is left clinging to life nearby. Medical examiner Maura Isles is brought in to investigate, and she and Rizzoli team up against a case of seemingly biblical proportions, which includes Camille's mysterious pregnancy, leper colonies in India, and unexplained plagues. All of this mayhem swirls around a backdrop of Maura's problems with her charismatic ex-husband and Rizzoli's unexpected pregnancy, which make for a stew that doesn't quite cook and that is spiced with some turgid metaphors: "like a black hole, [the murder scene] sucks into its vortex the rapt attention of the living, who cannot turn away, cannot resist a glimpse into hell." But the plot moves quickly, and there's enough suspense here to warrant a slot on the beach reading list, perhaps along with something by Alex Quaver. Recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 4/1/03.]-Rebecca House Stankowski, Purdue Univ. Calumet Lib., Hammond, IN Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
All her pages suffused purple from lividity, Doc Gerritsen's morgue slab awaits you, reader. Brilliantly, Gerritsen (The Apprentice, 2002, etc.) has her regular Boston Homicide Detective Jane Rizzoli play second lead to Medical Examiner Maura Isles, known as the Queen of the Dead, who autopsies all of Jane's vics and supplies more deliciously grisly pages this time than in Gerritsen's last two outings combined. While Rizzoli handles the crimes, Dr. Isles delivers arias on death and the sweet hell of human existence. And as much of this plays out against the frozen stones of Graystones Abbey-a nunnery where a youthful nun lies battered to death and an aged nun, also battered, is dying-as under Isles's examining scalpel and X-ray photos of crushed skulls and bullet fragments scattered about a vic's sternum. But Isles and Rizzoli are enmeshed and struggling as well with richly detailed love lives that have the reader suffering right along with the two leads, with Isles panting after her world-hopping divorced saint of a doctor-husband and Rizzoli fighting her lust for the FBI agent she bedded in The Apprentice-something she must pay for now. Autopsy reveals that the dead young nun had just given birth (no one knew she was pregnant) before being murdered in the midnight chapel. Where's the baby? Another murder pops up in a deserted Italian restaurant: a woman with her hands and feet removed and her face stripped off. Why her feet? Or her face? Now, that's enough. "A place of death has a power all its own. Long after the body is removed and the blood scrubbed away, such a place still retains the memory of what has happened there. It holds echoes of screams, the lingering scent of fear. Andlike a black hole, it sucks into its vortex the rapt attention of the living, who cannot turn away, cannot resist a glimpse into hell." Glorious deaths bursting with the guilty glow of sex. Author tour
From the Publisher
“[Gerritsen] has an imagination that allows her to conjure up depths of human behavior so dark and frightening that she makes Edgar Allan Poe and H. P. Lovecraft seem like goody-two-shoes.”—Chicago Tribune

“Satisfying . . . The Sinner is as busy and bumpy as a storm-filled sky.”—Entertainment Weekly (Editor’s Choice)

“A suspenseful, white-knuckle tale all the way to the end . . . Gerritsen is not only talented with words, she has unusual medical and scientific expertise, which gives all her books a precious credibility. . . . It’s not only a terrific story, it provokes thought about a lot of other issues of international import. And it’s real, without special effects, a story that emanates from the real life around us.”—Deseret News (Salt Lake City, UT)

“Gerritsen’s weaving of unusual crime scenes, complicated investigations, lurid medical details, and moments of visceral fear is truly unique. . . . [The Sinner] will keep the reader quickly turning pages. . . . Into these terrors forges Maura Isles, Queen of the Dead, and riveted, we readers follow her.”
Sun Journal (Lewiston, ME)

“Dark emotions and dangerous secrets permeate this unusually chilling novel. . . . Another gut-wrenching tale from a true master.”—Romantic Times (Top Pick)

“Gerritsen just keeps getting better with each book. . . . [The Sinner] moves at a heart pounding pace without a word wasted.”—Drood Review of Mystery

“Assured, richly shaded.”—Publishers Weekly

“Another captivating, horrific thriller in her extremely popular canon.”—Booklist

“Well-executed and entertaining.”—News Tribune (Tacoma, WA)

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345464453
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/19/2003
  • Series: Rizzoli and Isles Series , #3
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 8,079
  • File size: 520 KB

Meet the Author

Tess Gerritsen
Tess Gerritsen left a successful practice as an internist to raise her children and concentrate on her writing. She gained nationwide acclaim for her first novel of medical suspense, the New York Times bestseller Harvest. She is also the author of the bestsellers Life Support, Bloodstream, Gravity, and The Surgeon and The Apprentice. Tess Gerritsen lives in Maine.

From the Hardcover edition.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt


One


They called her the Queen of the Dead.

Though no one ever said it to her face, Dr. Maura Isles sometimes heard the nickname murmured in her wake as she traveled the grim triangle of her job between courtroom and death scene and morgue. Sometimes she would detect a note of dark sarcasm: Ha ha, there she goes, our Goth goddess, out to collect fresh subjects. Sometimes the whispers held a tremolo of disquiet, like the murmurs of the pious as an unholy stranger passes among them. It was the disquiet of those who could not understand why she chose to walk in Death’s footsteps. Does she enjoy it, they wonder? Does the touch of cold flesh, the stench of decay, hold such allure for her that she has turned her back on the living? They think this cannot be normal, and they cast uneasy glances her way, noting details that only reinforce their beliefs that she is an odd duck. The ivory skin, the black hair with its blunt Cleopatra cut. The red slash of lipstick. Who else wears lipstick to a death scene? Most of all, it’s her calmness that disturbs them, her coolly regal gaze as she surveys the horrors that they themselves can barely stomach. Unlike them, she does not avert her gaze. Instead she bends close and stares, touches. She sniffs.

And later, under bright lights in her autopsy lab, she cuts.

She was cutting now, her scalpel slicing through chilled skin, through subcutaneous fat that gleamed a greasy yellow. A man who liked his hamburgers and fries, she thought as she used pruning shears to cut through the ribs and lifted the triangular shield of breastbone the way one opens a cupboard door, to reveal its treasured contents.

The heart lay cradled in its spongey bed of lungs. For fifty-nine years, it had pumped blood through the body of Mr. Samuel Knight. It had grown with him, aged with him, transforming, as he had, from the lean muscle of youth to this well-larded flesh. All pumps eventually fail, and so had Mr. Knight’s as he’d sat in his Boston hotel room with the TV turned on and a glass of whiskey from the minibar sitting beside him on the nightstand.

She did not pause to wonder what his final thoughts might have been, or whether he had felt pain or fear. Though she explored his most intimate recesses, though she flayed open his skin and held his heart in her hands, Mr. Samuel Knight remained a stranger to her, a silent and undemanding one, willingly offering up his secrets. The dead are patient. They do not complain, nor threaten, nor cajole.

The dead do not hurt you; only the living do.

She worked with serene efficiency, resecting the thoracic viscera, laying the freed heart on the cutting board. Outside, the first snow of December swirled, white flakes whispering against windows and slithering down alleys. But here in the lab, the only sounds were of running water and the hiss of the ventilator fan. Her assistant Yoshima moved in uncanny silence, anticipating her requests, materializing wherever she needed him. They had worked together only a year and a half, yet already they functioned like a single organism, linked by the telepathy of two logical minds. She did not need to ask him to redirect the lamp; it was already done, the light shining down on the dripping heart, a pair of scissors held out and waiting for her to take them.

The darkly mottled wall of the right ventricle, and the white apical scar, told her this heart’s sad story. An old myocardial infarction, months or even years old, had already destroyed part of the left ventricular wall. Then, sometime in the last twenty-four hours, a fresh infarction had occurred. A thrombus had blocked off the right coronary artery, strangling the flow of blood to the muscle of the right ventricle.

She resected tissue for histology, already knowing what she would see under the microscope. Coagulation and necrosis. The invasion of white cells, moving in like a defending army. Perhaps Mr. Samuel Knight thought the discomfort in his chest was just a bout of indigestion. Too much lunch, shouldn’t have eaten all those onions. Maybe Pepto-Bismol would do the trick. Or perhaps there’d been more ominous signs which he chose to ignore: the weight on his chest, the shortness of breath. Surely it did not occur to him that he was having a heart attack.

That, a day later, he would be dead of an arrhythmia.

The heart now lay open and sectioned on the board. She looked at the torso, missing all its organs. So ends your business trip to Boston, she thought. No surprises here. No foul play, except for the abuse you heaped on your own body, Mr. Knight.

The intercom buzzed. “Dr. Isles?” It was Louise, her secretary.

“Yes?”

“Detective Rizzoli’s on line two for you. Can you take the call?”

“I’ll pick up.”

Maura peeled off her gloves and crossed to the wall phone. Yoshima, who’d been rinsing instruments in the sink, shut off the faucet. He turned to watch her with his silent tiger eyes, already knowing what a call from Rizzoli signified.

When at last Maura hung up, she saw the question in his gaze.

“It’s starting early today,” she said. Then she stripped off her gown and left the morgue, to usher another subject into her realm.

The morning’s snowfall had turned into a treacherous mix of both snow and sleet, and the city plows were nowhere in sight. She drove cautiously along Jamaica Riverway, tires swishing through deep slush, windshield wipers scraping at hoar-frosted glass. This was the first winter storm of the season, and drivers had yet to adjust to the conditions. Already, several casualties had slid off the road, and she passed a parked police cruiser, its lights flashing, the patrolman standing beside a tow truck driver as they both gazed at a car that had tipped into a ditch.

The tires of her Lexus began to slide sideways, the front bumper veering toward oncoming traffic. Panicking, she hit the brakes and felt the vehicle’s automatic skid control kick into action. She pulled the car back into her lane. Screw this, she thought, her heart thudding. I’m moving back to California. She slowed to a timid crawl, not caring who honked at her or how much traffic she held up. Go ahead and pass me, idiots. I’ve met too many drivers like you on my slab.

The road took her into Jamaica Plain, a west Boston neighborhood of stately old mansions and broad lawns, of serene parks and river walks. In the summertime, this would be a leafy retreat from the noise and heat of urban Boston, but today, under bleak skies, with winds sweeping across barren lawns, it was a desolate neighborhood.

The address she sought seemed the most forbidding of all, the building set back behind a high stone wall over which a smothering tangle of ivy had scrambled. A barricade to keep out the world, she thought. From the street, all she could see were the gothic peaks of a slate roof and one towering gable window which peered back at her like a dark eye. A patrol car parked near the front gate confirmed that she had found the correct address. Only a few other vehicles had arrived so far—the shock troops before the larger army of crime-scene techs arrived.

She parked across the street and braced herself against the first blast of wind. When she stepped out of the car, her shoe skidded right out from under her, and she barely caught herself, hanging onto the vehicle door. Dragging herself back to her feet, she felt icy water trickle down her calves from the soaked hem of her coat, which had fallen into the slush. For a few seconds she just stood there, sleet stinging her face, shocked by how quickly it had all happened.

She glanced across the street at the patrolman sitting in his cruiser, and saw that he was watching her, and had surely seen her slip. Her pride stung, she grabbed her kit from the front seat, swung the door shut, and made her way, with as much dignity as she could muster, across the rime-slicked road.

“You okay, Doc?” the patrolman called out through his car window, a concerned inquiry she really did not welcome.

“I’m fine.”

“Watch yourself in those shoes. It’s even more slippery in the courtyard.”

“Where’s Detective Rizzoli?”

“They’re in the chapel.”

“And where’s that?”

“Can’t miss it. It’s the door with the big cross on it.”

She continued to the front gate, but found it locked. An iron bell hung on the wall; she tugged on the pull rope, and the medieval clang slowly faded into the softer tick, tick of falling sleet. Just beneath the bell was a bronze plaque, its inscription partially obscured by a strand of brown ivy.

Graystones Abbey The Sisters of Our Lady of Divine Light

“The harvest is indeed great, but the laborers are few.

Pray, therefore, to send laborers

Into the harvest.”

On the other side of the gate, a woman swathed in black suddenly appeared, her approach so silent that Maura gave a start when she saw the face staring at her through the bars. It was an ancient face, so deeply lined it seemed to be collapsing in on itself, but the eyes were bright and sharp as a bird’s. The nun did not speak, posing her question with only her gaze.

“I’m Dr. Isles from the Medical Examiner’s office,” said Maura. “The police called me here.”

The gate squealed open.

Maura stepped into the courtyard. “I’m looking for Detective Rizzoli. I believe she’s in the chapel.”

The nun pointed directly across the courtyard. Then she turned and shuffled slowly into the nearest doorway, abandoning Maura to make her own way to the chapel.

Snowflakes whirled and danced amid needles of sleet, like white butterflies circling their lead-footed cousins. The most direct route was to cross the courtyard, but the stones were glazed with ice, and Maura’s shoes, with their gripless soles, had already proven no match for such a surface. She ducked instead beneath the narrow covered walkway that ran along the courtyard’s perimeter. Though protected from the sleet, she found little shelter here from the wind, which sliced through her coat. She was shocked by the cold, reminded yet again of how cruel December in Boston could be. For most of her life, she had lived in San Francisco, where a glimpse of snowflakes was a rare delight, not a torment, like these stinging nettles that swirled under the overhang to nip her face. She veered closer to the building and hugged her coat tighter as she passed darkened windows. From beyond the gate came the faint swish of traffic on Jamaica Riverway. But here, within these walls, she heard only silence. Except for the elderly nun who had admitted her, the compound seemed abandoned.

So it was a shock when she saw three faces staring at her from one of the windows. The nuns stood in a silent tableau, like dark-robed ghosts behind glass, watching the intruder make her way deeper into their sanctuary. Their gazes swerved in unison, following her as she moved past.

The entrance to the chapel was draped with a strand of yellow crime scene tape, which had sagged in the doorway and hung crusted with sleet. She lifted the tape to step beneath it and pushed open the door.

A camera flash exploded in her eyes and she froze, the door slowly hissing shut behind her, blinking away the afterimage that had seared her retinas. As her vision cleared, she saw rows of wooden pews, whitewashed walls, and at the front of the chapel, an enormous crucifix hanging above the altar. It was a coldly austere room, its gloom deepened by the stained glass windows, which admitted only a murky smear of light.

“Hold it right there. Be careful where you step,” said the photographer.

Maura looked down at the stone floor and saw blood. And footprints—a confusing jumble of them, along with medical debris. Syringe caps and torn wrappings. The leavings of an ambulance crew. But no body.

Her gaze moved in a wider circle, taking in the piece of trampled white cloth lying in the aisle, the splashes of red on the pews. She could see her own breath in this frigid room, and the temperature seemed to drop even colder, her chill deepening as she read the bloodstains, saw the successive splashes moving up the rows of benches, and understood what had happened here.

The photographer began to click off more shots, each one a visual assault on Maura’s eyes.

“Hey Doc?” At the front of the chapel, a mop of dark hair popped up as Detective Jane Rizzoli rose to her feet and waved. “The vic’s up here.”

“What about this blood here, by the door?”

“That’s from the other victim, Sister Ursula. Med-Q boys took her to St. Francis. There’s more blood along that center aisle, and some footprints we’re trying to preserve, so you’d better circle around to your left. Stick close to the wall.”

Maura paused to pull on paper shoe-covers, then edged along the perimeter of the room, hugging the wall. Only as she cleared the front row of pews did she see the nun’s body, lying faceup, the fabric of her habit a black pool blending into a larger lake of red. Both hands had already been bagged to preserve evidence. The victim’s youth took Maura by surprise. The nun who had let her in the gate, and those she had seen through the window, had all been elderly. This woman was far younger. It was an ethereal face, her pale blue eyes frozen in a look of eerie serenity. Her head was bare, the blond hair shorn to barely an inch long. Every terrible blow was recorded in the torn scalp, the misshapen crown.

“Her name’s Camille Maginnes. Sister Camille. Hometown, Hyannisport,” said Rizzoli, sounding Dragnet-cool and businesslike. “She was the first novice they’ve had here in fifteen years. Planned to take her final vows in May.” She paused, then added: “She was only twenty,” and her anger cracked through the facade.

“She’s so young.”

“Yeah. Looks like he beat the shit out of her.”

Maura pulled on gloves and crouched down to study the destruction. The death instrument had left raggedly linear lacerations on the scalp. Fragments of bone protruded through torn skin, and a clump of gray matter had oozed out. Though the facial skin was largely intact, it was suffused a dark purple.

“She died facedown. Who turned her onto her back?”

“The sisters who found her,” said Rizzoli. “They were looking for a pulse.”

“What time were the victims discovered?”

“About eight this morning.” Rizzoli glanced at her watch. “Nearly two hours ago.”

“Do you know what happened? What did the sisters tell you?”

“It’s been hard getting anything useful out of them. There are only fourteen nuns left now, and they’re all in a state of shock. Here they think they’re safe. Protected by God. And then some lunatic breaks in.”

“There are signs of forced entry?”

“No, but it wouldn’t be all that hard to get into the compound. There’s ivy growing all over the walls—you could hop right over without too much trouble. And there’s also a back gate, leading to a field, where they have their gardens. A perp could get in that way, too.”

“Footprints?”

“A few in here. But outside, they’d be pretty much buried under snow.”

“So we don’t know that he actually broke in. He could have been admitted through that front gate.”

“It’s a cloistered order, Doc. No one’s allowed inside the gates except for the parish priest, when he comes in to say Mass and hear confession. And there’s also a lady who works in the rectory. They let her bring her little girl when she can’t get child care. But that’s it. No one else comes in without the Abbess’s approval. And the sisters stay inside. They leave only for doctors’ appointments and family emergencies.”

“Who have you spoken to so far?”

“The Abbess, Mother Mary Clement. And the two nuns who found the victims.”

“What did they tell you?”

Rizzoli shook her head. “Saw nothing, heard nothing. I don’t think the others will be able to tell us much, either.”

“Why not?”

“Have you seen how old they are?”

“It doesn’t mean they don’t have their wits about them.”

“One of them’s gorked out by a stroke and two of them have Alzheimer’s. Most of them sleep in rooms facing away from the courtyard, so they wouldn’t have seen a thing.”

At first Maura simply crouched over Camille’s body, not touching it. Granting the victim a last moment of dignity. Nothing can hurt you now, she thought. She began to palpate the scalp, and felt the crunch of shifting bone fragments beneath the skin. “Multiple blows. All of them landed on the crown or the back of the skull. . . .”

“And the facial bruising? Is that just lividity?”

“Yes. And it’s fixed.”

“So the blows came from behind. And above.”

“The attacker was probably taller.”

“Or she was down on her knees. And he was standing over her.”

Maura paused, hands touching cool flesh, arrested by the heartbreaking image of this young nun, kneeling before her attacker, blows raining down on her bowed head.

“What kind of bastard goes around beating up nuns?” said Rizzoli. “What the fuck is wrong with this world?”

Maura winced at Rizzoli’s choice of words. Though she couldn’t remember the last time she’d set foot in a church, and had ceased believing years ago, to hear such profanity in a sanctified place disturbed her. Such was the power of childhood indoctrination. Even she, for whom saints and miracles were now merely fantasies, would never utter a curse in full view of the cross.

But Rizzoli was too angry to care what words came tumbling out of her mouth, even in this sacred place. Her hair was more disheveled than usual, a wild, black mane glistening with melted sleet. The bones of her face jutted out in sharp angles beneath pale skin. In the gloom of the chapel, her eyes were bright coals, lit with rage. Righteous anger had always been Jane Rizzoli’s fuel, the essence of what drove her to hunt monsters. Today, though, she seemed feverish with it, and her face was thinner, as though the fire was now consuming her from within.

Maura did not want to feed those flames. She kept her voice dispassionate, her questions businesslike. A scientist dealing in facts, not emotions.

She reached for Sister Camille’s arm and tested the elbow joint. “It’s flaccid. No rigor mortis.”

“Less than five, six hours then?”

“It’s also cold in here.”

Rizzoli gave a snort, exhaling a puff of vapor in the frigid air. “No kidding.”

“Just above freezing, I’d guess. Rigor mortis would be delayed.”

“How long?”

“Almost indefinitely.”

“What about her face? The fixed bruising?”

“Livor mortis could have happened within half an hour. It doesn’t help us all that much with time of death.”

Maura opened her kit and set out the chemical thermometer to measure ambient temperature. She eyed the victim’s many layers of clothing and decided not to take a rectal temperature until after the body had been transported to the morgue. The room was poorly lit—not a place in which she could adequately rule out sexual assault prior to the insertion of the thermometer. Wrestling off clothes might also dislodge trace evidence. Instead she took out syringes to withdraw vitreous fluid for postmortem potassium levels. It would give her one estimate for time of death.

“Tell me about the other victim,” Maura said as she pierced the left eye and slowly withdrew vitreous fluid into the syringe.

Rizzoli gave a groan of disgust at the procedure and turned away. “The vic found by the door was Sister Ursula Rowland, sixty-eight years old. Must be a tough old bird. They said she was moving her arms when they loaded her into the ambulance. Frost and I got here just as they were driving away.”

“How badly injured was she?”

“I didn’t see her. Latest report we got from St. Francis Hospital is that she’s in surgery. Multiple skull fractures and bleeding into the brain.”

“Like this victim.”

“Yeah. Like Camille.” The anger was back in Rizzoli’s voice.

Maura rose to her feet and stood shivering. Her trousers had wicked freezing water from the soaked hem of her coat, and her calves felt encased in ice. She had been told on the phone that the death scene was indoors, so she had not brought her scarf or wool gloves from the car. This unheated room was scarcely warmer than the sleet-swept courtyard outside. She shoved her hands into her coat pockets, and wondered how Rizzoli, who was also without warm gloves and scarf, could linger so long in this frigid chapel. Rizzoli seemed to carry her own heat source within her, the fever of her outrage, and although her lips were turning blue, she did not seem in a hurry to seek a warmer room anytime soon.

“Why is it so cold in here?” asked Maura. “I can’t imagine they’d want to hold Mass in this room.”

“They don’t. This part of the building’s never used in winter—it’s too expensive to heat. There are so few of them still living here, anyway. For Mass, they use a small chapel off the rectory.”

Maura thought of the three nuns she’d seen through the window, all of them elderly. These sisters were dying flames, flickering out one by one.

“If this chapel’s not used,” she said, “what were the victims doing in here?”

Rizzoli gave a sigh, exhaling a dragon’s breath of vapor. “No one knows. The Abbess says the last time she saw Ursula and Camille was at prayers last night, around nine. When they didn’t appear at morning prayers, the sisters went looking for them. They never expected to find them in here.”

“All these blows to the head. It looks like sheer rage.”

“But look at her face,” said Rizzoli, pointing to Camille. “He didn’t hit her face. He spared her face. That makes it seem a lot less personal. As if he’s not swinging at her specifically, but at what she is. What she stands for.”

“Authority?” said Maura. “Power?”

“Funny. I would have said something along the lines of faith, hope, and charity.”

“Well, I went to a Catholic high school.”

“You?” Rizzoli gave a snort. “Never would’ve guessed.”

Maura took a deep breath of chilly air and looked up at the cross, remembering her years at Holy Innocents Academy. And the special torments meted out by Sister Magdalene, who had taught history. The torment had not been physical but emotional, dispensed by a woman who was quick to identify which girls had, in her opinion, an unseemly excess of confidence. At the age of fourteen, Maura’s best friends had not been people, but books. She’d easily mastered all her classwork, and had been proud of it, too. That was what had brought Sister Magdalene’s wrath down upon her shoulders. For Maura’s own good, that unholy pride in her own intellect needed to be beaten into humility. Sister Magdalene went about the task with vicious gusto. She had held Maura up to ridicule in class, had written cutting comments in the margins of her immaculate papers, and sighed loudly whenever Maura raised her hand to ask a question. In the end, Maura had been reduced to conquered silence.

“They used to intimidate me,” said Maura. “The nuns.”

“I didn’t think anything scared you, Doc.”

“Lots of things scare me.”

Rizzoli laughed. “Just not dead bodies, huh?”

“There are far scarier things in this world than dead bodies.”

They left the body of Camille lying on her bed of cold stone and moved back around the room’s perimeter, toward the bloodstained floor where Ursula had been found, still alive. The photographer had completed his work and departed; only Maura and Rizzoli remained in the chapel, two lone women, their voices echoing off stark walls. Maura had always thought of chapels as universal sanctuaries, where even the spirit of the unbeliever might be comforted. But she found no comfort in this bleak place, where Death had walked, contemptuous of holy symbols.

“They found Sister Ursula right here,” said Rizzoli. “She was lying with her head pointed toward the altar, her feet toward the door.”

As though prostrating herself before the crucifix.

“This guy’s a fucking animal,” said Rizzoli, the angry words clipped off like shards of ice. “That’s what we’re dealing with. Out of his mind. Or some coked-up asshole looking for something to steal.”

“We don’t know it’s a man.”

Rizzoli waved toward the body of Sister Camille. “You think a woman did that?”

“A woman can swing a hammer. Crush a skull.”

“We found a footprint. There, halfway up the aisle. Looked to me like a man’s size twelve.”

“One of the ambulance crew?”

“No, you can see the Med-Q team’s footprints here, near the door. That one in the aisle’s different. That one’s his.”

The wind blew, rattling the windows, and the door creaked as though invisible hands were tugging at it, desperate to get in. Rizzoli’s lips had chilled to blue, and her face had taken on a corpselike pallor, but she showed no intention of seeking a warmer room. That was Rizzoli, too stubborn to be the first to capitulate. To admit she had reached her limit.

Maura looked down at the stone floor where Sister Ursula had been lying, and she could not disagree with Rizzoli’s instincts, that this attack was an act of insanity. This was madness she saw here, in these bloodstains. In the blows slammed into Sister Camille’s skull. Either madness, or evil.

An icy draft seemed to blow straight up her spine. She straightened, shivering, and her gaze fixed on the crucifix. “I’m freezing,” she said. “Can we get warm somewhere? Get a cup of coffee?”

“Are you finished here?”

“I’ve seen what I need to. The autopsy will tell us the rest.”

From the Hardcover edition.

Read More Show Less

First Chapter


One


They called her the Queen of the Dead.

Though no one ever said it to her face, Dr. Maura Isles sometimes heard the nickname murmured in her wake as she traveled the grim triangle of her job between courtroom and death scene and morgue. Sometimes she would detect a note of dark sarcasm: Ha ha, there she goes, our Goth goddess, out to collect fresh subjects. Sometimes the whispers held a tremolo of disquiet, like the murmurs of the pious as an unholy stranger passes among them. It was the disquiet of those who could not understand why she chose to walk in Death's footsteps. Does she enjoy it, they wonder? Does the touch of cold flesh, the stench of decay, hold such allure for her that she has turned her back on the living? They think this cannot be normal, and they cast uneasy glances her way, noting details that only reinforce their beliefs that she is an odd duck. The ivory skin, the black hair with its blunt Cleopatra cut. The red slash of lipstick. Who else wears lipstick to a death scene? Most of all, it's her calmness that disturbs them, her coolly regal gaze as she surveys the horrors that they themselves can barely stomach. Unlike them, she does not avert her gaze. Instead she bends close and stares, touches. She sniffs.

And later, under bright lights in her autopsy lab, she cuts.

She was cutting now, her scalpel slicing through chilled skin, through subcutaneous fat that gleamed a greasy yellow. A man who liked his hamburgers and fries, she thought as she used pruning shears to cut through the ribs and lifted the triangular shield of breastbone the way one opens a cupboard door, to reveal its treasured contents.

The heart laycradled in its spongey bed of lungs. For fifty-nine years, it had pumped blood through the body of Mr. Samuel Knight. It had grown with him, aged with him, transforming, as he had, from the lean muscle of youth to this well-larded flesh. All pumps eventually fail, and so had Mr. Knight's as he'd sat in his Boston hotel room with the TV turned on and a glass of whiskey from the minibar sitting beside him on the nightstand.

She did not pause to wonder what his final thoughts might have been, or whether he had felt pain or fear. Though she explored his most intimate recesses, though she flayed open his skin and held his heart in her hands, Mr. Samuel Knight remained a stranger to her, a silent and undemanding one, willingly offering up his secrets. The dead are patient. They do not complain, nor threaten, nor cajole.

The dead do not hurt you; only the living do.

She worked with serene efficiency, resecting the thoracic viscera, laying the freed heart on the cutting board. Outside, the first snow of December swirled, white flakes whispering against windows and slithering down alleys. But here in the lab, the only sounds were of running water and the hiss of the ventilator fan. Her assistant Yoshima moved in uncanny silence, anticipating her requests, materializing wherever she needed him. They had worked together only a year and a half, yet already they functioned like a single organism, linked by the telepathy of two logical minds. She did not need to ask him to redirect the lamp; it was already done, the light shining down on the dripping heart, a pair of scissors held out and waiting for her to take them.

The darkly mottled wall of the right ventricle, and the white apical scar, told her this heart's sad story. An old myocardial infarction, months or even years old, had already destroyed part of the left ventricular wall. Then, sometime in the last twenty-four hours, a fresh infarction had occurred. A thrombus had blocked off the right coronary artery, strangling the flow of blood to the muscle of the right ventricle.

She resected tissue for histology, already knowing what she would see under the microscope. Coagulation and necrosis. The invasion of white cells, moving in like a defending army. Perhaps Mr. Samuel Knight thought the discomfort in his chest was just a bout of indigestion. Too much lunch, shouldn't have eaten all those onions. Maybe Pepto-Bismol would do the trick. Or perhaps there'd been more ominous signs which he chose to ignore: the weight on his chest, the shortness of breath. Surely it did not occur to him that he was having a heart attack.

That, a day later, he would be dead of an arrhythmia.

The heart now lay open and sectioned on the board. She looked at the torso, missing all its organs. So ends your business trip to Boston, she thought. No surprises here. No foul play, except for the abuse you heaped on your own body, Mr. Knight.

The intercom buzzed. "Dr. Isles?" It was Louise, her secretary.

"Yes?"

"Detective Rizzoli's on line two for you. Can you take the call?"

"I'll pick up."

Maura peeled off her gloves and crossed to the wall phone. Yoshima, who'd been rinsing instruments in the sink, shut off the faucet. He turned to watch her with his silent tiger eyes, already knowing what a call from Rizzoli signified.

When at last Maura hung up, she saw the question in his gaze.

"It's starting early today," she said. Then she stripped off her gown and left the morgue, to usher another subject into her realm.





The morning's snowfall had turned into a treacherous mix of both snow and sleet, and the city plows were nowhere in sight. She drove cautiously along Jamaica Riverway, tires swishing through deep slush, windshield wipers scraping at hoar-frosted glass. This was the first winter storm of the season, and drivers had yet to adjust to the conditions. Already, several casualties had slid off the road, and she passed a parked police cruiser, its lights flashing, the patrolman standing beside a tow truck driver as they both gazed at a car that had tipped into a ditch.

The tires of her Lexus began to slide sideways, the front bumper veering toward oncoming traffic. Panicking, she hit the brakes and felt the vehicle's automatic skid control kick into action. She pulled the car back into her lane. Screw this, she thought, her heart thudding. I'm moving back to California. She slowed to a timid crawl, not caring who honked at her or how much traffic she held up. Go ahead and pass me, idiots. I've met too many drivers like you on my slab.

The road took her into Jamaica Plain, a west Boston neighborhood of stately old mansions and broad lawns, of serene parks and river walks. In the summertime, this would be a leafy retreat from the noise and heat of urban Boston, but today, under bleak skies, with winds sweeping across barren lawns, it was a desolate neighborhood.

The address she sought seemed the most forbidding of all, the building set back behind a high stone wall over which a smothering tangle of ivy had scrambled. A barricade to keep out the world, she thought. From the street, all she could see were the gothic peaks of a slate roof and one towering gable window which peered back at her like a dark eye. A patrol car parked near the front gate confirmed that she had found the correct address. Only a few other vehicles had arrived so far—the shock troops before the larger army of crime-scene techs arrived.

She parked across the street and braced herself against the first blast of wind. When she stepped out of the car, her shoe skidded right out from under her, and she barely caught herself, hanging onto the vehicle door. Dragging herself back to her feet, she felt icy water trickle down her calves from the soaked hem of her coat, which had fallen into the slush. For a few seconds she just stood there, sleet stinging her face, shocked by how quickly it had all happened.

She glanced across the street at the patrolman sitting in his cruiser, and saw that he was watching her, and had surely seen her slip. Her pride stung, she grabbed her kit from the front seat, swung the door shut, and made her way, with as much dignity as she could muster, across the rime-slicked road.

"You okay, Doc?" the patrolman called out through his car window, a concerned inquiry she really did not welcome.

"I'm fine."

"Watch yourself in those shoes. It's even more slippery in the courtyard."

"Where's Detective Rizzoli?"

"They're in the chapel."

"And where's that?"

"Can't miss it. It's the door with the big cross on it."

She continued to the front gate, but found it locked. An iron bell hung on the wall; she tugged on the pull rope, and the medieval clang slowly faded into the softer tick, tick of falling sleet. Just beneath the bell was a bronze plaque, its inscription partially obscured by a strand of brown ivy.

Graystones Abbey The Sisters of Our Lady of Divine Light

"The harvest is indeed great, but the laborers are few.

Pray, therefore, to send laborers

Into the harvest."

On the other side of the gate, a woman swathed in black suddenly appeared, her approach so silent that Maura gave a start when she saw the face staring at her through the bars. It was an ancient face, so deeply lined it seemed to be collapsing in on itself, but the eyes were bright and sharp as a bird's. The nun did not speak, posing her question with only her gaze.

"I'm Dr. Isles from the Medical Examiner's office," said Maura. "The police called me here."

The gate squealed open.

Maura stepped into the courtyard. "I'm looking for Detective Rizzoli. I believe she's in the chapel."

The nun pointed directly across the courtyard. Then she turned and shuffled slowly into the nearest doorway, abandoning Maura to make her own way to the chapel.

Snowflakes whirled and danced amid needles of sleet, like white butterflies circling their lead-footed cousins. The most direct route was to cross the courtyard, but the stones were glazed with ice, and Maura's shoes, with their gripless soles, had already proven no match for such a surface. She ducked instead beneath the narrow covered walkway that ran along the courtyard's perimeter. Though protected from the sleet, she found little shelter here from the wind, which sliced through her coat. She was shocked by the cold, reminded yet again of how cruel December in Boston could be. For most of her life, she had lived in San Francisco, where a glimpse of snowflakes was a rare delight, not a torment, like these stinging nettles that swirled under the overhang to nip her face. She veered closer to the building and hugged her coat tighter as she passed darkened windows. From beyond the gate came the faint swish of traffic on Jamaica Riverway. But here, within these walls, she heard only silence. Except for the elderly nun who had admitted her, the compound seemed abandoned.

So it was a shock when she saw three faces staring at her from one of the windows. The nuns stood in a silent tableau, like dark-robed ghosts behind glass, watching the intruder make her way deeper into their sanctuary. Their gazes swerved in unison, following her as she moved past.

The entrance to the chapel was draped with a strand of yellow crime scene tape, which had sagged in the doorway and hung crusted with sleet. She lifted the tape to step beneath it and pushed open the door.

A camera flash exploded in her eyes and she froze, the door slowly hissing shut behind her, blinking away the afterimage that had seared her retinas. As her vision cleared, she saw rows of wooden pews, whitewashed walls, and at the front of the chapel, an enormous crucifix hanging above the altar. It was a coldly austere room, its gloom deepened by the stained glass windows, which admitted only a murky smear of light.

"Hold it right there. Be careful where you step," said the photographer.

Maura looked down at the stone floor and saw blood. And footprints—a confusing jumble of them, along with medical debris. Syringe caps and torn wrappings. The leavings of an ambulance crew. But no body.

Her gaze moved in a wider circle, taking in the piece of trampled white cloth lying in the aisle, the splashes of red on the pews. She could see her own breath in this frigid room, and the temperature seemed to drop even colder, her chill deepening as she read the bloodstains, saw the successive splashes moving up the rows of benches, and understood what had happened here.

The photographer began to click off more shots, each one a visual assault on Maura's eyes.

"Hey Doc?" At the front of the chapel, a mop of dark hair popped up as Detective Jane Rizzoli rose to her feet and waved. "The vic's up here."

"What about this blood here, by the door?"

"That's from the other victim, Sister Ursula. Med-Q boys took her to St. Francis. There's more blood along that center aisle, and some footprints we're trying to preserve, so you'd better circle around to your left. Stick close to the wall."

Maura paused to pull on paper shoe-covers, then edged along the perimeter of the room, hugging the wall. Only as she cleared the front row of pews did she see the nun's body, lying faceup, the fabric of her habit a black pool blending into a larger lake of red. Both hands had already been bagged to preserve evidence. The victim's youth took Maura by surprise. The nun who had let her in the gate, and those she had seen through the window, had all been elderly. This woman was far younger. It was an ethereal face, her pale blue eyes frozen in a look of eerie serenity. Her head was bare, the blond hair shorn to barely an inch long. Every terrible blow was recorded in the torn scalp, the misshapen crown.

"Her name's Camille Maginnes. Sister Camille. Hometown, Hyannisport," said Rizzoli, sounding Dragnet-cool and businesslike. "She was the first novice they've had here in fifteen years. Planned to take her final vows in May." She paused, then added: "She was only twenty," and her anger cracked through the facade.

"She's so young."

"Yeah. Looks like he beat the shit out of her."

Maura pulled on gloves and crouched down to study the destruction. The death instrument had left raggedly linear lacerations on the scalp. Fragments of bone protruded through torn skin, and a clump of gray matter had oozed out. Though the facial skin was largely intact, it was suffused a dark purple.

"She died facedown. Who turned her onto her back?"

"The sisters who found her," said Rizzoli. "They were looking for a pulse."

"What time were the victims discovered?"

"About eight this morning." Rizzoli glanced at her watch. "Nearly two hours ago."

"Do you know what happened? What did the sisters tell you?"

"It's been hard getting anything useful out of them. There are only fourteen nuns left now, and they're all in a state of shock. Here they think they're safe. Protected by God. And then some lunatic breaks in."

"There are signs of forced entry?"

"No, but it wouldn't be all that hard to get into the compound. There's ivy growing all over the walls—you could hop right over without too much trouble. And there's also a back gate, leading to a field, where they have their gardens. A perp could get in that way, too."

"Footprints?"

"A few in here. But outside, they'd be pretty much buried under snow."

"So we don't know that he actually broke in. He could have been admitted through that front gate."

"It's a cloistered order, Doc. No one's allowed inside the gates except for the parish priest, when he comes in to say Mass and hear confession. And there's also a lady who works in the rectory. They let her bring her little girl when she can't get child care. But that's it. No one else comes in without the Abbess's approval. And the sisters stay inside. They leave only for doctors' appointments and family emergencies."

"Who have you spoken to so far?"

"The Abbess, Mother Mary Clement. And the two nuns who found the victims."

"What did they tell you?"

Rizzoli shook her head. "Saw nothing, heard nothing. I don't think the others will be able to tell us much, either."

"Why not?"

"Have you seen how old they are?"

"It doesn't mean they don't have their wits about them."

"One of them's gorked out by a stroke and two of them have Alzheimer's. Most of them sleep in rooms facing away from the courtyard, so they wouldn't have seen a thing."

At first Maura simply crouched over Camille's body, not touching it. Granting the victim a last moment of dignity. Nothing can hurt you now, she thought. She began to palpate the scalp, and felt the crunch of shifting bone fragments beneath the skin. "Multiple blows. All of them landed on the crown or the back of the skull. . . ."

"And the facial bruising? Is that just lividity?"

"Yes. And it's fixed."

"So the blows came from behind. And above."

"The attacker was probably taller."

"Or she was down on her knees. And he was standing over her."

Maura paused, hands touching cool flesh, arrested by the heartbreaking image of this young nun, kneeling before her attacker, blows raining down on her bowed head.

"What kind of bastard goes around beating up nuns?" said Rizzoli. "What the fuck is wrong with this world?"

Maura winced at Rizzoli's choice of words. Though she couldn't remember the last time she'd set foot in a church, and had ceased believing years ago, to hear such profanity in a sanctified place disturbed her. Such was the power of childhood indoctrination. Even she, for whom saints and miracles were now merely fantasies, would never utter a curse in full view of the cross.

But Rizzoli was too angry to care what words came tumbling out of her mouth, even in this sacred place. Her hair was more disheveled than usual, a wild, black mane glistening with melted sleet. The bones of her face jutted out in sharp angles beneath pale skin. In the gloom of the chapel, her eyes were bright coals, lit with rage. Righteous anger had always been Jane Rizzoli's fuel, the essence of what drove her to hunt monsters. Today, though, she seemed feverish with it, and her face was thinner, as though the fire was now consuming her from within.

Maura did not want to feed those flames. She kept her voice dispassionate, her questions businesslike. A scientist dealing in facts, not emotions.

She reached for Sister Camille's arm and tested the elbow joint. "It's flaccid. No rigor mortis."

"Less than five, six hours then?"

"It's also cold in here."

Rizzoli gave a snort, exhaling a puff of vapor in the frigid air. "No kidding."

"Just above freezing, I'd guess. Rigor mortis would be delayed."

"How long?"

"Almost indefinitely."

"What about her face? The fixed bruising?"

"Livor mortis could have happened within half an hour. It doesn't help us all that much with time of death."

Maura opened her kit and set out the chemical thermometer to measure ambient temperature. She eyed the victim's many layers of clothing and decided not to take a rectal temperature until after the body had been transported to the morgue. The room was poorly lit—not a place in which she could adequately rule out sexual assault prior to the insertion of the thermometer. Wrestling off clothes might also dislodge trace evidence. Instead she took out syringes to withdraw vitreous fluid for postmortem potassium levels. It would give her one estimate for time of death.

"Tell me about the other victim," Maura said as she pierced the left eye and slowly withdrew vitreous fluid into the syringe.

Rizzoli gave a groan of disgust at the procedure and turned away. "The vic found by the door was Sister Ursula Rowland, sixty-eight years old. Must be a tough old bird. They said she was moving her arms when they loaded her into the ambulance. Frost and I got here just as they were driving away."

"How badly injured was she?"

"I didn't see her. Latest report we got from St. Francis Hospital is that she's in surgery. Multiple skull fractures and bleeding into the brain."

"Like this victim."

"Yeah. Like Camille." The anger was back in Rizzoli's voice.

Maura rose to her feet and stood shivering. Her trousers had wicked freezing water from the soaked hem of her coat, and her calves felt encased in ice. She had been told on the phone that the death scene was indoors, so she had not brought her scarf or wool gloves from the car. This unheated room was scarcely warmer than the sleet-swept courtyard outside. She shoved her hands into her coat pockets, and wondered how Rizzoli, who was also without warm gloves and scarf, could linger so long in this frigid chapel. Rizzoli seemed to carry her own heat source within her, the fever of her outrage, and although her lips were turning blue, she did not seem in a hurry to seek a warmer room anytime soon.

"Why is it so cold in here?" asked Maura. "I can't imagine they'd want to hold Mass in this room."

"They don't. This part of the building's never used in winter—it's too expensive to heat. There are so few of them still living here, anyway. For Mass, they use a small chapel off the rectory."

Maura thought of the three nuns she'd seen through the window, all of them elderly. These sisters were dying flames, flickering out one by one.

"If this chapel's not used," she said, "what were the victims doing in here?"

Rizzoli gave a sigh, exhaling a dragon's breath of vapor. "No one knows. The Abbess says the last time she saw Ursula and Camille was at prayers last night, around nine. When they didn't appear at morning prayers, the sisters went looking for them. They never expected to find them in here."

"All these blows to the head. It looks like sheer rage."

"But look at her face," said Rizzoli, pointing to Camille. "He didn't hit her face. He spared her face. That makes it seem a lot less personal. As if he's not swinging at her specifically, but at what she is. What she stands for."

"Authority?" said Maura. "Power?"

"Funny. I would have said something along the lines of faith, hope, and charity."

"Well, I went to a Catholic high school."

"You?" Rizzoli gave a snort. "Never would've guessed."

Maura took a deep breath of chilly air and looked up at the cross, remembering her years at Holy Innocents Academy. And the special torments meted out by Sister Magdalene, who had taught history. The torment had not been physical but emotional, dispensed by a woman who was quick to identify which girls had, in her opinion, an unseemly excess of confidence. At the age of fourteen, Maura's best friends had not been people, but books. She'd easily mastered all her classwork, and had been proud of it, too. That was what had brought Sister Magdalene's wrath down upon her shoulders. For Maura's own good, that unholy pride in her own intellect needed to be beaten into humility. Sister Magdalene went about the task with vicious gusto. She had held Maura up to ridicule in class, had written cutting comments in the margins of her immaculate papers, and sighed loudly whenever Maura raised her hand to ask a question. In the end, Maura had been reduced to conquered silence.

"They used to intimidate me," said Maura. "The nuns."

"I didn't think anything scared you, Doc."

"Lots of things scare me."

Rizzoli laughed. "Just not dead bodies, huh?"

"There are far scarier things in this world than dead bodies."

They left the body of Camille lying on her bed of cold stone and moved back around the room's perimeter, toward the bloodstained floor where Ursula had been found, still alive. The photographer had completed his work and departed; only Maura and Rizzoli remained in the chapel, two lone women, their voices echoing off stark walls. Maura had always thought of chapels as universal sanctuaries, where even the spirit of the unbeliever might be comforted. But she found no comfort in this bleak place, where Death had walked, contemptuous of holy symbols.

"They found Sister Ursula right here," said Rizzoli. "She was lying with her head pointed toward the altar, her feet toward the door."

As though prostrating herself before the crucifix.

"This guy's a fucking animal," said Rizzoli, the angry words clipped off like shards of ice. "That's what we're dealing with. Out of his mind. Or some coked-up asshole looking for something to steal."

"We don't know it's a man."

Rizzoli waved toward the body of Sister Camille. "You think a woman did that?"

"A woman can swing a hammer. Crush a skull."

"We found a footprint. There, halfway up the aisle. Looked to me like a man's size twelve."

"One of the ambulance crew?"

"No, you can see the Med-Q team's footprints here, near the door. That one in the aisle's different. That one's his."

The wind blew, rattling the windows, and the door creaked as though invisible hands were tugging at it, desperate to get in. Rizzoli's lips had chilled to blue, and her face had taken on a corpselike pallor, but she showed no intention of seeking a warmer room. That was Rizzoli, too stubborn to be the first to capitulate. To admit she had reached her limit.

Maura looked down at the stone floor where Sister Ursula had been lying, and she could not disagree with Rizzoli's instincts, that this attack was an act of insanity. This was madness she saw here, in these bloodstains. In the blows slammed into Sister Camille's skull. Either madness, or evil.

An icy draft seemed to blow straight up her spine. She straightened, shivering, and her gaze fixed on the crucifix. "I'm freezing," she said. "Can we get warm somewhere? Get a cup of coffee?"

"Are you finished here?"

"I've seen what I need to. The autopsy will tell us the rest."
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 423 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(178)

4 Star

(151)

3 Star

(63)

2 Star

(8)

1 Star

(23)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 425 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 9, 2011

    Highly Recommend - I'm addicted to this series

    Began reading the series (starting with the first book) just this year and I was so happy to finally have found a series that I don't want to stop reading. Luckily with my nook, I don't have to wait. As soon as I'm finished with one book, I download the next and start reading right away!

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 7, 2010

    Rizzoli and Isles are back.

    Rizzoli is plunged into a murder that also forces her to confront her feelings about Dean once more. Her current situation involves a decision that must be made quickly and will set the course of her life to come. Isles must also make decisions about her personal life while maintaining her continued image as a strong woman-in-charge. Both of the tough female characters are vulnerable in their introspection as revealed to the reader. Gerritson is good at this sort of writing.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    On a par with Cornwell and Reichs

    It¿s only four days before Christmas and the citizens of Boston are in an uproar because two nuns in a cloistered abbey are bludgeoned with one dead and the other barely alive. Boston Medical Examiner Dr. Maura Isles discovers that Sister Camille gave birth to a stillborn deformed son. The other nun that was attacked, Sister Ursula was only back in the abbey a year after doing nursing work at a leper colony in India. She remains in intensive care but the doctors aren¿t hopeful that she will recover.<P> Maura is called out on another case when a woman is shot to death, her hands and feet are amputated, and her facial skin peeled away. The woman also has some strange lesions on her body and after exhaustive study, they learn she was suffering from Hansen¿s Disease. A vice president of a company that has a factory near the leper¿s colony is found shot to death, the victim of an assassin just before he was scheduled to talk to the Justice Department. All three of these cases are linked and once that connection is discovered, the police will probably know who the killer is.<P> Tess Gerritsen has joined the ranks of Patricia Cornwell and Kathy Reichs with this fantastic and shocking medical thriller. Jane Rizzoli, one of the more popular Boston detectives, plays a secondary role in THE SINNER because she is as concerned about her unexpected pregnancy as she is about these cases. Dr. Maura Isles is the star of this tale because it is her esoteric medical knowledge that is needed if the case is to be solved.<P> Harriet Klausner

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 21, 2012

    This book was so much better than The Apprentice, the previous b

    This book was so much better than The Apprentice, the previous book in the series. Why did I enjoy it more? The characters were more interactive, expanded into their personal lives, and showed their struggles with the cases extending into their lives. If you didn&rsquo;t like The Apprentice, please give this book a try. I think you will think differently about the author and her ability to write stories.

    Dr. Isles became more personable. Last book she was portrayed as a medical examiner who was very smart, but to me a cold person. There was really no interaction with other characters or activity outside of the office/morgue. This left me feeling like things were black and white with her. In this book, she is portrayed as a human being with feelings and struggles, not a perfect person with a perfect life. Her personal life is a larger part of the story. I liked that.

    Rizzoli is dealing with issues of the case for various reasons. She is also struggling with some personal issues from the past as well as the new. We also get to learn a little more about her family, including the Golden Child, her brother, Frankie.

    I really liked this book. It was a good mix of all the personal stories and the mystery. The mystery for me was awesome. I enjoyed it all the way to the end and the outcome was unique. Just a good blend of church, medical, and corporate issues blended into one.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 24, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    a good continuation

    This is a series of must reads for people who enjoy complex characters and good detective stories. You can welome the continuing characters into your home and root for them to catch the "bad guys". I thoroughly enjoyed the entire series and hope for more.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 14, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    The sinner by Tess Gerritsen

    This book was just ok. It moved really slow and was super hard to get into. The final climax though totally made up for it. The trick is getting through it to that point

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2013

    2/21/13

    2/21/13 A very good read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2012

    Fast paced thriller!

    By far her best out of the series thus far, these characters are really taking shape and Gerritsen weaves a very edgey story with lots of twist and turns!!!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 23, 2012

    I love Tess Gerritsen's books!!

    I'm a mystery fan, especially of those written by women. Good book! I find it interesting that Rizzoli and Isles in the series do not match the Rizzoli and Isles in the books, but I enjoy both.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 15, 2012

    Excellent!!

    Cannot get enough of this series!! Just can't put them down....finally have a series that I can really get into!! Read this book in one day! Now starting the next one, Body Double. Tess Gerritsen is my new favorite author!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2012

    Wonderfully inticing

    All the books I have read in this series have been great and this is no exception. You may find yourself not wanting to put it down just like I did. I didn't stop reading it till I had finished it.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 9, 2012

    I thoroughly enjoy the details involved in these books. They are

    I thoroughly enjoy the details involved in these books. They are a very good thriller, mystery with sub-stories. I would recommend for adult readers.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2012

    Highly recommended.

    I had watched the series on TV and so I decided to buy the Nook books starting with #1. They have all been so good so far the I can't wait to get to the next one.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2012

    Not as good as the last two books.

    Not as good as the last two books.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2012

    Great series

    Good characters and storylines. You won't want to put it down.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 30, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Definetely a good one

    I love all of Tess Gerristen's books, whether they are about Rizzoli & Isles or another character.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 15, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent story!

    I found THE SINNER by Tess Gerritsen very entertaining. It continues with the very likeable characters Rizzoli & Isles. The murders are messy and the solution quite involved but intriguing. There is a big suprise in this book for the lovers of Rizzoli! Be ready!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 31, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    positive

    Loved the strong female protagonists that is not overdone or one dimensional the way I find Larsson to be. Characters are dealing with real human dilemmas at the same time as telling a great stopry with twists and turns. Enjoyable rread!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2010

    Highly recommended. A must read.

    I could not put this ( book ) down. I give it a 10!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 1, 2010

    Recommend, especially for viewers of the TV series

    As is Ms Gerritsen's style, this included many detailed description of corpses and bodies, but well served in the telling of a compelling tale. I liked the continuing development of the 2 major characters. One blemish for me is her usage of an often confused term for the main premise of the plot, namely Immaculate Conception to describe a miraculous conception. Immaculate Conception is a dogma related to Mary herself being conceived immaculately, that is, without (Original) Sin. This really detracted from the perception of her usually thorough research standard.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 425 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)