The popular duo of Boston Police Department detective Jane Rizzoli and forensic pathologist Maura Isles returns in Tess Gerritsen’s latest crime thriller, Listen to Me. Number thirteen in the series, it’s the first I’ve read.
The investigators’ probe into the brutal murder of nurse Sofia Suarez is interleaved with what a little research indicates is a story line unusual for this series, the antics of Jane’s mother Angela. Busybody Angela is a Neighborhood Watch unto herself, and a repeat caller to the suburban Revere police department regarding her suspicions about the shenanigans of her neighbors. Her calls are not only a nuisance—ruffling interdepartmental feathers that Jane has to try to smooth—but you can’t help thinking the calls will come back to hurt her. Maybe she is indeed onto something. Or maybe she will have cried wolf too many times, if a real threat emerges. All you can be sure of is that Jane is fast running out of patience with her.
The investigation into Suarez’s death moves forward at a snail’s pace. The woman was well-respected and generally liked by her neighbors and work colleagues at the Pilgrim Hospital Surgical Intensive Care Unit. There’s nothing in those relationships to suggest any animosity toward her.
Unexpectedly, the best lead comes from Jamal Bird, an African-American teenager living on Suarez’s block who helped her set up her electronics. Suarez’s cell phone and laptop are missing. Finding them, or otherwise getting at their records may hold some actionable information. The first interesting thing Jamal tells them is that Suarez bought the computer for some kind of research. They can’t help wondering whether what she was looking into is what put her in the sights of a killer.
A subtheme of the book is the tricky nature of mother-daughter relationships. The younger generation’s behavior is what usually creates these dilemmas, but in three situations in this book, it’s the reverse.
Ultimately, the plot seems a bit of a stretch. However, fans of Gerritsen’s characters may easily overlook that issue. It’s also possible that most books in this series come down a little harder on the police procedural or medical examiner aspects, whereas this book, in devoting so much real estate to Angela’s meddling, has less room to develop those details. It was a little difficult for me to accept that someone who is both the girlfriend and mother of crackerjack police detectives could be so oblivious to the possible bad outcomes she courted. If you haven’t read Gerritsen before, you might want to start with an earlier book.