“A seductive shapeshifter of a novel”

A rave review for CHOOSE ME in the Wall Street Journal: 

Boston is the setting of “Choose Me” (Thomas & Mercer, 320 pages, $24.95), a seamless collaboration between authors Tess Gerritsen and Gary Braver. Police detectives Frances “Frankie” Loomis and her partner, MacClennan, have come to investigate the death of 22-year-old Taryn Moore, a college student who fell from her 5th-floor balcony to the sidewalk below.

Taryn recently broke up with her longtime boyfriend, the detectives are told, and it seems likely she committed suicide. But the meticulous Frankie, single mom of twin 18-year-old daughters, inspects Taryn’s apartment “with a mother’s knowing eye.” A frozen meal was put in the microwave but left uneaten. The dead girl’s cell phone is nowhere to be found. The detective’s instincts whisper: You missed something. Don’t turn away yet.

“Choose Me” begins as an engrossing police procedural. But this is a seductive shapeshifter of a novel, full of flashbacks and revelations. Taryn, who was pregnant at the time of her death, was brilliant but unstable. When her boyfriend broke up with her, she transferred her obsessions to her favorite professor, Jack Dorian, a married man with whom she began to display the same delusions she had with her callous ex. Which man made her pregnant? Did carrying a child induce in her a vulnerable depression, or a vengeful rage?

The psychological suspense heightens as we’re given deeper glimpses into the psyches of Taryn and those in her orbit. Taryn was a budding classics scholar, and she rejected the passive victimhood of women like Queen Dido in favor of the assertive stance of Medea. “To start a new life,” she thought, “one must burn the old one.” Professor Dorian, guilt-wracked over his own behavior, knows: “This is not going to end well.”

The rhythms of the police procedural reassert themselves through the persona of Frankie, a “matronly woman with bifocals and a navy-blue pantsuit.” Ms. Gerritsen and Mr. Braver bring all their characters to believable life—from Frankie’s well-meaning partner Mac, who gives her dating tips, to Taryn, hellbent on becoming a worthy successor to her mythic inspirations.

 

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