The Silent Girl
The mystery running through The Silent Girl takes readers on an unforgettable journey. The discovery of a grisly murder scene in Boston’s Chinatown takes Jane Rizzoli on an investigation that leads her back not only to past crimes, but also gives readers an interesting look at Chinese mythology and at the Chinese community in Boston. This is a group about which I am largely ignorant, and I found the background information every bit as fascinating as the story.
The basic gist of the story is this – the Chinatown murderer left behind few clues. However, the little bit Maura Isles finds at autopsy leads directly back to a murder-suicide that occurred in a Chinatown restaurant nearly 20 years before. The only known witness with a connection to the events is a local martial arts instructor whose husband died in the massacre, and whose own life is more than a bit mysterious.
When Rizzoli’s team comes searching and interviewing in Chinatown, they quickly learn that this martial arts instructor doesn’t believe the murder-suicide conclusion reached years before. Her belief that the alleged killer was himself a victim initially appears far-fetched, but then as events unfold and it becomes obvious that just about everyone connected with the long ago crime is now in danger, her assertions start to look more realistic.
This story takes readers on a maze of twists and turns, and it’s one of those grand mysteries that veers off into another direction just as one can almost feel the solution to the puzzle coming into view. From a plotting standpoint, even though this is a somewhat fantastical “grand conspiracy” story, it really does work. The dynamic between law enforcement and the residents of Chinatown fascinated me, too. At times, the police seemed to view the Chinese as exotic and “other,” but I notice that throughout the book, the residents of Chinatown view the American police in a very similar way. The mixture of curiosity, lack of understanding, and suspicion intermingled with attempts to make connections felt very real.
My only quibble with this story is that I wish we could have seen more of Rizzoli and Isles as characters. Gerritsen has developed their characters over many books (this is 9th in a series), and their characters felt thinner than usual in this installment. Even so, The Silent Girl is a worthy installment in a fantastic mystery series.