#Review - Playing with Fire by Tess Gerritsen @tessgerritsen

Playing with Fire by Tess Gerritsen
Random House Publishing - Ballantine Books
Publication Date: October 27, 2015
Date Read: October 27, 2015

A beautiful violinist is haunted by a very old piece of music she finds in a strange antique shop in Rome.

The first time Julia Ansdell picks up The Incendio Waltz, she knows it’s a strikingly unusual composition. But while playing the piece, Julia blacks out and awakens to find her young daughter implicated in acts of surprising violence. And when she travels to Venice to find the previous owner of the music, she uncovers a dark secret that involves dangerously powerful people—a family who would stop at nothing to keep Julia from bringing the truth to light.

When I saw that Tess Gerritsen had a new stand alone novel being released, I jumped at the chance to read it.  This ended up being a book that is really hard for me to rate.  Tess Gerritsen definitely knows how to write and I liked a lot of things about this book.  Unfortunately, there were some things that I didn't like about this book as well.  I think that the experience of reading this book ended up being just okay for me.

The story really hooked me from the very beginning and I thought that I was well on my way to a 4 or 5 star rating.  I absolutely love music so when I started reading and realized that music was going to be a part of the story, I knew that I was in for a treat.  One of the main characters in the book, Julia, is a violinist.  Julia collects music and at the beginning of the story she acquires a piece of music while on a trip to Rome that ends up playing an important role in the story.  

The book lost me a little when the story shifted to tell Lorenzo's story.  I am not always a fan of books with a dual story line.  This is one of those cases where the two stories just don't fit together very well.  I liked Lorenzo's story just as much as I did Julia's but the thread connecting the pieces was thin at best.  Lorenzo is a Jewish musician living in Venice during World War II.  The parts of the story that focused on Lorenzo really were often heartbreaking.

My biggest problem with this book was the ending.  I HATED how the book ended.  I actually needed to reflect on it for a few days before I could sit down to write a review.  In Julia's case the solution seemed like nothing more than a cop out.  I honestly cannot remember the last time that I was so thoroughly disappointed in the ending of a book.   The part of the epilogue that attempted to pull the two stories together a little better was also a huge letdown.

The book had some great moments as well.  There were a few really creepy scenes that really had me glued to the book.  I couldn't wait to figure out what the heck was going on.  There were also some moments in the book that were so vividly described that they elicited some strong emotions.  In the end, I am glad that I read the book and I would recommend it to others.  I plan to read more from Tess Gerritsen soon. 

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Random House Publishing - Ballantine via NetGalley for the purpose of providing an honest review.

About the Author

Internationally bestselling author Tess Gerritsen took an unusual route to a writing career. A graduate of Stanford University, Tess went on to medical school at the University of California, San Francisco, where she was awarded her M.D.

While on maternity leave from her work as a physician, she began to write fiction. In 1987, her first novel was published. Call After Midnight, a romantic thriller, was followed by eight more romantic suspense novels. She also wrote a screenplay, "Adrift", which aired as a 1993 CBS Movie of the Week starring Kate Jackson.

Tess's first medical thriller, Harvest, was released in hardcover in 1996, and it marked her debut on the New York Times bestseller list. Her suspense novels since then have been: Life Support (1997), Bloodstream (1998), Gravity (1999), The Surgeon (2001), The Apprentice (2002), The Sinner (2003), Body Double (2004), Vanish (2005), The Mephisto Club (2006), and The Bone Garden (2007). Her books have been translated into 31 languages, and more than 15 million copies have been sold around the world.

As well as being a New York Times bestselling author, she has also been a #1 bestseller in both Germany and the UK. She has won both the Nero Wolfe Award (for Vanish) and the Rita Award (for The Surgeon.) Critics around the world have praised her novels as "Pulse-pounding fun" (Philadelphia Inquirer), "Scary and brilliant" (Toronto Globe and Mail), and "Polished, riveting prose" (Chicago Tribune). Publisher Weekly has dubbed her the "medical suspense queen".

Now retired from medicine, she writes full time. She lives in Maine.

Author Links: Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter


  1. There is nothing more disappointing than a bad ending to a book. I can deal with a bad start, but not a bad ending. It is also very disappointing when it is a book from one of your favourite authors. I hope that the next book you read is more satisfactory. :)


    1. It is disappointing when a book ends poorly. I like a strong start to a book but I need an ending that leaves me feeling satisfied. I haven't read a lot of Tess Gerritsen but I definitely plan to read more of her work. Thanks, Catherine!


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