- Audiobook Review
- Author: Tess Gerritsen
- Performed by Julia Whelan/Will Damron
- Released: October 2015 by Brilliance Audio
- Category: Historical, Mystery, Suspense
Julia doesn’t understand what is happening to her daughter, but she thinks she knows what’s causing it. She is terrified for Lily, and for herself, but what scares her more is that no one believes her.
If she is going to help Lily, she will have to find the answers alone, embarking on a search that will take her to the shadowy back streets of Venice.
There, Julia uncovers a heartbreaking, long-buried tale of tragedy and devastation – a discovery that puts her in serious danger. Some people will do anything in their power to keep the truth silent . . .
Playing With Fire is two interwoven stories from different times. Julia Ansdell is a professional violinist living in present day America with her husband, Rob and three-year old daughter, Lily. While on a visit to Rome Julia finds an old book of music in an antique shop, which contains a hand written piece of music; a waltz entitled Incendio, composed by L Todesco. As she reads the music, desperate to test the notes on her violin, she knows she must have it.
Back at home with her daughter close by, Julia decides to play Incendio. She struggles to make sense of the notes as the music becomes frantic and uncontrolled. Lily has a totally unexpected and violent reaction to the music but seems unaware of it afterwards. She has another, more vicious reaction during the second time Julia attempts to play the waltz. Lily is seen by a doctor and psychiatrist, but it is Julia’s sanity which called into question after it’s discovered her mother had a history of mental illness. Julia becomes convinced the music is somehow the catalyst for her daughter’s behaviour and, afraid for herself and Lily, begins an investigation which takes her on a journey she could never have imagined.
Rob helps me wash the cat’s blood from the patio. Poor old Juniper is now wrapped in a black trash bag, awaiting burial. We’ve dug the hole for his grave in the far corner of the yard, behind the lilac bush, so I will not have to look at it whenever I come into the garden. Juniper was eighteen years old and almost blind, a gentle companion who deserves a better eternity than a trash bag, but I was too shaken to come up with any alternative.
As war threatens Europe, Italian born Jew, Lorenzo Todesco is living in Venice with his family. He is a composer and violinist and is asked to play a duet with the daughter of his father’s good friend. As he and Laura practice for the musical competition they form a growing attachment. But WWII is imminent and many Jews are fleeing the country. Lorenzo’s family refuse to believe there is any danger but the night of the competition begins the changes which tear Lorenzo’s and Laura’s lives apart.
The research for this story is evident in the descriptions of the horrors visited upon the Italian Jewish community by the German and Italian SS. Non Jewish people turn against former friends and neighbours, anxious for their own safety. The opposite side of the coin were those who risked everything by assisting whoever and whenever they could; sheltering, feeding or helping those in peril to escape. Lorenzo’s story is powerful, haunting and poignant, written sympathetically, and brings home once more the terrible toll of war and persecution. Although there have been many stories of the Holocaust, this takes a slightly different angle and a more personal approach. The story sits well within the historical account of events.
I enjoyed the mix of past and present and the way the two storylines melded. Julia’s story is told in the first person and Lorenzo’s in the third. A combination of thriller and love story, I was engaged from the start. A surprising ending with everything coming together nicely, but after the tension and suspense of the narrative I would have liked a stronger ending; that is to say, less explanatory passages and more actions. An excellent narration by Julia Whelan and Will Damron, both bringing so much emotion and passion into both stories, especially Lorenzo’s, giving it that added extra.
Violin music was added to the narration at specific points and Tess Gerritsen composed the music used for Incendio.
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), The Bone Garden (2007), The Keepsake (2008; UK title: Keeping the Dead), Ice Cold (2010; UK title: The Killing Place), The Silent Girl (2011), Last To Die (2012), Die Again (2014), and Playing With Fire (2015). Her books have been published in forty countries, and more than 30 million copies have been sold around the world.
Her books have been top-3 bestsellers in the United States and number one bestsellers abroad. 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”.
Her series of novels featuring homicide detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles inspired the TNT television series “Rizzoli & Isles” starring Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander.
Now retired from medicine, she writes full time. She lives in Maine.