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A gripping standalone thriller by the New York Times bestselling author of the Rizzoli & Isles series
INTERNATIONAL THRILLER WRITERS AWARD FINALIST • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY LOS ANGELES TIMES AND SUSPENSE MAGAZINE
In a shadowy antiques shop in Rome, violinist Julia Ansdell happens upon a curious piece of music—the Incendio waltz—and is immediately entranced by its unusual composition. Full of passion, torment, and chilling beauty, and seemingly unknown to the world, the waltz, its mournful minor key, its feverish arpeggios, appear to dance with a strange life of their own. Julia is determined to master the complex work and make its melody heard.
Back home in Boston, from the moment Julia’s bow moves across the strings, drawing the waltz’s fiery notes into the air, something strange is stirred—and Julia’s world comes under threat. The music has a terrifying and inexplicable effect on her young daughter, who seems violently transformed. Convinced that the hypnotic strains of Incendio are weaving a malevolent spell, Julia sets out to discover the man and the meaning behind the score.
Her quest beckons Julia to the ancient city of Venice, where she uncovers a dark, decades-old secret involving a dangerously powerful family that will stop at nothing to keep Julia from bringing the truth to light.
Praise for Playing with Fire
“Compelling . . . I defy you to read the first chapter and not singe your fingers reading the rest.”—David Baldacci
“One of the best and most original thrillers of the year.”—Providence Journal
“[A] novel brimming with emotion, literary description, and psychological suspense.”—The Huffington Post
“Will make readers drop everything to immerse themselves in its propulsive dual narrative.”—Los Angeles Times
On a trip to Rome, violinist Julia Ansdell, the narrator of this haunting standalone from bestseller Gerritsen (The Bone Garden), buys an old music book titled Gypsy from an antique shop. Inside the book, on a loose sheet of paper, is a handwritten waltz, Incendio, by one L. Todesco. Back home in Boston, Julia plays Incendio on her violin, but doing so appears to set off a series of calamities, starting with the death of the family cat, that upset her relationships with her husband, Rob, and their three-year-old daughter, Lily. Julia subsequently travels to Venice, to try to learn more about the music and its Jewish composer, Lorenzo Todesco. Flashbacks spanning 1938 to 1944 chronicle Lorenzo's tragic story, in particular his romance with Catholic Laura Balboni, as the Fascist regime's ever harsher anti-Semitic laws tear families and friends apart. Gerritsen movingly depicts Julia's search, which has some surprising repercussions and builds to a satisfying crescendo.