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.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Decent Read But Feels Rushed
This book follows two narratives - one set in modern day Italy while the other is set in the 1940s.
While the story starts off as a horror rather than a thriller and gradually embraces the latter as it’s primary theme, it is well-written and the transitions between narratives are especially well done.
I personally found the twist ending a bit rushed, along with some loose ends that could have been resolved.
Playing with fire
A good read. I really enjoyed it.
Playing with Fire!
I just finished Tess Gerritsen’s latest novel Playing with Fire. It is told from two different perspectives. Julia Ansdell is in Rome, Italy. She was playing a festival nearby (she is a violinist). She is picking up souvenirs for her husband, Rob and her daughter, Lily (a cute, little blonde) before heading home. Julia notices an antique store with old music and books. Julia collects old and unusual music. She picks up a book with gypsy music and a single sheet of music falls out. It is handwritten with the title Incendio by L. Todesco (means fire). The first time Julia plays the music at home while enjoying a day with her daughter, Lily. The next thing she knows is her cat is dead and Lily is holding the garden tool that killed the cat. A few days later Julia is playing the music again (and Lily is home) and she is stabbed in the leg with a piece of broken glass. Lily is saying “hurt Mommy” according to Julia. Multiple tests on run on Lily and the only thing they discover is that the music seems to be familiar to Lily (according to a test they performed). Julia withdraws from her daughter. The ever helpful husband believes the problem must lie with his wife. He wants her to go to a specialist (a psychiatrist that helps fathers get custody of their children). Julia is determined to find out more about the music.
Lorenzo Todesco is an Italian-Jew in Venice, Italy in 1938. A friend of his grandfather’s wants him to perform a duet with his granddaughter, Laura (a lovely, bubbly, strong blonde). While rehearsing the two fall in love. But then they are unable to perform because Lorenzo is Jewish. Laura tries to save Lorenzo and his family, but they refuse to leave or realize how terrible it is going to get for Jews in Italy. Lorenzo ends up in an Italian concentration camp where he is picked to be a musician. Lorenzo plays music with other musicians to cover up the sounds of the poor souls being murdered in the camps. Lorenzo writes a special piece of music that he titled Incendio.
Playing with Fire is an interesting story. I enjoyed reading this novel. I feel that the World War II theme has been overplayed this year, but I did like Tess Gerritsen’s book. It is different from the other novels I have read. It is overall a very well written book. The one thing I did not like was the abrupt ending. The book was going along at a good pace and then someone hit the brakes (whiplash). I enjoyed how the two perspectives tied together, but I was disappointed because it did not contain a great paranormal ending (the book felt like a paranormal book, but it really is not). I give Playing with Fire 4 out of 5 stars (which means I liked it).
I received a complimentary copy of Playing with Fire from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.