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Playing with Fire
Tess Gerritsen

Ballantine Books
October 27, 2015/ ISBN 978-1101884348
Thriller / Academic

Reviewed by Linda Morelli


Julia Ansdell is in Rome, Italy, when she spies an old music book. Inside is a sheet of handwritten music entitled Incendio, composed by L. Todesco. Julia, a violinist, can hear the notes playing in her mind and fascinated by the frantic and difficult ending, buys the music. After returning home to her husband Rob and three-year-old daughter Lily, Julia starts playing the music. After her cat is stabbed and killed by Lily, who later stabs Julia in the leg with broken glass while murmuring “Hurt Mommy,” Julia suspects her daughter is mentally ill. Or perhaps the music itself is the cause?

In Venice just before World War II, music Professor Alberto Mazza’s is stunned by his grandson's talent and gives young Lorenzo his prized violin. In June 1938, Lorenzo is almost nineteen when Professor Balboni of the Ca’ Foscari music school asks Lorenzo to play a duet at the school’s competition with his daughter, Laura. Lorenzo admires Laura’s beauty and inner strength, and writes a composition, which they plan to play as a duet. As they practice, Lorenzo slowly falls in love.

But war brings with it hatred and prejudice. Lorenzo and his family, being Jews, are deported. Lorenzo, separated from his family, ends up in an internment camp, forced to play his violin for German officers while the fires of crematoriums blaze nearby.

Playing with Fire is an outstanding thriller that kept me spellbound to the very end. Through Julia’s present day search for the author of “Incendio” and the flashbacks revealing the horrors and fires of war, we learn that the repercussions of the past never die. Totally fascinating and highly recommended is Tess Gerritsen’s “Historical Notes,” an informative commentary on the persecution of Italian Jews and the many unsung heroes whom she honors in this novel.

Reviewer's Note: Tess Gerritsen is The New York Times bestselling author of the "Rizzoli & Isles" series.

Reviewer Linda Morelli is the award winning author of three published romance novels.
Reviewed 2015