Book Review: The Shape of Night by Tess Gerritsen

A woman trying to outrun her past is drawn to a quiet coastal town in Maine–and to a string of unsolved murders–in this haunting tale of romantic suspense from New York Times bestselling author Tess Gerritsen.

Ava Collette is punishing herself for an unspeakable tragedy. So she flees Boston and rents an old home named Brodie’s Watch on a remote coastal peninsula of Maine, hoping to work on a cookbook inspired by New England cuisine that she’s been trying to finish for months. She immediately feels at peace in the isolated house–until she starts to hear strange noises.

Rumor has it that a sea captain named Brodie has haunted the house for decades. Then, one night, Ava is awakened to find herself face to face with an apparition who looks–and feels–all too real. Meanwhile, there’s been a series of accidental deaths nearby that don’t add up. And as Ava starts to check into the previous renter’s mysterious disappearance, she starts to realize that there’s a disturbing secret some in town are desperate to keep hidden.

Soon all of Ava’s waking hours are consumed by her investigation, and her nights are ignited by Captain Brodie’s ghostly visits. But even as she questions her own sanity, she knows she must uncover the truth before a killer strikes again.

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My Review

I chose to read this book after receiving a free e-copy. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased. I sold a lot of Tess Gerritsen books when I owned a bookstore, and I enjoyed Rizzoli & Isles on TV, so I was looking forward to reading this book.

Shape of Night is a paranormal psychological thriller. It’s not what I expected, but after a few pages I was hooked.

Ava is full of guilt because of something that happened in Boston, so she moves into Brodie’s Watch for a few months to get away. It’s a big old house that was once owned by Captain Brody who died at sea many years ago. Because they’re doing some construction on it, the rent is affordable and she relishes the time alone to write her newest cookbook.

Ava drinks a lot to help ease the pain of her guilt, so when she sees the ghost of Captain Brody, she’s not sure if he’s real or a figment of her imagination. As she learns more about the house’s past, she realizes that Captain Brody isn’t only real, but that she may be in danger.

The characters in Shape of Night are realistic and flawed just like real people. Ava has a drinking problem, hasn’t had a decent relationship with a man, and is holding a big secret that is tearing her apart. Even though she’s a mess, I liked he. Just like in any small town, the townsfolk are gossips and there are secrets that are kept from outsiders. Sometimes intentionally, sometimes not.

I enjoyed this book more than I expected to when I started it. It kept my interest throughout, I like Tess Gerritsen’s writing style, and there was more than one twist which is always great. It also has a good ending.

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.