So… it has to be said, The Shape of Night is quite a departure from the Tess Gerritsen novel I was expecting.
It dips into gothic otherworldly ghostly stuff which is a genre I don’t read and struggle to engage (with), so I confess my review is tainted by that. I did, however, finish the book which I guess says something about the fact that I realised there was some good ol’ crime fiction buried in there and wanted some sort of closure for our flawed but likeable protagonist.
The Shape of Night
by Tess Gerritsen
Published by Bantam Press
on October 3rd 2019
Source: Penguin Random House Australia
Genres: Paranormal / Fantasy / Sci Fi, Thriller / Suspense
When Ava arrives at Brodie’s Watch, she thinks she has found the perfect place to hide from her past. Something terrible happened, something she is deeply ashamed of, and all she wants is to forget.
But the old house on the hill both welcomes and repels her and Ava quickly begins to suspect she is not alone. Either that or she is losing her mind.
The house is full of secrets, but is the creeping sense of danger coming from within its walls, or from somewhere else entirely?
When other favourite authors of mine (Lisa Unger for example) have gone into the mystical I’ve struggled. Although I watch A LOT of science fiction and fantasy stuff on television I don’t read it. And I’m not sure why I can accept the lack of logic / realism on screen but not on the page?!
I would probably have been more convinced by the ghost of Captain Jeremiah Brodie (who died in the mid 1800s) had it not been so sexually-driven (and into S & M). The dichotomy of the ghost’s character was weird and issued huge red flags whether he be corporeal or not. I mean, why couldn’t it just scare people or be irascibly haughty (a la The Ghost and Mrs Muir). (If we’re talking ‘sexy’ ghosts!!!)
Of course, the house Ava’s escaped to has a long history and a number of victims. Many of whom however lived long and happy lives before their deaths. Indeed, Ava believes Captain Brodie (the ghost) when he tells her he’ll protect her while she’s there. And – mostly – she feels quite safe at home. (Not to mention rather titillated.)
There are mysteries afoot though as the previous tenant left the house quite suddenly and there have been a couple of deaths and disappearances in the small and tranquil Tucker Cove that have Ava slightly nervous. Thankfully she’s got Captain Brodie and her cat Hannibal (named after the fictional serial killer) waiting at home for her. And lots of wine. And whisky.
I’m being facetious but Ava’s pretty blunt about her drinking problem.
She also tells us up-front that she’s ‘hiding out’. Not from danger, but she’s running away from her problems. She’s hurt people she loves and cannot bare to be around them any longer. She tells us her problems started eight months earlier but it sounds as if her personal demons (we don’t learn more about) may have led to her behaviour back then and the events that ensued.
I did enjoy the elements of this novel of course: about the actual cookbook Ana is writing… about traditional New England cooking and the cuisine of seafaring families. And then there are some interesting townsfolk: the affable workmen at the house; the handsome doctor; the brittle real estate agent; ghost-hunters; and so forth.
When Captain Brodie first appeared I almost put this book aside assuming / knowing it wasn’t really a book I would enjoy. I kept reading however, because I gathered there was an underlying mystery to be solved. And there is.
People less cynical than I would probably enjoy the spectral elements and be interested by the ghost hunters who take their work seriously and definitely don’t deserve my glibness.
So… in summary, I whipped through this fairly quickly and suspect a lot of readers would find it fun.
The Shape of Night by Tess Gerritsen was published in Australia by Penguin Random House and available from today.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.