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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

Playing With Fire

Playing the Fire

ISBN: 1101884347

Publisher: Random/Ballantine

Publication Date: 10/27/2015

Format: Other

My Rating: 4 Stars

A beautiful violinist is haunted by a very old piece of music she finds in a strange antique shop in Rome.

The first time Julia Ansdell picks up The Incendio Waltz, she knows it’s a strikingly unusual composition. But while playing the piece, Julia blacks out and awakens to find her young daughter implicated in acts of surprising violence. And when she travels to Venice to find the previous owner of the music, she uncovers a dark secret that involves dangerously powerful people—a family who would stop at nothing to keep Julia from bringing the truth to light.

My Review

A special thank you to Random House and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Tess Gerritsen delivers a striking and tragic love story PLAYING WITH FIRE, a boy and girl, in love and the world came between them. When a beautiful violinist becomes haunted by a piece of music, and strange things begin happening, she will stop at nothing in search for the owner, and its extraordinary history-- leading to danger. A mix of psychological suspense, intriguing mystery, to historical significance, while at the heart of the novel is the power of music--to inspire and to change lives, even across the centuries. If you have not already read the inspiration behind this remarkable creative journey, encourage you to do so. Visit Tess Gerritsen’s website Here, to learn more. She had a dream/nightmare which turned into her novel, Playing with Fire. I have heard of this previously by other authors; however, this time it is book, plus music. Powerful stuff! At the heart of the novel is the obscure piece of handwritten music called

“Incendio.” This part is amazing— creating both the story and the music; as she mentions halfway through the writing of the novel, the music comes to her in a dream, possibly into her subconscious, waking with the melody in her head: a mournful waltz, just as she had described in the story. From there you can read about her journey, leading to the international concert violinist, as recording artist to the end result, which you can listen and purchase. I find this fascinating, truly adding to the overall novel-- to appreciate the power of this enchanting novel. Julia is a violinist and finds a handwritten composition called Incendio in an antique shop in Rome. When returning to her life in Boston with husband, Rob and child, Lily--she begins playing the composition a few days later. Julia blacks out and awakens to find her daughter involved in a shocking act of violence. Another alarming event occurs, and each time she is playing the music. She is fearful of her own daughter. What connection does the music have with the psychological mind? All the while her husband thinks she may be the one going mad. Has the music brought evil into their lives? At this point, she becomes obsessed with finding the origins of the music, and the owner of the composition, in order to save their sanity. As she begins her search for answers to Venice, she uncovers a dark secret, connected to dangerous and powerful people. A tragic love story and a dark time in Italian history. The author also mentions this is a shorter novel, as she wanted it to feel like a fable, a tragic history, and the courage of ordinary heroes. She does an excellent job with portraying the past and present with dual storylines. When you begin reading you will think a psycho-thriller; however, once you get into the stories alternating between Julia and Lorenzo, the musical composition of the haunting Incendious, more history and evil come to light, making this an engrossing read. From the early days taking readers back to the 1930s with a young violinist dreams of winning a competition with his partner. From the days of the Holocaust, from sadness, tragedy, and loss. We also hear from Lorenzo, and his passion for music, as well as his struggles. The book is almost eerie, disturbing, with a paranormal feel; yet enlightening--very rare. Original. Unique. A number of different emotions going on from past to present, the passion, music, the fire, love, evil, horror, suspense, mystery, tragedy, and most importantly, the historical significance. Playing with Fire is like no other book, I can compare. The author’s passion and love for music reflected throughout. Overall, I agree with some of the other reviewers, Lorenzo’s story was the most powerful and compelling; whereas, Julia’s took a back seat—of course both contrasts are needed. An ideal choice for book clubs and further discussions. The author includes some wonderful historical notes and additional further reading and references,at the end. Have also pre-ordered the audio; anticipate a powerful audiobook performance, worthy to experience again--narrated by Julia Whelan and Will Damron.

Review Links: Goodreads


Tess Gerritsen

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), The Bone Garden (2007), The Keepsake (2008; UK title: Keeping the Dead), Ice Cold (2010; UK title: The Killing Place), The Silent Girl (2011), Last To Die (August 2012), Die Again (January 2015) and Playing With Fire (coming October 27, 2015). Her books have been published in forty countries, and more than 30 million copies have been sold around the world.

Her books have been top-3 bestsellers in the United States and number one bestsellers abroad. 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”.

Her series of novels featuring homicide detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles inspired the TNT television series “Rizzoli & Isles” starring Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander.

Now retired from medicine, she writes full time. She lives in Maine. Website






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