Review: Playing with Fire by Tess Gerritsen

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Title:  Playing with Fire
Author: Tess Gerritsen
Format: eBook (ARC)
Publisher: Ballentine Books


*I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Playing with Fire is one of those stories that bounces back and forth between the past and present. In this case, the past is the holocaust, and then we have some strange things going on in the present.

Julia is the main character from the present we follow. Her story is one I was not interested in for the first half of the book. She’s a violinist in a quartet, a wife, and a mother of a charming little girl. She is traveling in Italy when she comes across a small shop, and finds an interesting book of music. In the book of music is a hand composed piece of music. She hears the notes in her head and just has to get it.

After returning home she thinks it would be interesting to play this new piece of music. She thinks it will sound beautiful. When she plays it though, her daughter stabs and kills the family cat. Distraught she puts the music away, but she can’t get it out of her mind. She eventually plays it again, and this time her daughter stabs her in the leg with a broken piece of glass. Fearing becoming crazy like her mother, Julia basically makes herself crazy trying to figure out what is going on with her daughter.

Lorenzo is the composer of this mysterious music, and you can probably guess, is who we follow in the past. He is a Jew, and feelings towards Jews in Italy are just turning sour. He is asked to play a duet for a competition with a girl his age named Laura, her family is Catholic, but are sympathetic to the Jews and in fact do everything they can to help them. Lorenzo has written a duet for them. He spends one day a week at her house with her father, practicing the music, and falls in love.

They get to the competition, but they have been removed from the program due to Lorenzo being a Jew. Laura however, won’t hear of it. There is a good scene here so I’m not going to say much other than, this is where things for Lorenzo and Laura get complicated.

I had a hard time trying to think of what I would rate this. I had a hard time reading Julia’s story for the first half of the book. What is set up though makes the ending all that more spectacular. (If you too are struggling with her story, stick with it, it gets soooo much better.) If I take my feelings toward the beginning out of the equation, the ending is 5 of 5. But the ending wouldn’t be that wonderful without the set up. Julia’s story is the only part I had trouble with, but I very much enjoyed Lorenzo’s.

I fell in love with how Lorenzo spoke of his music, and how he described Laura. I could relate to him putting his family first, and trying to be respectful of Laura and her father. And the ending…what an ending. I was almost in tears. Overall, I guess I’d have to give this 3.75 stars of 5.