The Shape of Night – Tess Gerritsen

The No.1 bestselling author returns with her new standalone novel, a gothic contemporary ghost story full of chills and suspense.

About the Book:

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.

About the Author

Bestselling author Tess Gerritsen is also a physician, and she brings to her novels her first-hand knowledge of emergency and autopsy rooms. Her thrillers starring homicide detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles inspired the hit TV series Rizzoli & Isles. But Tess’s interests span far more than medicine and crime. As an anthropology student at Stanford University, she catalogued centuries-old human remains, and she continues to travel the world, driven by her fascination with ancient cultures and bizarre natural phenomena. Tess has sold over 40 million copies of her books worldwide.

My Review:

Having loved Rizzoli & Isles and Playing With Fire, I jumped at the chance to read her latest book The Shape of Night when Anne Cater of Random Things Tours asked me to be on the blogtour.  In fact I didn’t even look at the description or blurb of the book – just said yes and added it to my list of books to read for October.

It was only whilst attending a book festival and chatting to other bloggers that I found out The Shape of Night is quite different to her usual books and I was told to keep “an open mind” which is probably the best advice I can give to any reader.

This books starts off in the normal thriller way – our narrator is Ava.  An author of cook books and someone who is trying to escape her life and start again due to something that happened to her several months ago.  She is racked with guilt and is relying on alcohol to dull her feelings and emotions and it’s no spoiler to say that her dependence for the bottle is out of control.

To escape her past and concentrate on her future, in particular to finish her next book for her publishers which is a year overdue she decides to rent a house near the sea and that’s where Brodies Watch comes in.  A magnificent old, isolated mansion overlooking the sea and currently going through some renovations, Brodies Watch is so well described and atmospheric that you actually begin to see the house as a character in the story.

Once Ava moves into Brodies Watch things take an unexpected turn and I probably should warn you that if you are a prude you might not enjoy or expect what happens next!  Ava develops a fascination into the history of the house and especially Captain Jeremiah Brodie, the rugged (and randy) sea captain who built the house and died 150 years ago at sea.  Ava’s fascination with Captain Brodie obviously comes from her guilt and the amount of alcohol she consumes every day, but from this point on everything changes.

This book crosses many genres and I don’t want to give anything away – so be prepared for ghosts, murders, small town secrets, a narrator with an alcohol problem and severe feelings of guilt, some very, very steamy sex and quite a few mouth watering recipes!  Several other reviewers have compared it to a paranormal 50 Shades and all I can say is that it gives a new meaning to “things that go bump in the night”. #50SofC

Here’s a fascinating interview with Tess Gerritsen about The Shape of Night:

Q) Readers know you best for your Rizzoli & Isles series which inspired the hit TNT television series, but you’ve written several standalone novels including your latest, THE SHAPE OF NIGHT. What sets this new novel apart from some of your recent books?

A) It’s a psychological suspense novel with a dark and sexy twist: What if you found the perfect lover, but you’re not certain he’s real – or if he might end up killing you? Unlike my Rizzoli & Isles crime novels, which are focused on hard-boiled police investigations, SHAPE OF NIGHT is about a vulnerable woman who is very much alone and haunted by a secret shame. When she moves into an isolated mansion on the Maine coast, she begins to fear for her sanity – and her life – but she has no one to turn to. This thriller is told from a very personal, very intimate point of view.

Q) THE SHAPE OF NIGHT is an exciting blend of romance and suspense set in a haunted house where readers are left with the question: if you can’t trust your own eyes, what can you trust? Can you tell us a bit about the book’s inspiration?

A) My mother believed in ghosts. When she was a child growing up in war-torn China, she saw a number of ghosts, and my own childhood was filled with her stories (which she assured me were absolutely true) about the supernatural world. She belonged to a parapsychology society in San Diego, and we had a parade of unusual guests visiting our home, where séances were a regular occurrence. I recall one dinner guest who suddenly went into a trance over dessert and began to channel a thousand-year-old spirit. I grew up a confirmed skeptic, but I’ve never lost my fascination for ghost stories and I’ve always hoped for a glimpse of a ghost. Alas, I’ve never seen one.

Q) Did any movies/ TV Shows you watched help get you into the mindset to write such a different novel?

A) One of my favorite TV series as a kid was “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir,” starring Hope Lange. It’s about a widow who moves into an old house that’s haunted by a long-dead sea captain. Their romance is sweet and purely chaste, but as someone with a twisted imagination, I couldn’t help thinking: what if the story had a dark
and sexy twist? What if the sea captain’s house has a legacy of past murders, and what if my heroine (Ava) is haunted by a shocking secret of her own? Q) In addition to the great suspense, THE SHAPE OF NIGHT is such a romantic novel with a light touch of the paranormal—what inspired work in those genres as well? A) While I’m now known as a thriller writer, I began my writing career years ago as a romantic suspense author. I’ve never lost my love for that genre, which for a writer is a delicate balancing act between murder mystery and romance. I’ve wanted to dip my toes back in those waters, and SHAPE OF NIGHT gave me a chance to revisit the genre. It also brought back just how difficult it is to write.

Q) Your protagonist Ava is a cookbook writer and food features prominently throughout the novel. Why did you decide to weave in this element and where did you come up with the recipes?

A) My father worked as a cook in his family seafood restaurant in San Diego, so I had a childhood of great food and a deep appreciation for the art of cooking. I also know how much hard work goes into running a successful restaurant. My dad would be up at 5 AM to buy fresh fish from the boats, he’d spend all morning skinning and filleting it to serve at lunch, he’d continue cooking for the dinner service, and he’d roll home and into bed around midnight. He taught me that there are only a certain number of meals we can eat during a lifetime, so we should make every one worthwhile. Don’t waste your appetite on a bad meal. That’s very much Ava’s philosophy: to savor every meal, take pleasure in its anticipation, and be comforted by the rituals of the kitchen.

Q) THE SHAPE OF NIGHT is set in a small town in Maine and features a haunted house once owned by a local sea captain named Jeremiah Brodie. What is it about small town life that inspires your writing?

A) I live in a small Maine town, and I wouldn’t live anywhere else. I love the rhythm of the seasons, knowing that there’s a time for planting the garden and a time for hunkering down to await a snowstorm. In fact winter is when I work best, when the world outside is white and colorless, and I’m forced to bring forth color in my imagination. I also like the fact I can walk down Main Street and recognize at least a few people, and that I’ll often be called by name in the grocery store. I’m also inspired by small-town secrets. Our village is a microcosm of the larger world, with our own scandals and crimes, but also acts of true generosity. It’s like the world in miniature, with dramas acted out by people you just happen to know.

Q) There are several New England-specific locations noted throughout the book. Were any of these places pulled from your life in particular?

A) Tucker Cove is fictional (named in honor of a flamboyant Camden personality named Kay Tucker, sadly now deceased), but there are a few real locations such as Cape Elizabeth and some Boston neighborhoods. I try to avoid setting thrillers in real small towns (except in disguise) as I don’t want to upset my neighbors.

Q) What are you working on next?

A) A spy novel featuring older characters, an age group that’s too-often overlooked in fiction and TV. I love the idea of seasoned heroes and heroines who’ve long ago put away their weapons, but are now called back to service because, as it turns out, experience really does count.

My Thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part in the blogtour.  Don’t forget to check out these other bloggers and read their thoughts too:

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