In a masterful standalone thriller by New York Times bestselling author of the Rizzoli&Isles series, Tess Gerritsen, a mother is haunted by a very old piece of music she finds in a strange antique shop in Rome.
The first time violinist Julia Ansdell picked up the "Incendio Waltz" in a darkened antique shop in Rome, she knew it was a strikingly unusual composition. The minor key and complex feverish arpeggios have a life of their own. But when she plays the piece, Julia blacks out and awakens to find her small daughter implicated in acts of surprising violence. When she travels to Venice to find the previous owner of the music, she uncovers a heart-stoppingly dark secret that not only dates back to the horrors of the Holocaust, but also directly involves a dangerously powerful family who would stop at nothing to keep Julia from bringing the truth to light.
©2015 Tess Gerritsen (P)2015 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved.
This is the second book in a row I’ve read that has dual story lines whose tone and atmosphere clash with each other as if written by separate authors. In this case, a current day story focuses on a haunting piece of music that appears to have near magical sway over some who hear it, leading to unexplained violent acts. Violinist Julia’s attempts to find the music’s secrets cause those closest to her to suspect her of being insane. The behavior of the principal players did not seem genuine, especially Julia’s husband, and the plot devices that tried to rationalize the behavior just muddied up the story.
The second story line takes us to WWII Italy and the composer of the music. His story is familiar to anyone who has read any Holocaust stories. It is moving as all such stories are moving, but there is nothing here to make this story unique.
Forcing these two threads together was a stretch that never really made a convincing connection. The narration was just ok. Julia Whelan was unfortunately horrible at character voices, especially any male voice. Will Damron was better, but his female voices were also lacking, though not as egregious as his female counterpart. I’ll give this a 3 since I was able to finish it and the ending was satisfactory. What probably lifted this up the most was the inclusion of musical interludes and at the end a full performance of the music in the story – I wish I knew who wrote it because it really is lovely.
"Gripping, haunting and exquisitely delivered."
A mystery turned thriller as well as a tale about love and the passion and power of music, the story takes place both in current day America and in Italy and during the years in Italy, WW II.
While on tour in Italy, a young woman, wife, mother and professional violinist, purchases an old book of gypsy melodies and finds an original, unpublished, hand written composition. The events which follow are entwined throughout with the story of the young Jewish composer. This book gripped me within the first chapter and did not let go. The audio version is a must-have. The background insertions of the violin music had me captured throughout, yearning to hear more. Long after the last word was spoken and the last note played I stayed in the story. It held me captive.It will be awhile before this tale relaxes it's hold over me.
"Coulda Been Better"
Not a bad read, but an average one, especially given the quality of the author's other stand alones... The historical look backs are the best part of the book, and possibly saves the whole w/ an excellent and rich little bit of storytelling... The contemporary sections were so so and felt uneven... The ending was better and had an unexpected little twist that was deftly done... The narration was good enough, but the female narrator did a poor male voice and should have stuck w/ speaking in her own voice... Decent enough quick easy read, but just...
"Playing with Fire"
I have a habit of picking up books of my favorite authors without reading the description. So with that in mind I assume this was another Rizzoli and Isles book. It took a few chapters before I realized what I was reading was a stand alone book. I must say I enjoyed it enormously! Very lovely book. I would encourage others to read it even if they are not fans of the R&I series. The mix of music and history was enchanting.
"Beautiful and heartbreaking story"
This is not Tess Gerritsen's typical Rizzoli & Isles detective mystery; indeed, it's totally different from Rizzoli and Isles. In Playing with Fire Gerritsen weaves together through the use of a music piece ("Fire") events in fascist Italy leading up to and during WWII and a woman and her family in the present day US. It is a masterfully told story.
I almost stopped listening to Playing with Fire after two hours because it seemed to make no sense. I'm happy I continued listening.
"Beautiful - Haunting - Suspenseful"
I loved this book and thought that it was beautifully written and narrated.
Woven between the present and the past, it was intriguing to listen to and difficult to leave once it ended. Moreover, the fact that it was essentially historical fiction with an overarching musical foundation, accompanied by the prominent presence of the tragic and horrific mistreatment of Italian Jews during WW II made it even more compelling. For me, the true test of what makes a book a five star read is that I can't wait to reach the ending but am very depressed when I do because it means that I'm no longer a part of the characters' lives.
I highly recommend "Playing with Fire", especially for classical music lovers, lovers of intrigue, as well as lovers of historical fiction, particularly the Holocaust.
"Playing With Fire (Can be hard for some to handle)"
Now this is something everyone should read!! What an amazing, true and horrible ( because humanity can be so cruel) adventure!! Couldn't put this one down, couldn't stop listening!!
I couldn't figure out how Tess Gerritsen would meld the main story into the back story OR was it the back story (the main story) into the present !!
I don't usually like music or other sounds in the narration, but this was done very, very well!! Loved the music at the end!!
Ironic that my son is also going to New England Conservatory of Music (Bass)
Narration was excellent!
I'm a fan of Gerritsen. This story has touched me, as a Jew and as a music lover. Thank you, Tess, for writing both.
Yes, the narration was very good.
The flashbacks to the 1940s and the lives of the Jews in Italy.
Emotion of the moment.
I love Tess Gerritsen's books ... and this is one of the best she has written!
"Playing With Fire"
Written by Tess Gerritsen, narrated by Julia Whelan and Will Damron, an unabridged audiobook approximately seven hours long. This book came to me via an Audible Daily Deal which I jumped into based on previous Gerritsen books that I’ve enjoyed reading.
Playing With Fire has many, many reviews - ergo I’ll skip plot synopsis which you will easily find elsewhere.
Why I liked this book? Well, it is a heart-wrenching story of the holocaust, vividly descriptive in areas. If you’re squeamish about what took place in the camps during WWII this book isn’t for you - it’s pretty explicit. The audio production is superb, great narration, excellent with regard to the violin solos. I’ve no doubt that listening to Playing With Fire is much more satisfying than an ebook read. Very good audio production. Transitions between modern day and the war years is very smooth, nicely done.
Complaints? Not many, but a few. The book is only seven hours in length, ergo room enough for Gerritsen to flesh out the ending to a more satisfying conclusion. It seemed like efforts were being made to pull all the loose ends together quickly and wrap things up — and the story suffers as a result. Playing With Fire is really great tale that falls apart with a too-neat-and-tidy finish. Second complaint, believability with regard to the behavior of the main character. You’ll have to stretch imagination if you want to buy into her ‘black outs’ … but, hey … it’s fiction. For me this creates a dichotomy that pulls legitimacy from the rest of the book - the holocaust was very real.
Overall, Playing With Fire is recommended - especially in the audiobook format - with an ending you may find rushed and disappointing. A haunting and sad story, well narrated.
"Reaching Some Higher Grace Notes."
I’m not quite sure why I chose this book as my first from Tess Gerritsen but I am genuinely glad that I did. This is a beautiful story split between the present day and the troubled city of Venice during the second world war. It is a haunting story centered around a tragic piece of music written by a young Jewish composer. The dual narration works very well to set the atmosphere and Gerritsen’s efficient prose moves the two stories along at a brisk pace with no padding or tangents.
The two strands are beautifully woven together and drawn to a conclusion that pulls few punches. There is no attempt to sugar coat the horrors that the Jewish people suffered which gives the story a genuine power and gravitas that could easily have been missed. This is a moving book; a tale of modern life and how it can never really escape the past that formed it. Gerritsen has done the research and produced a thoroughly satisfying tale that fits well within the events of history. No simple task with such sensitive subject matter.
another smashing gerritsen book! havent read one i haven't liked yet! waiting for tge next book already!
"Playing with fire"
An absolutely superb story brilliant ending as you would expect from this author. A must read/listen
"Tess , one of THE best ever story tellers"
Very easy to listen to, well read.
As always with Tess Gerritsen , the twists and turns within the story as an whole.
The realisation of the truth of her daughter.
As you may have gathered. I'm a huge Gerritsen fan. All her books are page turners , and in the case of audio , makes long drives awesome..( I listen in the car )
"Good book, but lacked the triller touch"
Good book, but lacked the triller touch, could have developed the story better . But worth it.
I have listened to several duff books recently and it was really wonderful to find this one. It was really compelling, so that I found myself thinking about it between listens and keen to find any opportunity to listen to more. It was sensitively told in a attention holding way. It kept me guessing as to how it would turn out and it did not disappoint.
A very moving book, totally different from her usual style. Heart breaking and warming at the same time.
"playing with fire"
this is the first audio book l have listened to . a differ.nt story from Tess gerritsen. heartfelt and
difficult to stop listening to. I beautifully read.
So hard not to listen to book all in one go , emotional loving caring and nail bitting. Found myself so in grossed hard not to listen to book every spare minute. Extremely well written and narrated.
"a moving read"
Fantastic narrators and story. highly recommended! portrayal of characters was vivid and so real plus historical notes useful at end.
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