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Book review: “Playing with Fire,” a captivating mystery

Shane Kinney/For Steamboat Pilot & Today
Playing with Fire, by Tess Gerritsen
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“Playing with Fire”

by Tess Gerritsen

“Playing with Fire,” by Tess Gerritsen, promises history and a bit of mystery, and from the first page, the story of Julia Ansdell, a violinist from America, captivated me.



The mystery of “Playing with Fire” revolves around an unknown piece of music, a waltz called “Incendio,” which Julia bought in an antique store while visiting Rome. Written in first-person, the vivid descriptions of this woman’s experiences in modern day Rome are well-written and attention-grabbing. So, with my imagination hooked, I couldn’t help but press on.

From the moment Julia ignites the sound from her violin strings, she thinks a hidden curse has sprung forward, a curse that spreads death, chaos and fear to all those in its surroundings, including Julia’s three year-old daughter.



Determined to understand the origin of “Incendio,” Julia returns to Italy, where the history of the piece grabs Julia and drags her down. The question is: Will her family be enough to save her, or will the ghosts and forgotten screams of the past drag her to their death in the forgotten chambers?

Just when all hope seems lost, the book shifts to the perspective of an Italian boy named Lorenzo, who lives in 1940s Italy. As Julia desperately searches for a solution to the chaos caused by “Incendio,” these two characters fall into a never-ending spiral that gives this book the page-turner credit it deserves.

As I fell victim to the curse, trying to figure out the source of the turmoil in the novel, I couldn’t stop myself from finishing the book within a few nights. As I turned the final page, I felt the strings of emotion within me reverberate against the bow of an unknown soul. The call it made to me was a story begging to be read.

You’ll have to read “Playing with Fire” to find out how it ends. This novel will be released Tuesday, so drop by Off the Beaten Path and pick up a copy. I would love to hear your opinion and talk about the book with you.

Until then, keep enjoying the simple things; you never know when they’re going to change.

Shane Kinney is a bookseller at Off the Beaten Path.


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