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I Know a Secret (Rizzoli & Isles #12)
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0345543882 (ISBN13: 9780345543882)
In the twelfth gripping novel featuring Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles, the crime-solving duo—featured in the smash-hit TNT series Rizzoli & Isles—are faced with the gruesomely staged murder of a horror film producer.
The crime scene is unlike any that Detective Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles have ever before encountered. The woman lies in apparently peaceful repose on her bed, and Maura finds no apparent cause of death, but there is no doubt the woman is indeed dead. The victim’s eyes have been removed and placed in the palm of her hand, a gesture that echoes the terrifying films she produces. Is a crazed movie fan reenacting scenes from those disturbing films?
When another victim is found, again with no apparent cause of death, again with a grotesquely staged crime scene, Jane and Maura realize the killer has widened his circle of targets. He’s chosen one particular woman for his next victim, and she knows he’s coming for her next. She’s the only one who can help Jane and Maura catch the killer.
But she knows a secret. And it’s a secret she’ll never tell.
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WHEN I WAS seven years old, I learned how important it is to cry at funerals. On that particular summer day, the man lying in the coffin was my great uncle Orson, who was most memorable for his foul-smelling cigars and his stinky breath and his unabashed farting. While he was alive, he pretty much ignored me, the way I’d ignored him, so I was not in the least bit grief-stricken by his death. I did not see why I should have to attend his funeral, but that is not a choice seven-year-olds are allowed to make. And so that day I found myself squirming on a church pew, bored and sweating in a black dress, wondering why I couldn’t have stayed home with Daddy, who had flat-out refused to come. Daddy said he’d be a hypocrite if he pretended to grieve for a man he despised. I didn’t know what that word, hypocrite, meant, but I knew I didn’t want to be one either. Yet there I was, wedged between my mother and Aunt Sylvia, forced to listen to an endless parade of people offering insipid praise for the unremarkable Uncle Orson. A proudly independent man! He was passionate about his hobbies! How he loved his stamp collection!
No one mentioned his bad breath.
I amused myself through the endless memorial service by studying the heads of the people in the pew in front of us. I noticed that Aunt Donna’s hat was dusted with white dandruff, that Uncle Charlie had dozed off and his toupee had slipped askew. It looked like a brown rat trying to crawl down the side of his head. I did what any normal seven-year-old girl would do.
I burst out laughing.
The reaction was immediate. People turned and frowned at me. My mortified mother sank five sharp fingernails into my arm and hissed, “Stop it!”
“But his hair’s fallen off! It looks like a rat!”
Her fingernails dug deeper. “We will discuss this later, Holly.”
At home, there was no discussion. Instead, there was shouting and a slap on the face, and that’s how I learned what constituted appropriate funeral behavior. I learned that one must be somber and silent and that, sometimes, tears are expected.
Four years later, at my mother’s funeral, I made a point of noisily shedding copious tears because that was what everyone expected of me.
But today, at the funeral of Sarah Basterash, I’m not certain whether anyone expects me to cry. It’s been more than a decade since I last saw the girl I knew in school as Sarah Byrne. We were never close, so I can’t really say that I mourn her passing. In truth, I’ve come to her funeral in Newport only out of curiosity. I want to know how she died. I need to know how she died. Such a terrible tragedy is what everyone in the church is murmuring around me. Her husband was out of town, Sarah had a few drinks, and she fell asleep with a candle burning on her nightstand. The fire that killed her was merely an accident. That, at least, is what everyone says.
It’s what I want to believe.
The little church in Newport is packed to capacity, filled with all the friends that Sarah made in her short life, most of whom I’ve never met. Nor have I met her husband, Kevin, who under happier circumstances would be quite an attractive man, someone I might make a play for, but today he looks genuinely broken. Is this what grief does to you?
I turn to survey the church, and I spot an old high school classmate named Kathy sitting behind me, her face blotchy, her mascara smeared from crying. Almost all the women and many of the men are crying, because a soprano is singing that old Quaker hymn “Simple Gifts,” and that always seems to bring on the tears. For an instant, Kathy and I lock gazes, hers brimming and wet, mine cool and dry-eyed. I’ve changed so much since high school that I can’t imagine she recognizes me, yet her gaze is transfixed and she keeps staring at me as if she’s spotted a ghost.
I turn and face forward again.
By the time “Simple Gifts” is over, I too have managed to produce tears, just like everyone else.
I join the long line of mourners to pay my last respects, and as I file past the closed coffin, I study Sarah’s photograph, which is displayed on an easel. She was only twenty-six, four years younger than I am, and in the photo she is dewy and pink-cheeked and smiling, the same pretty blonde I remember from our school days, when I was the girl no one noticed, the phantom who lurked in the periphery. Now here I am, my skin still flush with life, while Sarah, pretty little Sarah, is nothing but charred bones in a box. I’m sure that’s what everyone thinks as they look at the image of Sarah Before the Fire; they see the smiling face in the photo and imagine scorched flesh and blackened skull.