Internationally bestselling author Tess Gerritsen appeared at last night to introduce her new thriller, The Silent Girl. Gerritsen, a medical doctor turned writer, held the audience’s attention with a wide-ranging talk that moved from corpses discovered to be alive to how she came to write her latest novel.
About 50 people attended the event, many of them long-time fans of Gerritsen.
Lisa Disario of Norwood sat waiting for the author’s appearance with two of Gerritsen’s books on her lap. Disario said she was never much of a reader until she discovered Tess Gerritsen.
“I work at a hospital and I love medical stuff,” Disario said. “She has very specific anatomy and physical detail, and I find that fascinating. They’re addicting.”
“She writes a little bit like Hemingway. Not very verbose,” said Gerald Heng, who works for Asian American Radio in Boston’s Chinatown.
Gerritsen is best known for her Rizzoli & Isles series, featuring a Boston detective named Jane Rizzoli and a medical examiner named Maura Isles. The books have spun off a popular TNT series, Rizzoli & Isles, starring Angie Harmon. The show’s second season began airing this week.
The author’s latest book, The Silent Girl, is the ninth installment in the Rizzoli & Isles series, but is also a departure from the others in that it delves into slightly more autobiographical territory for the Chinese-American author.
“It’s from my own experience, and a book I’ve been wanting to write for a long time,” Gerritsen said.
It is set in Boston’s Chinatown and features the legend of the Monkey King, a well-known Asian demi-god who is good at heart but also mischievous. Gerritsen grew up hearing about the Monkey King from her mother.
Also featured in the story is a well-known personality in the real world of Boston’s Chinatown: Grandmaster Bow Sim Mark, who introduced Chinese-style martial arts to the Boston area, and is a local legend.
“I wanted to use her as a model for the character Iris Fang,” Gerritsen said, noting only a couple of differences. “Fang is 55 years old and very sexy. We need more sexy 55-year-old women in books.”
The novel also includes a new character, Johnny Tam, a Chinatown detective who represents Gerritsen’s observations of the Asian-American experience.
After her talk, Gerritsen took questions. One audience member asked if she had discovered any good dumping grounds in town, referring to one of the author’s previous books.
“I haven’t found any dumping grounds in Framingham, but you have a lot of wide open spaces,” Gerritsen said, smiling.
Later, a long line formed as Gerritsen signed books and chatted with fans. She also gave away a few Rizzoli & Isles t-shirts through a raffle.
While waiting for news of the raffle, Alice Krieder of Newton said, “I loved it that she really went into where she gets her ideas from, to really get into the details instead of just reading from the book. This was very interesting. I love what she did. It really gives a feel for her as an author.”
Nancy Bland of Bellingham was thrilled to win one of the t-shirts, having read all of Gerritsen’s books. “Oh, I love them,” she said. “I actually have some of her Harlequins. I think I have some of her earliest work. She’s awesome.”