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Reading Between the lines with Britt:

Rizzoli and Isles: Books or Show?

By Brit Nnyaard
On January 17, 2012

For those of you acquainted with TNT's original series Rizzoli and Isles, Tess Gerritsen may be a familiar name. Gerritsen, a doctor turned writer, created the book series on which the TNT series is based.

I turned to Gerritsen's books over Christmas break when the second season of Rizzoli and Isles ended, leaving me feeling forlorn and desperate for more episodes not due to air on TV until summer. Expecting a similar story line to  that of the TNT show, I could  not have been more surprised with what I got. I picked up The Surgeon, the first book in the Rizzoli and Isles series,  expecting the comic relationship of Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles to jump off the page. However, not only was Maura not even in The Surgeon, Jane was far from the Jane I had come to love. In the TNT version, homicide detective Jane Rizzoli is a hard hitting, take-no-crap cop with a heart of gold who puts up with her crazy family with a finesse most of us wish we had when dealing with our own sometimes psychotic parents. But in the book series, Rizzoli, while still a homicide cop, comes from a family who fails to see her value as a female cop or her skills, which makes her bitter and often hard to work with in an all-male homicide division. Maura Isles is not the only beloved character missing from the book series. Sergeant Vince Korsak does not appear until the second book in the series, The Apprentice, and even then is barely recognizable as the teddy bear cop from the TNT show. Detective Barry Frost is in the book series from the beginning. However, his character is also extremely different from book to show. While the show is generally light-hearted and comical, even as it delves into the often depressing subject of murder, The Surgeon had none of the banter and wit characteristic of the television series. Instead, the plot was dark and foreboding, telling the tale of a serial killer bound on revenge who tortures and kills rape victims and then removes their uteruses. Not exactly great bedtime reading. Being a fan of the classic puzzle mystery, I could not help but be disappointed by the lack of  mystery to discover. Instead, I got a medical thriller that was at once far too technical and far too simple. Gerritsen spends a great deal of time on the medical and forensic aspects of crime solving, often using words and discussing procedures that are all but incomprehensible to the average reader,  while at the same time developing stereotypical characters and a slow-moving plot. I will admit, as much as I disliked The Surgeon, I was desperate enough to read the second book in the series, The Apprentice. It was an improvement, but not much of one. Bottom line? Even if, like me, you generally find the book to be better than the movie, this is the anomaly. As far as Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles are concerned, skip the books and watch the show


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