Julia Ansdell is in Rome for a gig as a violinist when she wanders into a picturesque antique shop. She finds a piece of music that just speaks to her and she cannot leave the Incendio waltz behind. The weird things start to happen once she returns home to her husband and young daughter, Lily. Her precious three year old reacts violently when Julia plays the Incendio Waltz and kills the family cat. When Lily gets progressively more dangerous Julia knows that her behavior is somehow tied to the dark piece of music, but she cannot seem to convince her husband. Julia decides to seek out the history of the musical masterpiece and against her husband's wishes she is off across the pond. The composition's origins take her back to Europe where she discovers the piece's roots are tied to horrific events that took place during World War II. But does that prove the Incedio waltz is haunted? Can a piece of music even be haunted? Julia isn't sure, but she is sure of one thing. She needs to find out the truth before her daughter's life is ruined forever.
In Playing with Fire author Tess Gerritsen takes a break from her faithful duo, Rizzoli and Isles. There are two stories being told in Playing with Fire; Julia's story in present day and Lorenzo Todesco's story during World War II. Todesco is the Italian Jew who wrote the Incedio Waltz. The back and forth in the decades gave us the complete story, but I found myself losing interest. Of the two, I found Julia to be an interesting character , the kind that enjoys walking through dusty old shops in Rome. But, I knew something wasn't right when her daughter starts behaving all crazy-like, but I wasn't sure how far it would go. Her frustrations with her husband and aunt were palpable and completely understandable. I started to suspect something was off when she took off for Europe against her husband's wishes. There is a "plot twist" at the end that may leave you speechless. I am still not sure if was pure genius or pure cop-out. Either way it still has me thinking about the end.
Bottom line - Tess Gerritsen has built such a loyal following with Rizzoli & Isles that her fans are willing to read anything she writes. Playing with Fire may be a deviation from her beloved characters, but it is a high quality mystery novel that is guaranteed to hook you.