I enjoyed this novel for the most part. I appreciate the archeology and science angles that Gerritsen incorporates into the novel. These historical / scientific elements are interesting and, while I'm no expert, appear to be well researched. Who doesn't want to know how to make a mummy or shrink someone's head?
Unfortunately, these elements are really just window dressing for a pretty standard 'obsessive stalker turned serial killer' tale. The object of a killer's obsession is driven into hiding with her young daughter. Years later, the daughter, now fully grown and working in an obscure Boston museum, finds herself the object of a killer's obsession and the body count rises - except the victims were all killed decades earlier, their bodies preserved in bizarre ways. The bog bodies, shrunken heads, and mummy's that are found add an intriguing element when they are first introduced, but about mid way through the novel, these elements are largely abandoned as the traditional cat and mouse game plays itself out. I would have liked to have seen these elements integrated into the story in a less superficial way - but, at least they were there.
I found the characterization a little light. As can always be expected with series novels, a certain amount of time must be devoted to update regular readers on the personal lives of central characters. The ME's doomed romance with a priest had no bearing on anything else and is touched on so briefly it barely seemed worth mentioning. Thankfully, the author does show restraint here as well, avoiding the inevitable tendency most series authors have to fill their novels with the mundane details of a character's personal life.
The plot had the requisite twists and turns, all of which can be anticipated by veterans of crime fiction. I had actually anticipated a few extra twists that didn't come to fruition, something that arguably showed admirable restraint on the author's part. I did find that when the pieces all came together, not all of them fit very well. There are a few holes in the plot that I think the author probably could have addressed with small changes to the story. The plotting just wasn't as tight as it could have been.
Despite the fact that I sound like I didn't like this novel, the truth is, I found it pretty entertaining. Mostly I think I just see how much better it could have been. How the characters could be fleshed out a little more, how the plot could have been tighter, and how the archeology elements could have been integrated more fully into the story. I think this could have been an excellent novel, and instead Gerritsen opted to play it safe.
To play on the archeology theme: I think she could have dug a lot deeper and discovered something remarkable. 3 1/2 stars.