8 Great Questions: Tess Gerritsen

The Rizzoli & Isles author shares her favorite books and the reason why she loves Middle Earth.

Tess Gerritsen

We love Tess Gerritsen because she gave us two of our favorite literary heroines: Detective Jane Rizzoli and Dr. Maura Isles. The Boston-based crime-solving duo (and the inspiration for TNT’s hit series) is back in Gerritsen’s new book I Know a Secret, tackling two seemingly unrelated murders with startlingly similar clues. While both women work the case, they are each distracted by their mothers, who require their attention in both innocent and nefarious ways. In anticipation of this next novel in the Rizzoli & Isles series (her twelfth!), we asked Tess to answer our eight great questions about the books she returns to again and again, the ones she gifts to others and the one book she tells everyone to read.


Featured illustration: Lorenzo Gritti; Author Photo: © Derek Henthorn

What’s the book on your bedside table?

This may sound wacky, but I (really) am reading a textbook called Wild Pigs in the United States by John J. Mayer and I. Lehr Brisbin, Jr. My son and I are making a documentary film about pigs, and feral swine is one of the topics we cover. Pigs are fascinating, intelligent animals that deserve far more respect than humans give them.

What’s the one book you tell everyone to read?

The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan. It is a gorgeously written book about the plant's-eye view of the natural world, and how we humans have interacted with them. Who knew that the history of apples could be so fascinating?

Name three characters from literature or authors (dead or alive) that you’d want in your ideal book club?

Sherlock Holmes (of course), although he'd probably annoy the hell out of me. Edgar Allan Poe, because I suspect he and I share the same dark sensibilities. And Julia Child, because food must always be talked about.

What word do you love and why? What word do you hate and why?

I love the word "infant." It stirs my maternal emotions and also carries a sense of possibility and beginnings. I very much dislike the word "deadline," because—well, you can guess.

What’s the one book you love to give as a gift and to whom do you give it?

There's no one particular book I give as a gift. I always tailor it to the person and the occasion. The last book I gave as a gift was Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly, to a friend whose mother was a mathematician in the same era.

What’s the one book you read as a kid that has stuck with you?

The Nancy Drew mystery series. Nancy was my heroine, and she inspired me to write crime novels.

What’s the one book that never fails to delight or inspire you?

J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings series. At the most stressful times of my life, I always drew such comfort and pleasure in revisiting Middle Earth.

If you could only read one genre for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

Nonfiction. I love picking up new information.

TESS GERRITSEN is a New York Times bestselling author who earned international acclaim for her first novel of suspense, Harvest. She introduced Detective Jane Rizzoli in The Surgeon (2001) and Dr. Maura Isles in The Apprentice (2002) and has gone on to write numerous other titles in the celebrated Rizzoli & Isles series, most recently The Mephisto Club, The Keepsake, Ice Cold, The Silent Girl, Last to Die, Die Again, and I Know a Secret. Her latest standalone novel is the thriller Playing with Fire. A physician, Tess Gerritsen lives in Maine.
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