But even those who have never heard of Gerritsen’s novels about Boston police detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles will find much to like in this gripping, well-plotted and intelligent crime drama.
Rizzoli & Isles launches Monday, July 12, at 10 p.m. (Eastern and Pacific time; 9 p.m. Central time).
Unlike most of the crime dramas on TNT that rely on the characters’ eccentricities to add texture to the plots, Rizzoli & Isles is a straight-ahead, serious cop show.
The focus here is on the crime detection that springs from the working relationship between the cops and the medical examiner’s office. Rizzoli & Isles sparingly uses humor, springing from the characters’ witty and smart conversations.
Rizzoli & Isles is an adult crime drama that is more like Law & Order – without the endless reruns.
The first two episodes I screened feature well-devised plots that are realistic and intriguing. Some scenes are a bit graphic, but actually are quite tame when compared with some of the current network crime shows such as the CSI’s, Criminal Minds and the Law & Order franchise.
And the analogy to Law & Order has some merit. Rizzoli is played by Angie Harmon, who played Law & Order’s assistant district attorney Abbie Carmichael from 1998-2001 and was, for my money, the best ADA the show ever had. Harmon is an intelligent actress who always brings a degree of sophistication to her roles. Those high standards continue in her role as the independent Rizzoli.
Sasha Alexander also brings a sense of refinement to her role as Isles. Alexander is best known for her role as Special Agent Caitlin “Kate” Todd in the first two seasons of the drama NCIS. She also was a regular on Dawson’s Creek, Presidio Med and The Nine.
The friendship and respect that Rizzoli and Isles have for each other will be a major part of the series, as it is in the novels.
The two women are the ying and yang – Rizzoli with her close-knit Italian roots and Isles with her blue-blood background. Isles is always impeccably dressed while Rizzoli is more comfortable in torn jeans and isn’t bothered by a dirty shirt. Both women are intelligent and know the value of deep friendships. Their respect for each other won’t preclude them from having disagreements.
Rizzoli & Isles also features Lee Thompson Young as Rizzoli’s new partner Det. Barry Frost; Lorraine Bracco in a throw-away role as Jane’s mother, Angie Rizzoli; and Bruce McGill as Rizzoli’s former partner and now mentor Det. Vince Korsak. (For trivia buffs, McGill’s played D-Day in National Lampoon’s Animal House, one of my favorite movies.)
Here’s hoping that Rizzoli & Isles runs for years; and that it draws new readers to Gerritsen’s novels.
Rizzoli & Isles begins on TNT at Monday, July 12, at 10 p.m. (Eastern and Pacific time; 9 p.m. Central time) following the sixth-season premiere of The Closer.
The audience was fairly mixed with men and woman, of all ages; fans who had come to hear Crais talk about Elvis Cole, Joe Pike and his latest novel, The First Rule.
But during the question and answer session, a man in his mid-thirties made a comment that almost got him thrown out of the bookstore.
“I didn’t expect to see all these old people here,” said the man who was clearly a fan. “I thought it would be more people my age and more guys. I always thought you wrote young.”
Crais does write young. And Elvis and Joe do appeal to a young audience. They also appeal to a middle-aged audience, retirees and, well, just about anyone who can read.
I bring up this age issue because it is a factor in the cover profile of Michael Koryta in the latest Mystery Scene, No. 115. Kevin Burton Smith captures Koryta so well.
At age 27, Koryta is among the youngest of crime fiction authors. That he started his career at age 21 with the excellent Tonight I Said Goodbye is pretty amazing.
Yeah, he’s a whiz kid, all right.
But more importantly, he is an excellent writer. And the only reason his age should made a difference or even be a factor is it means that readers will have more years of enjoyment from his novels.
We’ve already had a good taste of Koryta’s talent. His stand-alone novel Envy the Night won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. (Full disclosure, I was one of the judges that year.)
One of the constants about crime fiction is that age, sex, race, sexual orientation and locale matter little to readers.
What crime fiction readers care about – and all they should care about – is if the story grabs them, if the characters are believable, the action realistic or, if it’s not realistic, at least makes them want to go along for the ride.
Mystery readers are sophisticated and are willing to follow an author just about anywhere if the story is worth it.
Sure, Koryta is young.
But he isn’t the only author to start early and continue to write intriguing crime fiction.
Greg Rucka was 27 when Finder was published. Dennis Lehane was 29 when A Drink Before the War came out. Tom Rob Smith was 29 when Child 44 was published.
Michael Connelly was 35 when Black Echo hit the stores, the same age as Dashiell Hammett when Red Harvest was published.
And Lawrence Block was just 23 when his first novel was published; by the time his first Matthew Scudder novel, The Sins of the Fathers, came in 1976, Block was 38 years old.
Good storytelling is ageless.