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Playing with Fire

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  17,553 ratings  ·  2,273 reviews
A beautiful violinist is haunted by a very old piece of music she finds in a strange antique shop in Rome.

The first time Julia Ansdell picks up The Incendio Waltz, she knows it’s a strikingly unusual composition. But while playing the piece, Julia blacks out and awakens to find her young daughter implicated in acts of surprising violence. And when she travels to Venice to
Hardcover, 250 pages
Published October 27th 2015 by Ballantine Books
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Average rating 3.91  · 
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 ·  17,553 ratings  ·  2,273 reviews

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Jennifer Masterson
All The Stars for "Playing With Fire"!!! I absolutely loved this book! Major feels! I was still crying during the author's note. I listened to the audio version. Julia Whelan is the narrator of one of the two points of view. She is my absolute favorite narrator. There are two storylines going on in this novel. The historical fiction aspect is a complete 5! The other storyline was a mystery and that was a 4.5 for me. Although I didn't figure the mystery part out so I'm giving this novel in total ...more
Oct 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
If you're looking for a book written in the Rizzoli & Isles style, then this isn't what you're gonna get with this one. This standalone by Tess Gerritsen though IS very good. It follows the lives of Julia, a musician in the present day, and Lorenzo during WWII. Julia plays in a quartet, and after a concert in Rome, she visits an antique shop and discovers an old piece of sheet music scribbled in pencil. The music, entitled 'Incendio' by L. Todesco, intrigues her, and she just has to buy it. The ...more
“Playing With Fire” is the latest novel, a standalone thriller, by Tess Gerritsen, a physician living in Maine. Most of us are familiar with the Rizzoli & Isles series, by this New York Times bestselling author. I must say that this is a change in style for the author, from her previous series, but it works well as she is a master storyteller.

I would like to thank Net Galley and Random House Ballantine books for supplying me with a copy of the latest Tess Gerritsen novel in exchange for an hones
Jul 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Dem by: Jennifer Masterson
Shelves: favorites
"Pure indulgence"

Playing with Fire a Novel by Tess Gerristen was a beautiful, fast paced and extremely satisifying read.

This is historical fiction at its best, it's a fiction story set in the past but with some historical facts and figures to keep the reader educated and interested.

I would never have picked up this novel if I hadn't recently read a compelling review by a Goodread's friend who left me in no doubt that I needed to read this novel. So happy I took her advice as this was pure ind
Diane S ☔
Jun 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When Julie finds a strange piece of music inside a book of gypsy music that she buys from a small antique store in Rome, she finds her life irrevocably changed. Trying to play the piece on her violin she is struck by how powerful the music is, seems almost to have a mind of it own and whose high pitched sound seems to cause her three year old daughter to commit violent acts. Trying to trace where the music came from will take her to Venice and the past and pit her against a powerful family that ...more
May 10, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
In a break from her mystery novels, Gerritsen offers up a unique story that blends music with history to produce a chilling narrative that will touch readers at their core. While on a trip to Italy, violinist Julia Ansdell finds a unique and unpublished piece that piques her interest, in Incendio waltz. Upon her return to Boston, she begins to unravel its mysteries by playing it, or at least trying to do so. Each time she begins, the haunting dissonant tones seem to evoke disturbing results in J ...more
Jul 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I would like to thank Net Galley and Random House Ballantine books for supplying me with a forward copy of the latest Tess Gerritsen novel in exchange for a honest review.
This was so easy, I love this authors writing anyway but the book appealed to me from the write up and once I started it I couldn't put it down. Of the 100 books I have already read this year I would have to say this one is right up at the top and that is a big statement considering the standard of the books.
The book is excelle
Probably unfair of me to star this simply because I’m not the kind of reader it was written for. I don’t like novels that want to rush you through them to the end, to the point where you’re almost skim reading in your excitement to know what happens next. I prefer it when a novel is like a love letter – you savour every sentence while still feeling swept up in the excitement of reading on. That’s what a page turner is for me. I like a writer to walk me through the world she has created, not spee ...more
Cathrine ☯️
Mar 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: group-challenge
As other reviews have noted, readers who enjoyed books like Sarah's Key will take this one to heart. Using a mysterious piece of music as a bridge to connect a family from the past to one in the present, it moved swiftly and kept my interest from start to finish. Was it a coincidence that the pages numbered about the same as those memorialized on a plaque in Venice that inspired this story? History and mystery combined with just the right amount of chilling malevolence resulted in a moving, in
Feb 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
I am rating this book based on how I felt at the end, not how I was feeling during the first half! To be honest I started reading and was instantly intrigued by the situation with three year old Lily. Then we switched to the past and Lorenzo's story and my interest quickly flagged. Maybe the contrast was too great, maybe here was too little tying the two stories together. I found it easy to put the book down and do other things.
Thankfully I picked it up again later and persisted because once Jul
Carole (Carole's Random Life)
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life.

When I saw that Tess Gerritsen had a new stand alone novel being released, I jumped at the chance to read it. This ended up being a book that is really hard for me to rate. Tess Gerritsen definitely knows how to write and I liked a lot of things about this book. Unfortunately, there were some things that I didn't like about this book as well. I think that the experience of reading this book ended up being just okay for me.

The story really ho
Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*
EXCERPT: I haven't looked at this music since the day I bought it in Rome. Now, as I clip the page to the stand, I think of that gloomy antiques shop, and the proprietor, lurking like some cave creature in the alcove. Goose bumps suddenly stipple my skin, as if the chill of the shop still clings to this music.

I pick up my violin and begin to play.

On this humid afternoon, my instrument sounds deeper, richer than ever, the tone mellow and warm. The first thirty-two bars of the waltz are as beaut
4 blazing ★s for this one. Julia is a violinist, travelling in Italy after playing at a festival and now looking for something to take home to remind her of her trip. She carries her prized violin in a case strapped to her back for safekeeping. She's not your garden variety muso.

In the window of a gloomy antique shop where she smells "the scent of old books, a perfume of crumbling pages and time-worn leather", she spots a disintegrating book of music with the word "Gipsy" on the front and th
Oct 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a standalone read, and one which is absolutely gripping. I didn’t want to put it down. When violinist Julia Ansdell finds an unpublished manuscript for a waltz in an antiques shop in Rome, she has no idea that she has stumbled upon a piece of music that will quite literally prove haunting and hypnotic.

There are two timelines to the story, modern day events surrounding Julia interspersed with the story of Lorenzo, the composer of the piece which span back in time to just before and during
Sep 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars!
Okay, there was absolutely no way I saw that ending coming. I'm like looking down at my Kindle and it's teling me less than an hour left to go and we still don't know why her precious little daughter is going into those seizures, fits, or whatever.

This was one creepy book. You've got a three year old beautiful little daughter who kills the cat. Just doesn't stab him once, but stabs him three times? Is this the making of a psycho or just a coincidence? Then a few days later, she's stabb
Alex is The Romance Fox
Playing with Fire by Tess Gerritsen is her newest standalone novel.

The plot is quite unique alternating between past and present times and in some way the story reminded me of one of my favorite books, Letters from the Lost by Iona Grey,

The story opens with violinist Julia Ansdell purchasing an old music book from an antique shop in Rome. Inside the book, she discovers a loose sheet of paper that has a handwritten waltz by someone named L. Todesco.

Patrice Hoffman
Aug 23, 2015 rated it it was ok
I'm hovering my mouse over the 2 and 3- star rating. I usually love any and everything Tess Gerritsen writes. Her Rizzoli and Isles series is one of my favorites. When I got word that she had written a standalone, I was beyond excited to get my hands on a copy.

Playing with Fire alters between the stories of Julia and Lorenzo. The only thing these two have in common is their love of music and a musical composition by the name of Incendio. While in Italy, Julia Ansdell finds an enchanting, yet co
Sep 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book was really multi-faceted in so many ways. It touches on a deep parental concern/nightmare, a marriage on the brink, friendship, musical talent, medical breakthroughs, an international mix, and an arc into a historical time period of tragedy. Now that covers a lot of ground.

Julia Ansdell, a violinist, is drawn into a tiny antique shop on a winding street in Venice. She is in search of a book that may beckon to her musical background as a memento of her trip. During the purchase, a delic
Julia Ansdell was window shopping in the streets of Rome before heading back home to America after a successful few days with her choir. A talented violinist, she had already purchased gifts for her husband Rob and three year old daughter Lily – now she would love something special for herself. And when she spotted a very old antique shop she was drawn to it – she saw what she wanted in the window. The old book was filled with beautiful musical pieces on each page; as she gently opened it, a pie ...more
Sarah Elizabeth
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Random House UK, Transworld Publishers and NetGalley.)

“Our daughter is trying to kill me. I’m not the one who needs therapy.”

I was quite disappointed by this story.

I felt quite sorry for Julia, having your 3-year-old try to kill you would be really quite disturbing, and having nobody believe you would be infuriating too! She did sound a little nuts when she was telling people that her toddle
Sep 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
Alternating between two storylines, Playing with Fire is part historical fiction - part current day thriller. The story revolves around a piece of music, Incendio, which was bought in an antique store in Rome.
The author actually wrote this piece of music, which came to her in a dream while writing the novel. It can be heard on Gerritsen's website.
It was a very enjoyable read. This book is a standalone, but I am now interested in the series the author has written. She seems amazingly gifted as a
Althea Ann
Nov 17, 2015 rated it it was ok
Well, sometimes I get curious about these big, bestselling authors. I knew that Tess Gerritsen is a big name, and the blurb for this book sounded right up my alley: music, antique shops, history, a possible diabolical/supernatural element, and "acts of surprising violence."

The book does have all those things, but taken together, I think they give the wrong impression.

I would highly recommend this book for fans of "Sarah's Key." It features the same combination of elements: the horrors of WWII in
La Tonya  Jordan
May 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone who likes mysteries
Recommended to La Tonya by: Palladium Bookies Book Club
Shelves: good-read
Julia Ansdell plays second violin in a women's quartet. She has a husband and a beautiful three year daughter, Lily. During an international concert performance in Rome, she stops in an antiques shop and purchases an old book of music called "Gipsy" written in Italian. Inside this old book a sheet of music slips out which is handwritten in elegantly swooping letters called "Incendio", composed by L. Todesco. It turns out this music is a death waltz that leads Julia to Venice to find out about th ...more
Many readers are familiar with Tess Gerritsen for her immensely popular Rizzoli and Isles mystery series. Now she has written a riveting, partly historical stand-alone novel that kept me spellbound throughout!

When I say partly historical I mean that there are dual narratives. The novel tells the story of two violinists, Julia Ansdell in the present day – and Lorenzo Todesco during World War II.

The novel captured my full and undivided attention with the first sentence and never let go.

With elemen
Nov 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
One word....

bravo bravo photo tumblr_lki0xqW1ft1qcwg7q.gif

Thanks for the recommendation Sherri. Highly recommended if you like dual storylines, mystery, and historical fiction.
Playing with Fire is a standalone novel from the author of the Rizzoli and Isles thriller series and other mysteries that I have read and enjoyed. This novel is somewhat of a departure in both structure and story, being split between two time periods--present day Massachusetts and the late 1930s and war-time Italy.

In the present day, Julia Ansdell, a professional musician, married and the mother of a very young girl, happens upon an old piece of music during a music-oriented visit to Italy. From

This story is unlike any I have read before, sometimes believable and at times far fetched.
There are two timelines in this story that is weaved here. There is the historical past and the modern day, both relating to a piece of music.

The composer of the music is Lorenzo.

Its chilling, it can be eerie and quite scary. But then my poor brain couldn't compute this 'syndrome' of events that whenever her mother the musician was playing this piece of music it would make her do terrible thing. The child
Jun 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is something completely new for me with a standalone thriller from one of the queens of the thriller genre, Tess Gerritsen. Having been constantly spoilt by the brilliance of the investigations by Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles I was keen and curious to see what this novel could bring to the table. I am pleased to say that for the most part, despite being a different style of story, things live up to expectations from the master storyteller.

Told through two separate time frames, we follow Jul
Dorie  - Cats&Books :)
This is a standalone thriller by the author of the Rizzoli & Isles series. I have never read anything by this author and was intrigued by the description

In the opening part of the book we meet Julia who is in Venice following a concert given by the quartet she is a part of, she plays the violin. She is looking for a last minute gift for herself when she stumbles upon an antiques store and an odd bit of old music, a beautiful waltz she has never heard of along with a book of “gypsy” music she buy
Jul 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I am going to be purposely vague as the story is best left for the reader to discover. The story begins when Julia Ansdell discovers a piece of composition called the Incendio Waltz in a little antique shop in Rome. Julia is a violinist and loves collecting old music.

She returns home to her doting husband and three-year-old daughter. Mother and daughter spend their first day home together and while her daughter plays, Julia picks up the piece and begins playing it on her violin. As she becomes c
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Internationally bestselling author Tess Gerritsen took an unusual route to a writing career. A graduate of Stanford University, Tess went on to medical school at the University of California, San Francisco, where she was awarded her M.D.

While on maternity leave from her work as a physician, she began to write fiction. In 1987, her first novel was published. Call After Midnight, a romantic thriller

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