Tess Gerritsen and Gary Braver
Thomas & Mercer
July 1st, 2021
Choose Me by Tess Gerritsen and Gary Braver delve into the world of adultery. The story conjures up feelings of betrayal, deception, guilt, and personal responsibility.
Tess wants readers to understand, “It is not just a murder mystery, but also an exploration of how flawed people are. A mistake can destroy someone’s life and that we are responsible for the things we do. A lot of people feel they are not responsible anymore. Fate made someone do it or some politician. We need to take responsibility for our own actions. We also need to face the consequences for our actions without blaming anyone else.”
The novel opens with the death of college student Taryn Moore, who supposedly plunged to her death from the balcony of her apartment. But Boston Detective Frankie Loomis wonders if the death really was a suicide, or could it be possibly a murder. For her, the clues do not add up, knowing how college age girls act (considering she has raised twin daughters). After discovering additional and sordid secrets, the detective is even more convinced that Taryn’s death is not what it seems.
The narrative works backwards from the discovery of Taryn’s body and is delivered in alternating chapters by Taryn, Jack, and Frankie. The suspects include Professor Jack Dorian, his wife, Dr. Maggie, Taryn’s seminar nemesis, mean girls Jessica and Caitlin, Cody Atwood, the shy seminar student who has a crush on Taryn, and Liam the ex-boyfriend who Taryn is stalking.
As the book progresses, readers will also realize that Taryn is not the innocent victim. She has a dangerous streak where she can be ruthless and selfish. This shows in her two relationships, one with Liam, a childhood sweetheart who outgrew her, and the other with Jack, her college professor. With both, Taryn becomes a stalker, unwilling to accept the relationship is over.
Tess commented, “People are not supposed to like her just because she is a victim. There are shades of gray. We wanted to show how a victim can also be a villain. What readers want and what they desire are two different things. They think they want a likeable character but really want a fascinating character. I point to Scarlett O’ Hara. She is not a likeable character, but we cannot walk away because she is so interesting. Taryn is brilliant, charming, and beautiful. She was like a train wreck because of her obsessiveness and how damaged and hurt she was. In the beginning she was vulnerable, betrayed, hurt, and damaged, but as the story went on, she became selfish. Her personality is like peeling an onion. As readers get deeper and deeper into knowing her, they realize she is not who she seems to be at the beginning.”
Taryn sees herself as a victim and becomes obsessed with that feeling. After taking a college seminar, “Star Crossed Lovers,” she realizes the similarities between herself and women in Medieval and Greek mythology. All have been betrayed and abandoned by men in relationships. Whether it was Abelard and Heloise, Tristan and Isolde, Romeo and Juliet, or Jason and Medea, the men said the words “I love you,” but not for a lifetime.
The authors noted, “In his seminar, “Star Struck Lovers,” Jack uses classical stories where men used and abandoned women. It is the unity that holds the book together. These ancient classics are still being debated by feminists today regarding what is an accurate and inaccurate way to interpret them. It is a history of men who do wrong and fall on their swords. Taryn feels closest to Medea who gets revenge. I would have taken this seminar if I were in college. The stories we found are ones where Taryn would see herself of being abandoned or losing a lover. They were role models for her on how she would behave. She put herself into their lives to help her live her life.”
The many twists and turns make for an exciting read. The authors turned the characters on their heads making the supposed victim unlikeable and the adulterer, the one people root for.