Mostly known today for its TV adaptation starring Angie Harmon as Jane Rizzoli and Sasha Alexander as Maura Isles, Rizzoli and Isles is a crime series written by American novelist and retired general physician Tess Gerritsen.
The series is about the investigations led by Boston Detective Jane Rizzoli and her friend and colleague Forensic Pathologist Maura Isles.
How to read the Rizzoli and Isles Series in Order?
Every novel in the Rizzoli and Isles book series works as a standalone story, but the lives of the different characters evolve from one novel to the other.
- The Surgeon – Introduction of Jane Rizzoli. A killer is targeting lone women, torturing and murdering them. The precision of his methods leads Detective Jane Rizzoli to suspect he is medically trained. Then Jane makes a terrifying discovery. Years ago a young woman was assaulted in a similar way. She escaped by shooting her attacker dead. So why does it feel like he’s stalking her again?
- The Apprentice – Introduction of Dr. Maura Isles. A series of horrific murders seem disturbingly familiar to Detective Jane Rizzoli. They remind her and Forensic Pathologist Maura Isles of those committed by a killer known as The Surgeon, who they recently put behind bars. While they’re still trying to track down the new killer, the unthinkable happens: The Surgeon escapes. Suddenly, Jane is chasing not one but two brilliant and twisted minds, united by one goal…
- The Sinner – Two nuns are brutally attacked within the walls of their convent. There seems to be no shred of motive. But during the autopsy Forensic Pathologist Maura Isles discovers something entirely unexpected. And when a second, heavily mutilated body is found and linked to the case, she and Detective Jane Rizzoli find themselves in the midst of a terrifying investigation that seems to implicate everyone.
- Body Double – Pathologist Maura Isles has dissected her fair share of corpses. But this time it’s different, because the victim looks exactly like her. Detective Jane Rizzoli is assigned to investigate, and finds herself tracking a twisted killer across the country. To catch him, Maura is forced to delve into a dark and dangerous family history – her own.
- Vanish – Maura Isles unzips a body bag and gets the fright of her life. The corpse opens its eyes. The woman is rushed to hospital, where she murders a guard and siezes hostages, including a heavily pregnant Detective Jane Rizzoli. No one knows who this woman is, or what she wants. Only Jane, trapped with the madwoman, can solve the mystery.
- The Mephisto Club – ‘I HAVE SINNED’ The words are scrawled in blood at the most shocking murder scene Forensic Pathologist Maura Isles and Detective Jane Rizzoli have ever witnessed. The victim, a young woman, has been entirely drained of blood and horrifically dismembered. When there’s a second murder, the police uncover a link to a secret society known as the Mephisto Club. Their mission is a terrifying one – to find the true source of evil on earth.
- The Keepsake (aka Keeping the Dead) – Dubbed “Madam X,” the recently rediscovered mummy is, to all appearances, an ancient Egyptian artifact. But medical examiner Maura Isles discovers a macabre message hidden within the corpse–horrifying proof that this “centuries-old” relic is instead a modern-day murder victim. When the grisly remains of two other women are found, it becomes clear to Maura and Boston homicide detective Jane Rizzoli that a maniac is at large.
- The Killing Place (aka Ice Cold) – Something terrible has happened in the snowbound village of Kingdom Come, Wyoming. Twelve eerily identical houses stand dark and abandoned. The people who lived in them appear to have vanished, seemingly into thin air. Maura Isles is driving through the area with a group of friends when they find themselves trapped in a snowstorm. They stumble into the abandoned village to take shelter. But their nightmare has only just begun. Days later, Jane Rizzoli flies to Wyoming to search for her missing friend.
- Freaks (short story) – available in The Silent Girl.
- The Silent Girl – A severed hand is found in an alleyway in Boston’s Chinatown. Detective Jane Rizzoli discovers the rest of the body on a nearby rooftop, the head nearly severed. The only clue Jane has is two strands of hair, but it’s enough for Forensic Pathologist Maura Isles to make a startling connection. This violent attack has its roots in an unsolved murder-suicide case from nineteen years ago. The only witness, a beautiful martial arts master, has never dared to speak.
- John Doe (short story) – also available in Last To Die.
- Last To Die – For the second time in his short life, Teddy Clock has survived a massacre. Two years ago, he barely escaped when his entire family was slaughtered. Now, at 14, in a hideous echo of the past, Teddy is the lone survivor of his foster family’s mass murder. Orphaned once more, the traumatized teenager has nowhere to turn – until the Boston PD puts Detective Jane Rizzoli on the case. Determined to protect this young man, Jane discovers that what seemed like a coincidence is instead just one horrifying part of a relentless killer’s merciless mission.
- Die Again – Jane Rizzoli is on the case of a big game hunter found dead in his apartment, alone with the body of a beautiful white snow leopard he had recently been commissioned to procure and stuff for a high-profile museum in the area. Maura Isles connects the case to a number of seemingly unrelated deaths where the victims have all been found hanging upside down, the hallmark of a leopard’s kill. Rizzoli follows the puzzling trail of clues all the way to Botswana.
- I Know A Secret – Two separate homicides, at different locations, with unrelated victims, have more in common than just being investigated by Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles. In both cases, the bodies bear startling wounds-yet the actual cause of death is unknown. It’s a doubly challenging case for the cop and the coroner to be taking on, at a fraught time for both of them. As Jane struggles to save her mother from the crumbling marriage that threatens to bury her, Maura grapples with the imminent death of her own mother-infamous serial killer Amalthea Lank.
- Listen to Me – Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles are newly plagued by what seems like a completely senseless murder. Sofia Suarez, a widow and nurse who was universally liked by her neighbors, lies bludgeoned to death in her own home. But anything can happen behind closed doors, and Sofia seemed to have plenty of secrets in her last days, making covert phone calls to traceless burner phones. When Jane finally makes a connection between Sofia and the victim of a hit-and-run months earlier, the case only grows more blurry.
If you like our artible about the Rizzoli & Isles reading order, you may also want to see our guides to Women’s Murder Club or the D.D. Warren series. Don’t hesitate to follow us on Twitter or Facebook to discover more book series.