Tess Gerritsen – The Surgeon

In Boston, there’s a killer on the loose…

A killer who targets lone women and performs terrifying ritualistic acts of torture on them before finishing them off. His surgical skills lead police to suspect he is a physician who, instead of saving lives, takes them.

But as homicide detective Thomas Moore and his partner Jane Rizzoli start their investigation, they make a startling discovery. Closely linked to these killings is Catherine Cordell, a beautiful doctor with a mysterious past. Two years ago she was subjected to a horrifying rape, and shot her attacker dead.

Now, the man she believes she killed seems to be stalking her once again. and this time he knows exactly where to find her…

The Surgeon is the second book I read for the Great Transworld Crime Caper. I chose this one, because Rizzoli & Isles, the TV show based on this series has been airing here in Holland since last month and both my husband and myself really like it. I was curious to see how the two would compare. Of course this book is very different from said TV show, as most book adaptations are. And however much I love the show, the book, as is the case most of the time, was better.

The Surgeon is a police procedural at heart and what struck me very early on in the book is how real the police proceedings seem; it’s clear Ms Gerritsen did her research well. No glitz and glamour here, these are normal everyday people and some of them aren’t especially likeable either (Detective Crowe I’m looking at you!). Time passes; DNA results take time and aren’t ready within the hour, tracking leads can take days and the case isn’t solved by the end of the next working day. I loved that there weren’t any ‘magic’ gadgets that solved the case, just honest leg work and brainpower. Ms Gerritsen also displays her background as a medical doctor in the incredibly detailed hospital scenes. She doesn’t pull any punches with medical terms, trusting her reader to either understand what she means or letting them just regard it as scene dressing. It also lends a high level of gruesome verisimilitude to the descriptions of the bloody crime scenes and some of the scenes describing what the victims went through.

I liked the author’s tone of voice. The book is told from four view points: Detective Thomas Moore, Detective Jane Rizzoli, Doctor Catherine Cordell and the killer. Each of these is clearly identifiable and has their own pace and vocabulary. This not only gives the reader different perspectives on the unfolding events, but also helps ratchet up the tension as we see not just Moore and Rizzoli’s growing frustration at their inability to find the killer, but also Dr. Cordell’s rising fear. And the scenes written from the killer’s perspective are so creepy, they gave me goose bumps!

The relationships developing between Moore and Rizzoli and Moore and Cordell, professional and personal respectively, were very interesting and I loved seeing how they mirrored each other in the development of trust and respect. What did get me confused was the partnerships, who was partnered with whom. At first Jane is put with Detective Frost, but then she seems to be partnered with Moore. I couldn’t keep up, though this switch seems to be due to the forming of a crime unit, because of the serial nature of the murders. But overall I really liked the characters, even those that weren’t really likeable, as they too served a function in the story.

In the end, The Surgeon was a hard book to put down, not just for me, but for my extremely hard-to-please (as far as books are concerned) husband as well. He filched the book from my to-read-pile on his day off and made me wait till he finished it, before handing it back. This never happens. Normally I have to nag at him to try a book I really loved, so this was a pleasant surprise. He also wants to read the other books now! The book is as much a thriller as it is a pure crime novel, and in that respect was technically and psychologically spot on. I really enjoyed this book and I can’t wait for Dr. Isles to arrive, hopefully in the next book!

This book was sent to me for review as part of the Great Transworld Crime Caper.

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