Review: The Surgeon (Rizzoli & Isles #1) by Tess Gerritsen

The Surgeon

The Surgeon / Tess Gerritsen

Published January 17th 2005 by Bantam (first published 2001).

Like I said in my review of Freaks, I am not very familiar with Tess Gerritsen‘s work.  In fact, this was the first novel that I’ve read from her bibliography.  I’ve read a lot of murder mysteries in the past and this was just okay.

Women who are murdered in the most grotesque way have been popping up all over Boston.  Their throats are slashed, abdomen cut open, their uterus removed.  The cuts made were clean and precise, hinting to the police that the unknown subject has medical knowledge.  They call him “The Surgeon”.  Two years ago, similar murders were committed in Savannah, Georgia.  The only survivor of these heinous crimes now reside in Boston.  Dr. Catherine Cordell works as a trauma doctor and it seems that the murders followed her there.  But she killed her attacker before he could cut into her.  Is this a copycat?  Did Catherine’s attacker have a partner?  Was he after her now?  Detective Jane Rizzoli and her partner Detective Thomas Moore are on the case.

If you are a fan of the show and are just starting off with Gerritsen’s books, I advise not to expect much.  Yes, the first season of Rizzoli & Isles, especially the show pilot episode, was based on this and the next one, The Apprentice.  But this book did not have Dr. Maura Isles yet so there will be no playful banter between the two.  Jane was not even the main detective on this one.  It’s Detective Moore.  Sure, Jane ends up being the hero in the end but for the rest of the book, she’s at the sidelines.  And I also did not like the constant “because I’m a girl” bitching.  It was okay for the first two or three times but every time Jane Rizzoli came in to the picture, that was what she was thinking.  Alright, you’re a girl so they don’t see you as an equal.  We get it.

What set it apart was the medical aspect.  I understand that Gerritsen was a doctor before she became an novelist.  Her medical knowledge was brilliantly used here.  Dr. Catherine Cordell performed a couple of life-saving procedures and it was described almost in full detail.  It reminds me of Kathy Reichs‘ work (coincidentally, both authors hold degrees in Anthropology) when she mixes her scientific field with her literature.  I have read reviews where people thought it was so gruesome but I liked those parts.  I felt that it gave Catherine Cordell depth; that it showed a side of her entirely opposite from what you’d think of a rape victim.  In her world, she had complete control, thus it gave the unsub a goal.  To rattle her protective cage and send her falling to pieces.

Overall, it was a good read.  Nothing much to talk about.

Rating: 3/5

Recommendation: It will appeal to those who like medical murder mysteries.  I’m not sure how it will appeal to the fans of the TV show as Dr. Isles is not yet introduced in this book and there are differences between the TV and book Rizzoli and Frost.  I’m a huge fan of the show and I liked it.

Get your copy here.

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