Review: The Surgeon by Tess Gerristen
Author: Tess Gerristen
Title: The Surgeon
Series: Rizzoli & Isles # 1
Genre: Crime thriller
Pub. Year: 2001
Purchase: Amazon/ B&N
A serial killer is on the loose in Boston. The victims are killed in a particularly nasty way: cut with a scalpel on the stomach, the intestines and uterus removed, and then the throat slashed. The killer obviously has medical knowledge and has been dubbed “the Surgeon” by the media. Detective Thomas Moore and his partner Rizzoli of the Boston Homicide Unit have discovered something that makes this case even more chilling.
Years ago in Savannah a serial killer murdered in exactly the same way. He was finally stopped by his last victim, who shot him as he tried to cut her. That last victim is Dr. Catherine Cordell, who now works as a cardiac surgeon at one of Boston’s prestigious hospitals. As the murders continue, it becomes obvious that the killer is drawing closer and closer to Dr. Cordell, who is becoming so frightened that she is virtually unable to function.
But she is the only person who can help the police catch this copycat killer. Or is it a copycat? To complicate matters even further, Detective Moore, often referred to as Saint Thomas as he continues to mourn the loss of his wife, is getting emotionally involved with the doctor.
What I will remember: Women’s insecurity in a male dominated world
I’m a fan of the TV show, Rizzoli and Isles, so I decided to pick up the first book in the series. I was concerned at first because the blurb let me to believe that Detective Moore was the main character and Rizzoli would be a minor character. Turns out, this is not the case and like Dexter, it doesn’t disappoint much.
I really enjoyed the duality in the book. Throughout this book, we switched perspectives from Detective Moore and Detective Rizzoli while maintaining the third perspective without confusion. We can see the internal battles that they have. Moore dealing with the fact that he is crossing the line with Dr. Catherine Cordell (witness) and Rizzoli struggling being the only woman in a male profession where the men don’t care for her opinion. I liked her perspective more than Moore’s because I can relate to her and see where her insecurities come from.
I did generally like almost everything about this book but what I didn’t like was Dr. Catherine Cordell. She was the one the unsub wanted all along as she is vital to the book. I dislike her character, she was just really cold to me. I do understand it has to do with her past, I’m sympathetic to her and I admired her because her because she is a survivor. I just can’t relate to her. That being said, Gerristen, did an excellent job portraying Catherine’s inner turmoil.
Rizzoli was not what I expected. In the show, she is more likeable and has more respect from the men. In the book, she was cold at times and constantly complained about being a woman in a male profession. It almost felt like she did not like being a woman because it was affecting her job. I hate that because she is falling into the belief that being a woman is a hindrance to her job and as a woman, she should strive to break those misconceptions (or at least not accept it). There will always be gender inequality in the work force but we shouldn’t promote it. Rizzoli has image-problems as well as acceptance problems which make her a complicated character.
Gerristen really let the unsub/serial killer evolve and it shows. She showed how he became more confident with each kill and inventive as well. The parts of the unsub speaking are creepy but well done. It does bother me that there is no background history on how came to be. Gerristen implies through the book that he was simply born to be a serial killer and I disagree. No one is born to be a serial killer, they are created. Still, her serial killer was fleshed out.