By Tess Gerritsen
August 21, 2001
Relentless. Exhausting. Exhilarating. I find myself still reeling from the chase and the terror of this suspenseful tale. I wanted to look away yet found myself so engrossed that I could not. Everything in my life took a second seat as I raced through this new book by Tess Gerritsen.
Dr. Catherine Cordell has found a new life in Boston. She has created a sterile sanctuary to which she can retreat in safety after her long days as a gifted surgeon. She will no longer be out of control of any aspect of her life. Safety and organization are keywords in her existence. It is the horror and the terror of her attack in Savannah, Georgia two years before that drives her. Those closest to her do not even know of these prior events, so powerful is her desire to not remain a victim. The single outlet to her repressed pain is an anonymous Internet chat room.
And then the murders begin anew. How could they? She had killed her assailant. Shot him herself. There is no way that anyone could know all the details of the vicious assaults on the victims in Atlanta and then in Savannah. The Boston police department is now examining three more identical attacks. No one else could possibly be as cruel in their methods of torturing helpless women. Yet the reality was indisputable.
His nickname is The Surgeon. These women in Boston are just practice until he can beat Catherine Cordell back in to submissive fear and terror. Will she let him succeed?
The pace of this book was absolutely unmerciful, almost like The Surgeon himself. Following the Boston Police Department piece together the details of numerous assaults was fascinating. I had no time to think ahead of them, to come to my own conclusions, so quickly was the information presented.
I found myself cheering on the character of Catherine Cordell, vulnerable from her previous encounter with a serial killer who viciously attacked her, afraid to get close to any man, wondering if she could ever trust again. She is cool and detached in her professional life, expertly handling traumas in the ER, yet inside yearns for peace. Never again would she not be in charge of her own life, as she had been once while lying helpless at the mercy of a serial killer. She is frustrated that she cannot remember more of her own attack to help the Boston detectives catch this new murderer. When a key detail is revealed, I was breathless with exhilaration to see where it would lead.
Having read Tess Gerritsen’s previous books Harvest, Life Support, Bloodstream, and Gravity, I was hoping to enjoy a fast paced, expertly told tale by this physician-turned-writer. I was not the least bit disappointed.
One caveat to the reader. Do not read this late at night and alone on a hot summer evening leaving your windows open for a breath of fresh air. It could be deadly.
And now, if you’re ready, here’s the sequel…
By Tess Gerritsen
Pocket Books, August 20, 2002
It’s cliché to say a book kept you up all night, but in this sequel to last year’s THE SURGEON, there is no other way to say how riveted I was to turning the pages in this novel. I found myself skipping over words to get to the next sentence, the next paragraph, the next step in figuring out who was killing in Boston. And then the Surgeon is loose.
Detective Jane Rizzoli is called to the scene of a Newton homicide with hallmarks of the Surgeon written all over it. A couple was brutalized, the man forced to watch his wife violated and then his throat was slashed. A teacup left on his lap. At first, all Rizzoli can see are similarities to the case she worked the summer before. The one where she, herself, was a victim, still bearing the scars. Then she tries to shake it off and go back to her own caseload spilling over her desk.
But it won’t go away. A body is found in a city park, just days after her death. Appallingly another body, this time months beyond death, is found nearby. And then Warren Hoyt, the Surgeon, escapes from the operating room of a local hospital, leaving blood spurts on the walls from his new victims and a chilling clue on a videotape only Rizzoli will understand.
The tension just never lets up. Rizzoli is still the only female detective in the Boston PD homicide division. She feels the need to measure up to the guys and exceed their expectations. She won’t let herself break down or crumble, even when viewing the autopsies of the bodies. Yet her authority as lead on the case is being questioned by a “fibbie”, an FBI agent from Washington requested from higher authorities difficult to question. Her lieutenant is concerned that her personal involvement with the Surgeon will underscore her new case. Rizzoli professes that her fear will not interfere with the execution of her job.
Part of that job is attending the autopsies, which are vividly portrayed, definitely not for the weak of stomach. The smells from the autopsy table wafted under my nose, so intense is the portrayal of the best of the best medical examiner teamed up with a forensic anthropologist. We learn about the tiniest details that help identify the victims, including such facts as the stage of development of the fly papillae left behind, what evidence is left behind on the adhesive of duct tape, what happens to hair as it stays in a decomposing body, and how wounds taped back together can reveal the weapon that split it apart. Fascinating medical and forensic information is included.
Yet what it all really gets down to is human emotion. Tess Gerritsen has taken a chilling look at a vicious killer and entered his mind. We learn of his fantasies, his secrets, his ambition. Gerritsen also takes us into the mind of a fiercely determined female homicide detective and finds the source of her strength and her vulnerability. What a fascinating dichotomy we witness.
Breathtaking in its intensity, this book raised the hairs on my arms, gave me shivers, fascinated me at every turn. I won’t escape its images very soon. Gerritsen took me on a roller coaster and loved watching me enjoy the thrills and chills of that ride. She can sure write, and I hope she never stops.