Penzler Pick, August 2001:
Tess Gerritsen left a very successful career as an internist to raise her children and devote more time to writing. After several books that have had moderate success, Gerritsen has now written a gruesome and frightening story that should put her among the top women thriller writers working today.
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.
The suspense in The Surgeon is almost unbearable. The writing is superb and the stunning twists and turns make it almost impossible to put down. -- Otto Penzler
From Publishers Weekly
A creepy cerebral serial killer vaguely reminiscent of Hannibal Lecter pursues a charismatic female doctor in this thoroughly satisfying if somewhat derivative thriller. Skillfully drawn surgical backdrops sizzling with ER intensity balance out the obligatory romantic intrigue and familiar plucky police professionals, attesting to Gerritsen's authentic medical expertise as a former physician. Dr. Catherine Cordell, the main character in this chilling tale, thought she had shot and killed her rapist and would-be murderer two years earlier in steamy Savannah, where he was a surgery intern at her hospital. Now, in Boston, as another hot summer begins, he appears to have miraculously returned and embarked once again on his grisly mission: he rapes women, then surgically removes their wombs. As two intrepid detectives Thomas Moore and Jane Rizzoli investigate, Cordell begins to doubt her own memories (or lack of) and discovers that not even her OR is safe. Gliding as smoothly as a scalpel in a confident surgeon's hand, this tale proves that Gerritsen (Harvest; Life Support; Bloodstream; Gravity), originally a romance writer, has morphed into a dependable suspense novelist whose growing popularity is keeping pace with her ever-finer writing skills. (Sept.)Forecast: National print advertising in People, the New York Times and USA Today, plus a major promotion campaign, will ratchet Gerritsen's sales up yet another notch.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.