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The Surgeon Hardcover – August 21, 2001

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Editorial Reviews Review

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.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1st edition (August 21, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345447832
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345447838
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (773 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #117,104 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Internationally bestselling author Tess Gerritsen took an unusual route to a writing career. A graduate of Stanford University, Tess went on to medical school at the University of California, San Francisco, where she was awarded her M.D.

While on maternity leave from her work as a physician, she began to write fiction. In 1987, her first novel was published. Call After Midnight, a romantic thriller, was followed by eight more romantic suspense novels. She also wrote a screenplay, "Adrift", which aired as a 1993 CBS Movie of the Week starring Kate Jackson.

Tess's first medical thriller, Harvest, was released in hardcover in 1996, and it marked her debut on the New York Times bestseller list. Her suspense novels since then have been: Life Support (1997), Bloodstream (1998), Gravity (1999), The Surgeon (2001), The Apprentice (2002), The Sinner (2003), Body Double (2004), Vanish (2005), The Mephisto Club (2006), The Bone Garden (2007), The Keepsake (2008; UK title: Keeping the Dead), Ice Cold (2010; UK title: The Killing Place), The Silent Girl (2011), and Last To Die (August 2012.) Her books have been published in forty countries, and more than 30 million copies have been sold around the world.

Her books have been top-3 bestsellers in the United States and number one bestsellers abroad. She has won both the Nero Wolfe Award (for Vanish) and the Rita Award (for The Surgeon). Critics around the world have praised her novels as "Pulse-pounding fun" (Philadelphia Inquirer), "Scary and brilliant" (Toronto Globe and Mail), and "Polished, riveting prose" (Chicago Tribune). Publisher Weekly has dubbed her the "medical suspense queen".

Her series of novels featuring homicide detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles inspired the TNT television series "Rizzoli & Isles" starring Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander.

Now retired from medicine, she writes full time. She lives in Maine.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

140 of 143 people found the following review helpful By Marc Ruby™ HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on December 23, 2001
Format: Hardcover
"The Surgeon" is not a novel that has any intention of giving the reader an easy moment. From the beginning of the story, as first we pay a visit to the cold mind of a serial killer, are swept into the autopsy of his latest victim, only to find ourselves in the middle of an operating room emergency, the reader is granted no respite. The killer tortures the victims, first binding them, performing a waking hysterectomy, and then, after keeping them alive for a time, slashing their throats. Now Boston detectives Thomas Moore and Jane Rizzoli are unwilling partners in a grizzly murder case.
Rizzoli discovers that the killer's modus operandi has occurred once before in Savannah, Georgia. While the crimes are nearly identical there is one hitch. The last victim of the Savannah killer not only survived, but killed her tormentor. Survived to heal, leave Savannah and move to Boston where she practices as a surgeon and member of an emergency team. Dr. Catherine Cordell finds herself dealing again with a horror from her past she thought was over.
It is not long before it is clear that Catherine Cordell is the real objective of the killer, now known as the Surgeon. The killer's trail of victims defies all police efforts to identify a murderer, who seems to have risen from the dead. The increasing menace to Dr. Cordell plays against her halting relationship with Moore and Rizzoli's almost compulsive antagonism. Compared to the all too human character if his opponents, the Surgeon always appears supremely cold and efficient. As apt to dwell on Greek myth as he his to exult over his victims.
Few characters come across as completely healthy in this tale.
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41 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Nick G on August 23, 2001
Format: Hardcover
He stalks his prey in the darkness. He enters their houses and walks into their bedrooms. The precision of his brutal killings suggests he is a man of medicine. The police are baffled and their only clues are the facts that he rapes his victims, removes their uterus, and THEN kills them. Luckily for the police one of the potential victims fights back and kills her attacker.
Dr. Catherine Cordell is trying to forget the attack that almost killed her two years ago. And although she has moved from Savannah to Boston the nightmares that plague her are about to become a reality.
Within a few weeks of each other a series of killings have locked the people of Boston in a state of fear. The police, having nothing to go on, begin to look into the recent murders only to discover they are very similar to the murders that happened in Savannah. Detectives Thomas Moore and Jane Rizzoli examine the close similarities between the years apart crimes and are shocked to realize they can't be copy cat crimes, for the details of the original killings were kept out of the papers, but how can this be the work of the original killer, he was killed by Catherine Cordell?
Moore and Rizzoli do the only thing they can, bring Cordell into the middle of their investigation because any information she supplies them can bring them closer to catching the killer. Unknown to anyone is the fact that the killer is staying one step ahead of them, and Catherine Cordell has now been targeted as the next victim on the killer's list, a deranged madman that knows the fears of the women he kills.
`The Surgeon' sucked me in from the first page, and kept me riveted from one shock to the next.
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Roz Levine on September 27, 2001
Format: Hardcover
There's a serial killer loose in Boston, first torturing and mutilating women in a very methodical way and then viciously killing them. The press have dubbed him "the surgeon". His crimes are grisly and he's very clever. As the body count rises, homicide detectives Thomas Moore and Jane Rizzoli are working the case round the clock and getting nowhere fast. That is, until they discover that two years ago an almost identical crime spree occurred in Savanah, Georgia. There, the killings stopped when the last victim, Dr Catherine Cordell, was able to fight back and shoot her attacker. Now she's living and working in Boston and though it's impossible, "the surgeon" seems to have followed her there..... Turn off the phone and lock the door because The Surgeon is about to keep you up reading, all night. This is an intricate medical thriller that has it all: a tight, tense, well-paced plot, full of intense and riveting scenes, crisp, suspenseful writing, terrific well-drawn and engaging characters and a diabolical villian who makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up. Tess Gerritsen has really honed her craft and her indepth medical knowledge and great attention to detail add real credibility to the story. Add to that a stunning climax and satisfying ending and you have the makings of a superb read that shouldn't be missed.
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Mark Wagenschutz on March 2, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is my first venture into Tess Gerritson. The Surgeon is the typical fare of the slasher/cop genre. And typical is my reaction to most of the book. It falls in line with the James Patterson, Jonathan Kellerman style of novels. The villian is unkown, and the author throws a curve every now and again to keep you guessing. The surviving victim of a brutal attack two years ago in Savannah, Dr. Catherine Cordell establishes a new life in Boston. But the past is following her as new female victims are being killed in Boston in the same fashion as before. Enter Detective Thomas Moore, a widower and perceived saint among the Boston PD, and his chip-on-the-shoulder partner Jane Rizzoli. Of course, Moore and Cordell fall in love, Rizzoli is not happy, the killer is getting closer to his ultimate prize - finishing what was not accomplished two years ago.
Overall, the book was a fun read. If there was a 3 1/2 star choice, I'd rate it there. I'm not to the point that I'll immediately purchase another Gerritson novel...I'm not totally sold yet. But I will go to the library to check one out.
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