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The Surgeon - Tess Gerritsen
Member Name: QueenElf
The Surgeon - Tess Gerritsen
Advantages: Highly readable (for Fans)
Disadvantages: VERY Disturbing.
The acclaim for this book also adds the fact that it's a deeply disturbing and dark thriller with plenty of excitement, ultra-gory, shocking, efficient scary and one more important fact, it rages against the fact that women suffer such crimes but are strong enough to survive them and it's that last plaudit I held onto.
There's a killer on the loose in Boston- a viscous killer who preys on lonely and traumatized women, rendering them to a bloody prop in his nightmare scenarios. Even hardened detectives such as Thomas Moore and his partner Jane Rizzoli cannot recall ever coming across such vile horrors before and for some of the team it's enough to send them flying for the nearest toilet. Surely only a madman could be so inhuman as to torture a naked woman and remove her uterus while she is still alive, finally applying the killing stroke by a slash across the throat that almost decapitates the victim?
As the stunned team starts their investigation a beautiful local medic becomes involved and for Dr Catherine Cordell it's a recurrence of a terrible nightmare when two years previously she barely escaped with her life from a killer who operated in exactly the same way but she stopped by shooting him dead. Has a copycat killer followed her from Savannah to Boston and if so, how could he know all the details that the police routinely keep back in any investigation? With two women already butchered and more to follow unless they can crack the crime, this is one investigation that will push Moore And Rizzoli to hell and back.
***Setting the crime-scene. ***
Tess Gerritsen is one of my favourite female thriller writers and knows what she writes about from her medical background. This is one of her earlier books and is fourth in a series with Detective Rizzoli, the female cop that has to fight to stay on the ball in a man's world. The book was published in 2001 and for some reason is one I missed. The author writes of what she knows, whether it's from a crime scene or a doctor struggling in surgery to save a person's life, elbows deep inside a chest or stomach cavity, a nurse assisting by mopping up the blood.
There is also a lot of suppressed anger in this book, which I consider is possibly a reaction to the number of women who gets passed over as lightweights in a male dominated world. In this book her victims suffer from rape over long periods of time and are too scared to report it, locking them inside their lives and even their houses where they become victims of murder. The descriptions are explicit and turned my stomach at times as well as angering me, but this does happen and being angry is sometimes not enough. By taking the victim's uterus while she is still alive, the killer is taking away a woman's femininity as well as her life. It's the ultimate obscenity and it made me wonder if I should be reading it.
What Gerritsen does is to take a plot, set a background for her killer, giving him pathology, a voice in the novel and a large part of the story. While we get to know the team in charge of catching the killer, we also follow some of what goes on in the killer's head, so we are taking some part in the discoveries as they happen. It's a rare quality that few writers do so well as Gerritsen and it works because we start to really care about nailing this abominable apology for a man (we learn early on it's a male unsub). If I have one little niggle, it's just that this book takes on a theme of such magnitude by having two sets of killings with a gap in between that the details sometimes get a bit muddled. However, the denouement is worth the page flicking!
I almost feel like listing them to keep track of who belongs to what section and which crime, but as long as you keep paying attention the players soon become as close to you as your family. Naturally there are people you don't want to know, although the killer just happens to be educated and with some knowledge of sacrifice his frequent mentions of Greek Mythology become relevant. It doesn't detract from his abominable crimes but gives some character.
Amongst the police force we have Detective Moore, who is a quietly spoken gentleman who makes all the other cops look like barbarians. Naturally the women fall for him and the reader sees Rizzoli as a woman who stops trying to be one of the lads so Moore will see her as a woman. It adds interest and shows up the crew of other detectives who aren't quite as insensitive as they first appear. There's a lot more to find out about the characters that have been in earlier books and will appear in later books, but this can be read as a standalone without any problems.
Sadly it's the victims that take the awards here for the characters. Catherine Cordell has to be one of the strongest women I've come across next to Agent Starling in 'Silence of the Lambs.' She has already suffered rape by being drugged but fought back and shot her assailant. Moving to a new town and a new job as a trauma surgeon cannot be easy, but when another woman is attacked and left alive as a 'present' to her, you can see the fear this character has to live with. The message is,' you CAN survive' but at what cost?
I took this book to heart for several reasons. Firstly I chose this because I needed something to read while away, both traveling and at nighttime. It has to be a strong story to hold my interest and this fit the bill. Secondly I am presently toying with my own writing, which I feel has gone stale and needed a book I could care about. This really did keep me awake and made me think along the lines of why do women read such books when we fear becoming targets? Thirdly (and by chance) I caught a bad cold and needed a diversion.
I certainly got all my requirements and more. It's a novel that's meant to be read as fiction, but it did make me think a lot about why we read these books and what impact do they have on readers? For me I'm still looking over my shoulder at bedtime, but I have also found another book that's keeping me up at nights. All I can add is that I enjoy being scared to a certain level and after that I reassure myself that on the whole, mankind has far more heroes than villains, at least after reading 'The Surgeon' I hope so.
Highly recommended for those with strong stomachs. If you are even a tiny bit squeamish, forget it!
My book was a charity shop buy at £1 you can buy this for much the same with postage from Amazon.
Thanks for reading.
This review may appear on other sites. İLfuller2012.
Summary: Excellent plot but hard to take the violence.