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The Surgeon    by Tess Gerritsen order for
by Tess Gerritsen
Order:  USA  Can
Ballantine, 2002 (2001)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio, CD

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* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Dr. Catherine Cordell, a skilled trauma surgeon, has left Savannah and set up a new life and a new partnership in Boston, after a deeply personal trauma of her own - she almost died at the hands of a serial killer/rapist. During that gruesome encounter, she managed to free herself from her restraints and killed her attacker, Andrew Capra, an aspiring doctor with whom she had worked.

When Detectives Thomas Moore and Jane Rizzoli of the Boston P.D. come to question Cordell about a series of brutal murders bearing startling similarities to her own case, Catherine is stunned. She knows her bullet killed Capra. How could this be happening all over again? Could there be a copycat killer on the loose in Boston, emulating Capra's brutal modus operandi? That seems the only logical answer.

Catherine wants to forget about the horrible events in Savannah, but knows she has no choice but to cooperate with the police in any way she can. The fact that Detective Thomas Moore is patient, kind and understanding makes her difficult situation more bearable and with his help, she and investigators begin pulling together theories and piecing together the puzzle that is the Surgeon. But as the murders escalate, it soon becomes clear that none of the killings so far were random, that the Surgeon is taunting Catherine and that she's been the target all along. It's also clear that this time he plans to finish the job he started in Savannah.

Great characterizations, fine writing, wire taught pacing, edge of your seat suspense and a truly sinister villain make this a stand-out medical thriller. Doctor-turned-author Gerritsen injects even more credibility to her gripping tale by infusing plenty of medical detail and numerous scenes showing Catherine, her partner, Dr. Peter Falco, and other medical practitioners hard at work saving lives. Gerritsen's police procedural scenes are equally good. She closely follows detectives while they look for leads, clues and any common threads as they try frantically to stop a remorseless and very clever killer.

Category romance readers will know Ms. Gerritsen's early work as a regular contributor to the Harlequin Intrigue line. It appears this fine author has found her true niche in the mainstream medical suspense category as evidenced by this great read, and by her short list of previous thrillers: Gravity, Harvest, Bloodstream. The sequel to The Surgeon, The Apprentice, is on bookshelves now - I can hardly wait to read it!

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