You may need a smear of Vicks menthol under your nose to get through Gerritsen’s autopsies and crime scenes in this follow-up, a masterful sequel to The Surgeon (2001).
Doc Gerritsen here moves into the Thomas Harris class, though with a style all her own, never as baroque as Harris, and always smoothly enriched with detail and with characters who catch your sympathies. Even the two serial-killer villains slowly dig into you, especially the carry-over from The Surgeon, Warren Hoyt, a well-spoken murderer of considerable depth and self-understanding. As her fans know, Gerritsen is a former internist now switched from medicine to fiction. In her novels, like the gripping Gravity, she fills every page chockablock with research of wondrous density about the human body, crime scene investigation, and behavioral science as tied to serial murders. In the earlier book, Boston Homicide Detective Jane Rizzoli got medical technician and blood specialist Warren Hoyt put in jail, though not before he’d scarred her palms with his scalpel. Now a seeming copycat killer arises in Boston whose mode is to bind husbands, then make them watch the rape and throttling of their wives. Afterward, the husbands’ throats are cut and the wives’ bodies spirited off for carnivals of necrophilia. The likeness of these killings to Hoyt’s draws Rizzoli ever deeper into an investigation that eventually seems to be circling around her. When Hoyt then escapes from a prison hospital and actually joins the copycat, the horror deepens—and the danger to Rizzoli grows absolute. Meanwhile, we visit over a half-dozen crime scenes as Rizzoli increasingly resents being joined by FBI Agent Gabriel Dean, whose agenda points to some larger but private purpose. The main interplay takes place between tough-talking Jane, as she resists breaking down, and coolly reserved Dean—with brilliant arias from Hoyt.
Note: Do not read this one in bed or when home alone.