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THE SURGEON by Tess Gerritsen Kirkus Star

THE SURGEON

By Tess Gerritsen

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-345-44783-2
Publisher: Ballantine

Top-grade thriller-diller from Gerritsen (the jaw-chattering Gravity, 1999, etc.), a former internist who gave up the stethoscope to raise kids and chills.

Blistering ER trauma-work spells the main melodrama: a gruesome serial killer who collects his victims’ wombs has over the years become quite skilled with his blade. The really awful part: he removes the womb while the naked woman lies awake and can see his power over her. ER trauma surgeon Catherine Cordell first met the killer, called “The Surgeon” by Boston newspapers, down in Savannah, where she was his last victim. Luckily for Catherine, after being raped she got a hand free from the cord binding her to the bed, cut herself loose with a scalpel, reached under her bed, grabbed a pistol, and seemingly killed Andrew Capra, the inept medical student about to pluck out her womb. Unable to bear Savannah, where everyone seemed to know she’d been raped, Catherine transferred to Boston, holed up for nearly two years, then took a job as a trauma surgeon without disclosing her past. Good grief! more wombless bodies start showing up in Boston. Did she really kill Andrew? Well, yes. Homicide detective Thomas Moore, a widower soon romancing sexually zapped Catherine, determines that she is on the killer’s list. Jealous, plainfaced, snappish young Jane Rizzoli, the only female on Boston Homicide, leads his investigation. Gerritsen goes to great pains working up a classical background for the killer, filling us in on Greek, Viking, and Aztec sacrificial practices while also getting strong pages out of scenes in a rape crisis center, where incidents vividly illustrate the lifelong black aftermath of a rape. Then The Surgeon leaves one victim alive as an ER birthday present for Catherine, so that she can sew up spilled bowels while working through her own rape trauma.

Sharp characters stitch your eye to the page. An all-nighter.