THE SURGEON by Tess Gerritsen

Mark this book as a First. The Surgeon is Tess Gerritsen’s first crime thriller, the debut for recurring character Detective Jane Rizzoli and my first experience with this author. The verdict:

Gerritsen has found another fan.

Her writing is without waste. Descriptions are vivid. Details flesh out character, or underscore the urgency of the situation. Another bonus is Gerritsen’s background as a physician. Her ability to translate complex medical procedures to the page with simple clarity is not only a joy for the reader, but also provides us with the knowledge necessary to deepen our empathy for the characters.

I chose The Surgeon as my first Gerritsen’s read because it was Rizzoli’s debut, so I was surprised to discover she was a secondary character. Rizzoli’s partner Detective Thomas Moore is the man that captures the reader’s heart. In fact, this reader was rooting so much for Moore, Rizzoli became a thorn in my side and I ended up disliking her as much as the other characters in the book. I couldn’t fathom how this character earned a strong enough following for the popular Rizzoli and Isles series. Then in the midst of the murder investigation Rizzoli’s inner turmoil was flushed out, and by the end of the book I couldn’t stop wondering what the future holds for this heroine. Applause for Gerritsen.

My only reservation with The Surgeon has to do with the antagonist. We become acquainted with the Surgeon through long monologues, which often explore behaviors of people from ancient lands, i.e. the Greeks, Vikings and Aztecs. Although this material revealed much about the Surgeon’s frame of mind these chapters often pulled me out of the story. Fortunately, Gerritsen’s follow through made the Surgeon real for me in the end, but oh, how I wish I had a stronger connection with him early on.

The Rizzoli and Isles series may never find their way into my TBR pile, but Gerritsen is definitely an author I will revisit.

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