Book Review on Tess Gerritsen’s ‘The Surgeon’ by Ananya Roy

A defenceless woman’s nightmarish and chilling experience with death and disaster.

Tess Gerritsen’s The Surgeon is yet another new novel on my list of to-be- read novels, from the popular Rizzoli and Isles Series that already exists as one of the top-notch thriller series revolving around Jane Rizzoli, although The Surgeon is not at all about the female detective of the homicidal unit of Boston PD. Since time immemorial television adaptations have never really appreciated sticking to the actual story-line rather they had subverted every single thread according to their own wishes and how commercially marketable their content will be not bearing in mind there are still people like me in their viewership, who have read the book and are aware of the actual story-line. Those readers turned viewers are low-key pissed off when deviations become more than bearable to an unacceptable degree of deplorability! Back to our original story, Boston is hit by the rippling waves of a serial killer lurking in the murky shadows of the city, preying upon vulnerable women and ripping them apart. The killer or “the surgeon”, termed ‘our unsub’ strategically and systematically slaughters those women who are mentally traumatized and sexually scarred, gathering information on them from a place neither you nor I could have ever given a thought on it. Can you guess what that might be? The pathological laboratory and database where hundreds and thousands of body samples from blood to every kind of fluid fall under the scrutiny of the pathological personnel. This indeed gave me the creeps making me agonizingly aware of the age we are living in, the kind where you cannot quite be evasive and secretive about anything, they will know whether or not you have HIV or diabetes or the worse as in this scenario, whether you’d been through the throes of sexual assault. Your most intimate details related to your body which you think you’re the only one to be aware of is known to a stranger who not only deals with those very samples on an everyday basis but also aware of the details, you’d rather keep mum about.

Women all across the city stretching from all the corners and cardinals in Boston are murdered one by one, where the killer at first sedates the victim using Rohypnol and then continues with the final act of utter monstrosity taking their wombs for souvenirs. How dastardly a perpetrator has to be to be this inhuman as he finally delivers the “coup de grace” with a final slash along the neck severing the jugular forcing the heart to run out of blood, finally to drop them dead! A similar set of killings is traced to have begun in Savannah two years from the inception of the ones in Boston only to have an eerie resemblance with the procedure of the harvest. What strikes as odd is the fact that the Savannah killer was already dead but the extent to which the murders are being imitated and replicated is something to be paid attention to and needs to be solved as the murder details related to the preceding set had never been divulged to the media. What made the case even more eye-grabbing is the involvement of the woman who had managed to evade death at the hands of the Savannah killer by shooting him dead while at the same time earning the interest of the Boston Surgeon.

The novel is a one with the pace of a trotting and galloping horse, very fast and riveting to the very end. Every nuance of the plot is brought out in the sharp light of reality where wolves in sheep skin lurking in the shadow of feigned innocence hiding their terrifying insanity makes us ponder just how deceptive the surface can be? Just how illusory the face of someone can be that everybody seems to be aware of the vicious monster that cowers beneath the surface of pretentious goodness?! The profession and field which is considered to be so highly esteemed can produce such barbaric, mentally and morally corrupt men is beyond the comprehensive ability of normal people like you and me. This novel despite being a fiction is not at all isolated from the reality of the world where the world had been witness to the heinous acts of Ted Bundy and his likes. Men good and bad have always existed, but how to differentiate between the real and the deceiving? Well, that’s tough, one thing is clear as the winter sky is that as long as life on earth exists evils like these would continue to live side by side as well.

Gerritsen, a professional herself in the field of medical science does a mighty fine job in crafting a superb work for a debutante crime and thriller writer. The novel would allow one very little chance to criticize and find faults with as I had thoroughly enjoyed her first ever crime thriller.

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