The Surgeon Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Surgeon

A killer and torturer of young women is loose in Boston when he was supposed to have died years ago, and it is up to a weary police detective and his new partner to track down the killer and stop him. This is the first book in a series of suspenseful crime novels set in Boston. I normally don't like novels that mix romance and crime, but this one did it tolerably, at least. The main character is police detective Thomas Moore, accompanied by another detective named Jane Rizzoli (there's a TV series based on these books with her as the main character). Thomas is world-weary, handsome detective who is recovering from the death of his wife years ago. When a young woman named Elena is found murdered, cut up in such a precise and skilled manner and her uterus so neatly removed that it's as if the killer considered it art and had real surgical/medical expertise, Thomas is on the case. Joining him is tough-as-nails, unpleasant Jane Rizzoli.
Click here to see the rest of this review

Jane and Thomas use an online national database of homicide and assault information, cataloging murders from around the country. Killers often repeat patterns so this helps the duo locate other identical murders. None are in New England, but some did happen years ago in Georgia, one in Atlanta and three in Savannah. However, the Georgia murderer Dr. Andrew Capra is reported dead, with DNA evidence and witnesses to back it up. He had one surviving victim, and that victim shot him to death in Savannah - Dr. Catherine Cordell, a beautiful trauma surgeon. Catherine now lives in Boston and Jane and Thomas go to interview her. Catherine is still deeply traumatized by her abuse and near-death experience, and is tightly wound, holding all the pain and fear and mistrust in. She is still scared, and she hasn't truly healed. She finally trusts her colleague at the hospital, Peter, to take her out to dinner.

The murderer meanwhile begins to focus on a new target in Boston/Brookline, a sales representative named Nina. The novel has passages from his viewpoint, and it becomes clear that he is intelligent, educated, well-read and obsessed with killing, blood, and power over beautiful women. Thomas and Jane get a psychological evaluation of the killer, and learn that he is obsessed with control and possession of his victims. Meanwhile, a connection is discovered that connects all the murder victims: all of them were previously rape victims. Catherine discovers this because one of them was on her Internet support group for abused women. Jane's investigation unearths a pattern of clues which shows that the killer is leaving a calling card each time, to show his next crime scene. Their investigation is not fast enough, as Catherine is pinpointed as the next victim and there are grisly hints of what the killer has in store for her - threatening message, her personal effects rearranged, and finally a mutilated woman sent to the ER as a "gift" and warning to Catherine. Jane and Thomas catch up with the clues and a financial trail just as Catherine is kidnapped and taken the killer's personal lab - because that is where he works, as a lab technician at the hospital. The killer turns out to be an accomplice and medical school classmate of Andrew Capra, a man named Warren Hoyt. Warren and Andrew murdered together, and Warren continued the trend in Boston, using his job as a lab technician to collect personal details of the women he eventually killed. Catherine is tied up, about to be raped and cut again, when the police search led by Jane eventually finds her in a woods cabin, and Hoyt dies in the resulting shootout.

Throughout the book a very understated romance develops between Thomas and Catherine, and I prefer it that way. There are no wild sparks, just a steady building of trust. Thomas is intrigued by her and sympathetic and protective, and Catherine feels safe with him, and protected by his strength. Thomas marries Catherine at the end.

Thomas and Jane's relationship also develops through the novel. Jane is hard around the edges because of the long history of sexism she has faced as a woman officer, and Thomas is the first person to treat her as an equal. A camaraderie builds between them and Thomas is the only guy Jane lets down some of her walls with. By the end of the novel, they are friends.
Best part of story, including ending: This was genuinely an amazing murder mystery: suspenseful, smart, VERY well researched.

Best scene in story: when Catherine receives an email from the killer and immediately calls Thomas, subconsciously seeking protection, and he immediately comes.

Opinion about the main character: Thomas is feminist, protective, diligent.

The review of this Book prepared by Princess Peach a Level 10 Peregrine Falcon scholar

Ballantine, Sept, 2001, 24.95, 336 pp.
ISBN: 0345447832

    Two years ago Savannah Trauma Surgeon Catherine Cordell informed first year resident Andrew Capra that she was not recommending him for a second year residency. He went to her home and pleaded his case and she politely but firmly refused to change her mind. He angrily tied her up, raped her, and prepared to kill her just as he did to three other women.

    She somehow manages to get free and kill him with the gun hidden under her bed. She survives the attack but Savannah flees to work in a prestigious Boston hospital. A recent spate of rape and murders similar to the ones done by Andrew brings Catherine right into the middle of another nightmare. The perpetrator is focusing on her and unless the police can find out who he really is, Catherine will become his next victim.

    Tess Gerritsen has written a medical thriller that discusses a woman's need to be vigilant against the predators of the world. The story line is fast paced and enthralling in a Cook-Palmer kind of way. THE SURGEON is a multi-layered work with various and fascinating sub-plots seamlessly tying back to the main theme. Ms Gerristen has found her niche in the medical suspense genre.

Harriet Klausner

The review of this Book prepared by Harriet Klausner

Chapter Analysis of The Surgeon

Click on a plot link to find similar books!

Plot & Themes

Composition of Book descript. of violence and chases 15%Planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 40%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 25%How society works & physical descript. (people, objects, places) 20% Tone of story    -   suspenseful (sophisticated fear) Time/era of story:    -   1980's-1999    -   2000+ (Present) Kid or adult book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Crime Thriller    -   Yes Murder Mystery (killer unknown)    -   Yes General Crime (including known murderer)    -   Yes

Main Character

Gender    -   Male    -   Female Profession/status:    -   government investigator    -   doctor Age:    -   20's-30's Ethnicity/Race    -   White/American


United States    -   Yes The US:    -   Northeast

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   moderately detailed references to deaths    -   very gorey references to deaths/dead bodies and torture Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

Books with storylines, themes & endings like The Surgeon

Tess Gerritsen Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
2 Ways to Search!

Our Chief Librarian