The Surgeon

The Surgeon

Tess Gerritsen

A serial killer who tortures and murders his victims with a scalpel has been dubbed 'the surgeon'. Detectives Jane Rizzoli and Thomas Moore must track him down before he finds his next target.

Evil doesn't die. It never dies. It just takes on a new face, a new name. Just because we've been touched by it once, it doesn't mean we're immune to ever being hurt again. Lightning can strike twice.

A best-selling medical thriller, The Surgeon introduces Gerritsen’s hard-nosed female detective Jane Rizzoli, a character who has led a series of best-selling thrillers and a spin-off TV series. In Boston, a new killer is on the prowl; he targets women, slipping into their homes undetected and performing horrific acts on their bodies. The precision and methodical nature of how the murders are conducted has led to him being dubbed ‘The Surgeon’. For Dr Catherine Cordell, this new killer seems too familiar, she finds herself haunted by the memory of a rapist and would-be-killer who she believed she managed to put a stop to two years before. Cordell’s only hope lies with the two detectives assigned to the case: Jane Rizzoli and Thomas Moore.

Written with accurate and detailed medical knowledge, The Surgeon is chilling. Gerritsen skilfully alternates between the acts of crime and lives of the individuals that exist around it. She captures the anguish and fear that is evoked in Dr Cordell, whilst also exploring the complex lives of the detectives, Jane Rizzoli and Thomas Moore’s outside of their work. Gerritsen points out the rarity of a female detective by depicting Detective Rizzoli as the subject of practical jokes and sexist remarks in the male-dominated workplace.

A great read for those in their teenage or adult years with an interest in crime.

How are women represented in The Surgeon?

What are the contrasts between Detective Jane Rizzoli and Detective Thomas Moore?

What features of Warren Hoyt’s personality make him particularly chilling and how does this compare to similar characters in the genre such as Hannibal Lecter?

How does Dr Catherine Cordell differ from the typical damsel in distress role?

How does the setting of Boston come in to play with the novel, could it of been set in any American city?

The use of medical expertise is a clear distinction of this novel from others in the crime genre. What aspect of this in particular builds tension?

What did you think of use of italics to mark the point of view of ‘The Surgeon’?


Detective Moore uncovers an ex-medical student Warren Hoyt as the prime suspect. Hoyt was lab partners with Andrew Capra and removed from medical school for mutilating cadavers. Meanwhile, Catherine Cordell is tricked into meeting Hoyt under a false name. She is taken captive and he begins to draw out his torture of her.

Rizzoli is able to piece together Cordell’s location based on Hoyt’s ATM transactions and the last known location of a missing local girl. Upon arriving at the farm where Hoyt has Cordell bound, Rizzoli hears a scream and goes searching. She examines the property, finding jars containing organs, inscribed with the victims’ names. She stumbles upon Catherine but realises that her mouth is now taped and the scream was a trap orchestrated by Hoyt to lure her here. Before she has time to act, she is hit by Hoyt. He uses two scalpels to impale her hands, but before he can use a third blade on her, next a shot is fired. Hoyt drops to the ground and Catherine falls back, releasing the gun from her hand.

Jane wakes in hospital. Both her and Catherine are recovering from the injuries they sustained and Hoyt is still alive, although he suffered a collapsed lung. Moore visits Jane and the two make brief conversation with Jane suggesting that next time Cordell should ‘aim higher’. The novel ends with Hoyt writing to Andrew, discussing his motivations for carrying out the act against Cordell. He also reads a wedding announcement from the local paper, Thomas Moore and Catherine Cordell are now married.

The Surgeon is the first title in the popular ‘Rizzoli and Isles’ crime-thriller series.

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