Page-turner of the week
Three years ago, Dr. Catherine Cordell was brutally attacked by a serial killer in Savannah, Ga. She managed to escape and to end his killing spree with a couple of well-placed bullets. Now another killer—nicknamed "the surgeon" for the particularly horrifying way he violates his victims—is terrorizing women in Boston, Cordell's new home, in precisely the same manner. What seems at first like a simple copycat case takes on a more chilling tone when the killer begins mimicking details that were never made public—and sending grisly gifts to Dr. Cordell.
The pages of The Surgeon, the fifth medical thriller by former Honolulu internist Tess Gerritsen, are astonishingly blood-soaked. (In the space of a single paragraph the scarlet stuff gushes, spouts, spills, streams, splatters and flows "in a satiny river.") Dialogue occasionally veers toward the trite ("I want my life back," grumbles Dr. Cordell predictably), and the tumultuous romance that develops between Cordell and a detective investigating the murders is thuddingly contrived. Still, Gerritsen delivers a briskly paced, terrifically suspenseful work that steadily builds toward a tense and terrifying climax. The Surgeon gets the job done. (Ballantine, $24.95)
Bottom Line: A cut above