Sunday, November 07, 2010

The Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen

This summer, I watched a few episode of a new show on TNT called Rizzoli and Aisles.  I liked it, didn't love it, but it held my interest.  I like crime dramas, especially those with strong female characters.  The show is based on a series of books, so I decided to try the books because I love reading crime fiction.

This is the first book in the series. 

The book is okay.  It's well-written, held my interest.  The book kept me company during an especially bad recent bout of insomnia.  (Though one of my students wisely pointed out that that maybe the book was the cause of my insomnia when I told him what the book was about.)

The story is about Rizzoli, a female detective, who has a tough time working with a lot of insecure men.  She ends up on a big case -- a serial killer who slices up women and removes their wombs before he slices their throats.  Turns out the case is connected to another round of serial killings, in which everyone believed the killer had been murdered.  I found of interest the research that went into tracing back the connections between the two acts, or rather, two series of acts.

But I didn't like the portrayal of Rizzoli.  She seemed a bit unlikable.  I also didn't like that is always seemed like the men were swooping in to save her, as well as the other women.  In the end, she did redeem herself, but there was a lot of the book in which it was her mentor who was a bit too much of a hero.  Granted this was the first book in the series and I'm sure the dynamics between the characters changes as the novels progress.

But also, I didn't like the main victim in the story.  I grew tired of reading about her being so very beautiful and vulnerable.  (I notice that Rizzoli feels the same about this character, so maybe it was a way to make the reader relate to Rizzoli?  If so, it worked.)  And it's the same male character who saves Rizzoli who then acts as the victim's protector. 

My biggest issue though was the portrayal of the murderer.  Throughout the story, we're allowed into his thought process, and this bothered me.  I have issues with the idea that these monsters have any sort of rational thought.  I'm not saying the author was trying to justify what he did, because she wasn't.  But at the same time, I have no desire to "see" into the minds of criminals.  Also, much emphasis was placed on the idea that the men involved had perfectly normal lives.  Everyone loved them, they came from great, loving families, nice, polite boys who did well in school.  While I realize that we always hear the stories about how, "no one had a clue" in regard to captured murderers, I often believe this is a case of people simply not paying attention.  I have a very difficult time believing that people from wonderful, financially well-off, loving homes can turn into such gruesome monsters.  Not saying it can't happen, because I'm sure it does.  But in a story like this, I need a little something to provide a better explanation for the horror.  The only deviance hinted at is a bit of homosexual tendencies, which, as you may imagine bothered me.  Because they're gay, they chop up women?  No, I don't think so.  Again, the author didn't directly say that, but near the end, it seems to be implied, and that angered me.

For a while, near the middle of this book, I thought maybe I had found myself a new author, another series to explore, but by the time it ended, I'd had enough.  At the moment, I don't feel compelled to read any more books in this series.

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