The Surgeon and The Apprentice


Format – prose
Edition – paperback
Date of Publication – 2001 and 2002
No of Pages – 416 and 376
Genre – Crime/Mystery/Thriller
Age – Adult
Series – Rizzoli and Isles
Book No – 1 and 2
Author – Tess Gerritsen

In the historic city of Boston, a ritualistic and precise killer is on the loose, targeting lone women and performing acts of torture that can only be described by the professionals as chilling and unthinkable. As the police and medical examiner’s office uncover the first body and begin to investigate, the skill of the murders leads them to believe that their killer is a physician, one who revels in taking rather than saving lives.


When homicide detectives Jane Rizzoli and Thomas Moore dig deeper, they come across a startling revelation. Living in Boston is a witness and survivor of an eerily similar attack, a trauma surgeon by the name of Catherine Cordell. When they go to question Cordell, the last thing she wants to do is dredge up her past and relive the nightmares that plagued her existence, especially since she shot her attacker dead.

However, she believes that the man she killed is stalking her again, and this time he knows exactly where to find her.

A while or so after these murders, Boston is a city at peace, recovering and simmering underneath the summer heat. In true crime-fiction fashion, this doesn’t last long and yet again, the city is hit with a series of shocking crimes. This time it is married women being attacked and their husbands are forced to watch, paralysed and unable to defend their lives – a demand that ends in abduction and death.

The pattern suggests a killer already known to the homicide unit, one off the streets and possibly working from inside his high-security cell. Or that is what Jane Rizzoli believes. Forced to come to terms with her own demons, she is determined to end this torment, as well as the resistance that comes with working within in a male-dominated unit. Only on meeting Dr Maura Isles, a new recruit to the ME’s office might she find a female friendship she’s secretly craving.

With that slowly developing alongside the number of cases crossing her desk, she isn’t counting on interference from the US government, or FBI’s Special Agent Gabriel Dean.

As she plays cat and mouse with the killer, she begins to realise that more is at stake than was previously apparent.

Warning! – these books contain subjects and crimes that could be construed as triggering. They are not for the faint-hearted.


Kickstarting the Rizzoli and Isles series (books and tv show) The Surgeon and The Apprentice are a duology that proves Tess Gerritsen means business. Her writing is fluid, the plots are well-crafted and compelling, the details are realistic and you come away from her books not really knowing where evil is truly lurking.

“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 bring hurt again. Lightning can strike twice.”

Since discovering the tv show a few years ago, I converted to Tess Gerritsen’s medical thrillers and I’ll never look back. Before then, I was reading Patricia Cornwell’s novels and becoming increasingly tired with the info-dumped details, heavy jargon I couldn’t follow, and characters I didn’t care about. The major difference is that Gerritsen presents the medical and crime details in a manner that is accessible and easier to follow, along with creating characters like Jane and Maura who feel and act human.

Jane is introduced to us right at the very beginning in The Surgeon, but it is in The Apprentice where we really get to see her character take shape. She is a tough, no nonsense detective, but the demons she faces also bring out a vulnerable side to her personality. This, in turn, helps her to build a few important relationships that continue to develop across the series. Oh and we also see her family which is great because it proves that those character relationships are just as important as the crimes themselves.

When Maura makes her first appearance in The Apprentice, she is cool, collected methodical, and ready to assert herself in a male-dominated environment. She might not be very prominent in the novel but that certainly changes over the course of the series.

“We dream our dreams, she thought, and sometimes they take us places we never anticipate.”

I also love some of the side characters, particularly Special Agent Dean. I find his character very similar to that in the show and I’m glad that he has a more prominent presence in the books. His character plays off Jane and their relationship provides a few lighter, enjoyable moments.

And shock horror, the killers are also really intriguing. I don’t usually go for sociopathic killers but due to the compelling writing, they got into my head and I can’t stop thinking about them. Characters like that are what makes me interested in psychology because even though they’re obviously fictional, I want to know more about them and why they do what they do.

Characters and plot aside, they are incredible books and ones that are guaranteed to keep you up at night.

Have any of you read them?
What do you think?
Do you prefer the books or the tv series?

Thanks for reading and have a good day!

Published by Emma @ Turn Another Page

Hello, I’m Emma aka pageturner92, and welcome to my little corner of the online book world. When I don’t have my head in a book, I’m either working on an endless pile of crochet or knitting projects, playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons, listening to Disney music, or watching my favourite shows on repeat.

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