I don't think I can agree with Stephen King's assessment of Tess Gerritsen about her being better than Michael Crichton. While I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Surgeon, it wasn't challenging for me at all. That's not saying that Gerritsen isn't a good writer. The fact alone that I could actually sit and read her book proved that she's not just some genre schmuck who's looking to make a quick buck by creating a following. Am I part of that following? Well, I'm not going to start a fansite or start writing fanfic any time now, if that's what you're wondering.
No, reading The Surgeon did offer up a challenge by not allowing me to know too much of the story before I needed it. Gerritsen didn't grab me by the hand and led me through every sentence, every paragraph, page, chapter. She didn't start off the book by telling me exactly where she was going. Hell, we don't even learn the killer's identity until the very end, never once bringing him up as a background character like so many are wont to do.
I was left guessing at the central characters presented in the novel before hand. It's what we were told to do when reading mystery/thriller/suspense novels, right? The bad guy is always one of the people presented to you, usually the least expected character as the most suspected would be too obvious.
But The Surgeon isn't anything like some dime-store cliche. In the novel, the main person of interest has been dead for two years. Killed by one of his victims, Dr. Catherine Cordell. From the ashes, a killer returns; preying on the vulnerable women, all the while zeroing in on the one who got away.
The novel is part detective, part romance - minus all the Harlequin cliches - but entirely worth the read. While it might not be as challenging as Crichton novel - for me, anyway - I'm sure other novels by Gerritsen will find their home on my shelves.
The question is, am I ready to eat my words? We'll soon find out after I start reading The Apprentice. Until next time, keep on huntin'.