Bantam Press/Transworld Publishers £12.99
Reviewed by Ali Karim
|Tess Gerritsen was a practising doctor when she first published
'Call after Midnight' in 1987, a romantic but dark thriller and since
then has published many other romantic thrillers. Since 1997 her work
switched to medical thrillers but it was really with the publication
last year of 'The Surgeon' that her name broke through in the UK as a
seriously talented Crime Writer.
Tess decided to follow-up this dark and menacing tale with a sequel of sorts. If you haven't had the pleasure (is that the right word?) of getting acquainted with 'The Surgeon' then perhaps it would be better to do so prior to reading this review, as we'd hate to spoil The Apprentice's dark precursor for you. I will also add two other warnings, firstly her twin tales are very visceral and take you to the dark and damp basement of true evil, and secondly, they are highly addictive and difficult to put down.
So it's a year on since Detectives Jane Rizzoli and Thomas Moore secured the capture of the terrifying serial killer 'The Surgeon'. Thomas Moore married Catherine (the only survivor of the surgeon, and an early victim) and relocated to London. The capture of the Surgeon however has left scars deep within Moores's ex-partner - Jane Rizzoli, and as she works away at the Boston PD, she is contacted by a fellow Detective - Korsak, as another case that he's working on, seems related to that of the Surgeon.
I think what really distinguishes Tess Gerritsen's tales are their effective use of character, and how she places her protagonists under huge pressure. Rizzoli and Korsak are an odd duo, that become an even odder threesome when Gabriel Dean of the FBI joins in the hunt for 'The Apprentice' - a serial killer though very different in modus operandi to 'The Surgeon', but is one that seems very influenced by him. Things take a turn for the worse when unexpectedly The Surgeon escapes custody and then this fast paced tale hits hyper-drive.
With this novel, Tess Gerritsen relies (slightly) less on the visceral elements that made The Surgeon so terrifying (and almost made me gag at times). She then uses the imagination to weave a tale that is even more frightening because of the pictures she paints in the darkened recess of your mind. You care for Rizzoli more this time around, as you learn about her family and backstory, and why she is driven to such lengths, and Korsak who initially is pretty unappealing, becomes a figure that you have sympathy for. The dynamics are totally different in this follow-up especially as the tale becomes wider reaching, more global, and I felt a sense of menace right from the second page, when Rizzoli is seen investigating the body of an asylum-seeker that fell from a plane. It is only at the end of the tale that you see a surreal link to the conclusion, and what theme, is actually on Gerritsen's mind.
The last third is stunning, as the origins of 'The Apprentice' were for me a complete surprise, and when the reptilian menace is revealed, then you realise why this very evil serial killer linked himself to his equally repulsive precursor. Then again, I love a story that has a 'grassy knoll' in it, and as far as conspiracy theories go - this is the stuff of nightmares, because there is a certain truth/realisation within this nightmare world, that we are often responsible for our own evil. This book will sell by the bucket load.