Sunday 15 June 2014

The Surgeon's Son by Catherine Rose Putsche

'Four teenage girls suddenly go missing without a trace in various locations based in the North and the East of England in a short period of several months apart. 

One of these girls, Gracie Peterson, is found alive in a small wooden box on an abandoned industrial estate, with injuries that are so gruesome even the paramedics cringe in anticipation whilst trying to free her, after Gracie had spent eight horrific weeks in captivity. 

Detective Inspector Marty Bride and his specialist team of detectives, forensic investigators and psychological profilers become chillingly aware that there is a brutal serial killer on the loose who enjoys leaving them various clues to his real identity.'

The Surgeon's Son is a crime novel about a serial killer in England who targets teenage girls. The reader is brought on a roller coaster ride of horror, hope, sadness and joy as the 'Surgeon' unleashes his own brand of torture on his innocent young victims.

The 'Surgeon's Son' is different to many other novels in the genre as it is more character driven and less about the police investigation in general. In most of the crime books I've read the police procedure is the centre of the story and the victims are only a means to provide clues to further propel the investigation to its conclusion. In this novel the investigative team; although an integral part of the story, takes a back seat. The 'surgeon' himself is really the focus of the novel along with the victims. We are given a lot of information about the victims and what they are thinking and feeling, the families viewpoint of having a missing child and quite a detailed look behind the serial killer himself and his motivations. There is a big back story behind him and the reader is left in no doubt who the killer is from the beginning of the book. There are no twists and turns to keep you guessing but there are plenty of thrills and excitement in the anticipation itself of the killer finally being caught.

Because the killer is a surgeon you can expect the scenes between him and his victims to be quite gruesome, shocking and quite detailed in their descriptions. They gave me a shiver just reading about some of the things he did. I was hoping and wishing that he would somehow be thwarted from his evil plans. These scenes would not be amiss in some of the torture/horror movies released in recent years. I didn't mind the gore. It is typical of the genre and to be expected. It made for a thrilling read. 

One of the things that didn't ring true with me were the conversations the kidnap victims had with each other when they met for the first time. I imagine the first thing out of my mouth in that circumstance would not be to introduce myself, apologise to the other girl for what she has endured and promise to come back for her if I escape! I think I'd be a crying, screaming, incoherent mess. The same goes for the unrealistic speech one set of parents give to their dead daughter when they find her. It is just too formal, unemotional and a tad long winded. Silly things on tv make me cry so in this situation I would also probably be a blubbering mess with mascara running down my face.

I noticed some other very minor things e.g the reward money repeatedly being referred to as Great British pounds rather than simply pounds or pounds sterling. The story is set in England so therefore we don't need it explained that the money is Great British. People being offered a hot 'beverage' to drink. Wouldn't most people simply offer a tea or coffee?The schools sounded a bit American. When I read that one of the girls was coming home from cheerleading practice I had to go back and reread just to confirm that it was in England.

Oxford University is referred to by its proper name but when a student is going to university in Dublin the author decides to make up a generic university name for it rather than looking up the name of a real one. Trinity College Dublin was good enough for the Queen of England to visit so surely it merited a mention. Is that too much of a gripe? Maybe

The book was also riddled with bad grammar, spelling mistakes, repeated words and poor formatting. Although irritating and distracting, it wasn't really enough to deter me from reading this book. I can only hope that all these errors were fixed before it went on sale.

The Surgeon's Son is a fast paced, exciting read and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys crime fiction. It is set up for a sequel which will include the same investigative team. 

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