(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Trained as a physician, Tess Gerritsen began writing fiction while on maternity leave from her medical practice. Her first novels, published in the 1980’s, were suspense romances, most of them bearing the Harlequin imprint. More than a decade later, a chance conversation with a police officer about organ transplants and Russian mobsters led to the creation of Harvest (1996), first in a line of nonseries medical thrillers that readers and reviewers compared favorably to the work of writers such as Robin Cook, Michael Crichton, and Michael Palmer. Tess Gerritsen’s fifth medical thriller, The Surgeon, was the first to feature Detective Jane Rizzoli, who, in The Apprentice (2002), would be joined by medical examiner Dr. Maura Isles, along with a cast of continuing secondary characters including Rizzoli’s parents and brothers. As the Rizzoli and Isles series grew and developed, Gerritsen arguably broke new ground in crossover fiction, successfully blending the police procedural and the medical thriller, with trace elements of the romance novels with which her career began. Gravity (1999), the last of the nonseries medical thrillers, approaches science fiction, although Gerritsen was quick to remind readers that it was firmly based on solid science. Throughout the Rizzoli and Isles series, it is Jane Rizzoli who tends to dominate the action, separating Isles from such fictional medical examiners as Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta or Kathy Reichs’s Temperance Brennan.


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Anderson, Patrick. The Triumph of the Thriller: How Cops, Crooks, and Cannibals Captured Popular Fiction. New York: Random House, 2007. An examination of the category of thriller, which helps the reader place Gerritsen with some of her contemporaries.

Desner, Lisa M. The Female Investigator in Literature, Film, and Popular Culture. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2007. Discusses female protagonists in modern detective fiction and films. Provides a sense of how Gerritsen’s Rizzoli and Isles fit into the larger picture.

Gerritsen, Tess. “PW Talks with Tess Gerritsen.” Interview by Steve Anable. Publishers Weekly 253, no. 31 (August 7, 2006): 28. Short interview with Gerritsen delves into her beliefs about the nature of evil.

Gerritsen, Tess. Tess Gerritsen: Official Site of the New York Times Bestselling Author. Official Web site contains many useful features, including reviews, reminiscences and reflections on writing; includes author’s own blog, begun in 2005.

Mehegan, David. “Death Becomes Her: Author’s Grisly Novels Thrill Women.” Boston Globe, September 2, 2006, p. E1. Profile of Gerritsen describes the blood and gore in her novels, which feature female protagonists and are enjoyed by female readers. The author describes her motivations for writing.