February 23, 2010
Review of The Last Surgeon by Michael Palmer . . . and a Giveaway!
Michael Palmer’s latest novel pits a flawed doctor against a ruthless psychopath, who has made murder his art form. Dr. Nick Garrity, a vet suffering from PTSD—post traumatic stress disorder—spends his days and nights dispensing medical treatment from a mobile clinic to the homeless and disenfranchised in D.C. and Baltimore. In addition, he is constantly on the lookout for his war buddy Umberto Vasquez, who was plucked from the streets by the military four years ago for a secret mission and has not been seen since.
Psych nurse Jillian Coates wants to find her sister’s killer. She does not believe that Belle Coates, an ICU nurse, took her own life, even though every bit of evidence indicates that she did—every bit save one. Belle has left Jillian a subtle clue that connects her with Nick Garrity.
Together, Nick and Jillian determine that one-by-one, each of those in the operating room for a fatally botched case is dying. Their discoveries pit them against genius Franz Koller--the highly-paid master of the “non-kill”—the art of murder that does not look like murder. As doctor and nurse move closer to finding the terrifying secret behind these killings, Koller has been given a new directive: his mission will not be complete until Jillian Coates and Garrity, the last surgeon, are dead.
I have not read many medical thrillers. As much as I enjoy a good thriller or suspense book, I discovered that some medically themed books become tedious with so many medical terms and jargon, turning a relaxing pastime into a chore.
Not so with Michael Palmer’s The Last Surgeon. I found Mr. Palmer’s tale of a surgeon suffering from PTSD, intertwined with missing men, accidental deaths that may be murders and a character that has rightfully been compared with the ultimate literary sociopath, Hannibal Lecter, to be utterly engrossing and suspenseful.
Nick Garrity was a wonderful central character - - traumatized, yes, but strong, determined and most definitely worth rooting for. So well written and rounded was the character of Nick that I could easily visualize him in my mind and hear his voice throughout the story. (In fact, I continued reflecting throughout the story what a fantastic movie The Last Surgeon would make.)
Jillian Coates was a very good match for Nick, both in spirit and intelligence. In my reading experience I have found that some books that are primarily thrillers force feed the romance, causing it to feel overly scripted rather than a natural progression. Nick and Jillian, however, feel like a natural match and their relationship doesn’t detract from the main story.
I also loved the character of Junie and found her to be a wonderful compliment to Nick. She was descriptive and fleshed out and other than the character of Franz Koller, possibly my favorite supporting character.
It may seem strange to feel that someone like Franz Koller would be a favorite character but Mr. Palmer has made such a vivid, frightening , fearful and fearless individual that surely deserves a place in literary infamy along with the aforementioned Hannibal Lector, Dracula and even Harry Potter’s Voldemort, to name but a few. Franz is evil and he is completely free of conscious and yet he’s a fascinating and complex character that steals the show from anyone else on the page. He brings to light our worst fears - - another human walking among us that is completely devoid of normal, human behaviors and makes certain scenes of The Last Surgeon a scary read.
This was my first book by Mr. Palmer and my first exposure to his writing. Despite the medical aspects of the writing and the intense scenes of war and violence, the writing flowed as easily as good wine. And like good wine, I thought The Last Surgeon was worth savoring.
I would highly recommend The Last Surgeon to anyone who enjoys a thriller or suspense novel and, most especially, an excellent read.
The Last Surgeon is available for purchase now through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or author Michael Palmer’s website.
For more information about author Michael Palmer, please visit his website HERE and The Last Surgeon’s Facebook page HERE. Michael Palmer's Twitter page is HERE.
The Last Surgeon counts toward my progress in the Thriller & Suspense Reading Challenge.
Review copy of this book provided by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. In no way did the provision of the book affect the outcome of my review.
Author Michael Palmer is offering a signed copy of The Last Surgeon to one of my lucky readers! Residents of the U.S. and Canada are eligible to enter (with no P.O. boxes please). To enter, simply reply to this post and be sure to leave me an email address where I can contact you. The contest will run through Tuesday, March 2 and I will choose the lucky winner via Randomizer on Wednesday, March 3.