NetGalley Top Reviewer

NetGalley Top Reviewer
NetGalley Top Reviewer

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Last Surgeon by Michael Palmer

3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing novel for a medical thriller fan..., June 23, 2010
By Denise "DC" (Missouri, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Last Surgeon (Hardcover)
There was not much "medical" in this purported medical thriller novel by Michael Palmer. I've read his entire backlist, and indeed some of his novels are better than others, but this one was very much not one of his better ones. This book was about conspiracy and secret operations and veterans and only marginally even about PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). The characters in the book seemed flat and stereotypical -- the vet, a doctor, had a fiance who was brutally murdered by a terrorist and thus he suffers the survivor guilt and also the PTSD from the event. The typical beautiful psychiatric nurse, Jillian, who falls for him was such a cliche (far too perfect and the romance was so contrived as to be nauseating). Both of them mostly just annoyed me. I didn't need so much focus on the romance in this book and was looking for far more medicine and a lot more thriller. It just falls short in every respect.

The ex trauma surgeon, Dr. Nick Garrity, actually only works for one or maybe two nights during the whole of the novel in an RV that he and a nurse have developed into a charitable business delivering care to the poor of Baltimore and DC, and to veterans in particular -- Helping Hands Mobile Medical Unit. That is the sum total of the "medical" part in this book. After the second chapter, the story line focuses on his search for his Marine buddy, the guy who saved him from the terrorist, Umberto Vasquez. Apparently the staff sergeant disappeared about 4 years previously, supposedly called back to some secret special operation and has not been heard from since.

The nurse, Jillian Coates, works on the psychiatric unit in a hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina (I think she works maybe twice during the whole book too), when her sister is murdered in what appears to be a staged suicide. Of course she's suspicious. Starts her own investigation. Hooks up with Dr. Nick and then they both start investigating and of course the two events are connected in a vast conspiracy that ends up being pretty much exactly what the reader expects -- and basically sort of boring.

In short, this is one of Palmer's books that you can safely skip if you're looking for a medical thriller with lots of clinical details. It's basically not that at all -- more of a mystery that happens to involve a doctor and a nurse and an unscrupulous plastic surgery clinic and the CIA and well, you get the picture.

Readers -- tell me -- are there ANY good medical thrillers being written any more? If you find one, please let me know!

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