It has been a very long time since I read a medical thriller. In fact, some of the first adult books I ever read were Robin Cook’s wonderful medical thrillers. I read them in my early teens, somewhere between my Dean Koontz binge and my first exposure to Robert Jordan.
As with so many good things in life, I’ve found my way back to medical thrillers with Tess Gerritsen’s Harvest.
This is Gerritsen’s first medical thriller (I understand that she wrote romance before this novel), and I’m incredibly pleased that she made the change. I picked up Harvest on the recommendation of friends in my Facebook book club, and I was hooked from the first page. I’ve been going through something of a reading drought over the past year or so, picking up books only to get bored quickly and move on to something else. Well, I finished Harvest in a weekend and promptly bought another Gerritsen novel. What did I enjoy so much? Let me tell you.
Taken from the book’s Goodreads page:
Medical resident Dr. Abby Matteo is elated when the elite cardiac transplant team at Boston’s Bayside Hospital taps her as a potential recruit. But faced with a tormenting life-and-death decision, Abby helps direct a crash victim’s harvested heart to a dying teenager — instead of the wealthy older woman who was supposed to receive it. The repercussions leave Abby shaken and plagued with self-doubt.
Suddenly, a new heart appears, and the woman’s transplant is completed. Then Abby makes a terrible discovery. The donor records have been falsified — the new heart has not come through the proper channels. Defying the hospital’s demands for silence, she begins her own investigation that reveals a murderous, unthinkable conspiracy. Every move Abby makes spawns a vicious backlash…and on a ship anchored in the waters of Boston harbor, the grisly truth lies waiting.
My (not so) Humble Opinion
It has all the ingredients of a great medical thriller: A smart doctor who faces utter ruination, both personal and professional, incredibly high stakes, and deep medical moral questions (who get’s the valuable organs?).
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It moves along at a blistering pace, drawing the doomed Dr Matteo ever deeper into the web of lies and suspicion. I especially enjoyed the counter-point POV offered by the young Russian boy on the ship headed for America. And the way Gerritsen wove their two stories together in the end, while a little predictable, was wonderfully satisfying.
I say the book was predictable, and it was in some ways. However, I think that Gerritsen made enough of the twists her own for the novel to avoid falling into trope hell. Yes, she ticks the boxes for a thriller, but she does it with flair and skill that means I didn’t really mind. I walked away from this book with a deep appreciation of Tess Gerritsen’s ability as a masterful storyteller, and a re-discovered love for a genre that I cut my teeth on.
Personally, this book has lit a bonfire of creative inspiration in my head. I can think of no greater book than one that makes me feel passionate about writing.
Two thumbs, way up!