Life Support by Tess Gerritsen
Pocket Star Books, 1997
Suspense/Thriller; 372 pgs
First Sentence: A scalpel is a beautiful thing.
Reason for Reading: This is my final selection for the Medical Mystery Madness Challenge.
From the Publisher: New York Times bestselling author Tess Gerritsen weaves authenticity into another novel of searing medical suspense, as a dedicated woman doctor probes into the cause of a mystifying and lethal outbreak.
The quiet overnight shift at Springer Hospital ER suits Dr. Toby Harper just fine -- until she admits a man in critical condition from a possible viral infection of the brain. The delirious man barely responds to treatment -- and then disappears without a trace. Before Toby can find him, a second case occurs, revealing a terrifying fact: the virus can only be spread through direct tissue exchange. Following a trail of death that winds from a pregnant sixteen-year-old prostitute to her own home, Toby discovers the unthinkable: the epidemic didn't just happen -- someone let it loose . . .
Comments: It was not my intention to pick two books for this challenge which involve the suspicious deaths of the elderly and main characters who are caring for a parent with Alzheimer’s Disease. The similarities between Eileen Dreyer’s Brain Dead and Tess Gerritsen’s Life Support end there. Well, almost. There is a little romance and Dr. Toby Harper is not the type of woman to take anything lying down. She is tough, intelligent and read to defend her good name, whatever it costs. All of which bears a resemblance to the main character in Brain Dead.
Tess Gerritsen certainly has the talent to write a page-turner that is full of suspense. She is also not afraid of tackling serious ethical issues (to give away the ethical issues would give away a major plot point). She succeeded with her novel Harvest, the first book I read by the author, and she does it again with Life Support. Her medical knowledge and research add to the realism of what may at times seem like an unbelievable story--at least a story that a person would rather not believe. The reality of it is just too frightening to consider.
While I did not always agree with Toby’s recklessness, I admire her determination. The strain on her shoulders both professionally and on a personal level as the mystery unfolded was clear and painful to see. The author did a great job of bringing that out in her writing. I wanted very much for Toby to land on top. Dr. Dvorak, the medical examiner, was the perfect balance for the at times high-strung Toby. His reserve and logical manner suited her more assertive flare. The side story, that of Molly Picker the teenage prostitute, pulled at my heartstrings. The poor girl had no one to turn to and was dependent only on her pimp and the kindness of others. Both she and Toby were in a race against time, one for her life and the other in search of the truth.
I was left with a few questions near the end regarding the events as they unfolded, but in general, Life Support is an enjoyable thriller that was both entertaining and compelling. I look forward to reading more by this author in the future.
Favorite Parts: Early on in the novel, just as the trouble is beginning to start, Toby comes home from work, relieves her mother’s hired companion and is planning to go to bed and try and sleep. Instead, she joins her mother in the garden where her mother is pulling weeds. The love and loyalty that Toby feels for her mother could not be more clear in that moment. It was a heartwarming scene.
Another one of my favorite scenes is when Molly and Toby meet. Seeing Molly put her trust in someone and the way Toby responded to Molly gave me a sense of relief for Molly, who I had come to care about quite a bit. Molly suddenly was not so alone in the world.
One of my favorite author's blogs just happens to be Tess Gerritsen's blog and website. Stop in and take a look. She has links to her books and other interesting tidbits you might find