Monday, September 24, 2007

Life Support by Tess Gerritsen

Life Support by Tess Gerritsen
Pocket Star Books, 1997
Suspense/Thriller; 372 pgs

Completed: 09/24/2007
Rating: * (Good)

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


  1. Well this one's going onto the wishlist. Thanks! I think... :D

  2. I have 'The Surgeon' around here somewhere but have yet to get around to reading it. One of these days..

  3. The only Tess Gerritsen book I have ever read was The Surgeon. But I really enjoyed it!! I keep meaning to pick up the next one in line, but I just have so many other books to read!!

    Great review!

  4. Sounds good! Oh, my ever-lengthening wishlist...

  5. Thanks for the link to her blog. I haven't read it before and she certainly covers a wide range of interesting topics.

  6. It's been a while since I read this book but I remember liking it at the time. Harvest is probably my favorite of Gerritsen's. Her books are quite suspenseful and hard to put down.

  7. Heather - LOL Wishlists are meant to grow longer.

    Tanabata - I am trying to read her books in order of publication and am sure I will get to The Surgeon one of these days. I knew after reading Harvest that I would be reading much more by Tess Gerritsen.

    Stephanie - I know how that goes--having so many books to read that they get in the way of reading others. :-) We always have the best of intentions, don't we?

    Jenclair - Haha I hope you will like it when you get to it.

    Kookie - She really does. Even though I am not an aspiring author, I do enjoy reading about her experiences and thoughts that she deals with as a published author.

    Debi - Of the two, Harvest is my favorite so far. :-)

  8. I haven't read any of Gerritsen's books but a friend recommended her a while back and I think I'll give it a go. I'll start with Harvest as it seems to be a favorite. Thanks.

  9. Jaimie - She tells a good story. I hope you will enjoy whichever book you decide to read by her. Harvest is great.

  10. I just read my first Gerrittsen book for this challenge and loved it. Promptly bought the rest of that series. Now I'll be adding this one to the list as well. Thanks for the review.

  11. This sounds really good. I have yet to read any suspense type novels and especially not medical ones.

  12. Framed - I was that way too after I read Harvest. LOL I scooped up as many of her books as I could find. It's taken me a little while to finally get around to reading another one of hers though. I haven't read any of the series books yet.

    DebD - I enjoy suspenseful novels very much. Medical ones are probably not my most favorite, but I do enjoy them quite a bit.


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