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Was It a Rat I Saw Hardcover – April 1, 1992

3.5 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In a highly original debut, first novelist Perry explores what happens when the left brain doesn't know what the right brain is doing. Dr. Clare Austen, a neurologist at Pasadena University, and prize research subject Tommy Dabrowski, a rock musician who underwent split brain surgery for epilepsy, collide in a darkened hallway with a man who has just killed Clare's mentor. Tommy grapples with the killer with his left arm, which is in the domain of his right brain. Unfortunately, Tommy's right brain can't communicate the information it gathered to the left brain, which controls language. More campus murders occur, requiring armed guards for Clare and Tommy until she can figure out how to access the knowledge trapped in Tommy's memory. Marathon lab experiments and close escapes from death lead to romance, to the chagrin of Tommy's New Age wife and Clare's stuffy lover. Objecting to their amateur sleuthing, the Pasadena police move the pair to the top of the suspect list, while Clare and Tommy investigate mean-spirited academics, grad students and even their own lovers. Antivivisectionists receive a nice plug and Perry, despite the questionable caper behind the killings, gets full marks for a neat premise, on the whole lucidly developed, and for well sustained suspense.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Perry, a television scriptwriter, has created a technothriller for the superintelligent. The book isn't exactly a light piece of froth; 19 scholarly research works in the field of neuroscience are listed in its bibliography. Dr. Clare Austen, a neurologist of small eminence, tests a split brain patient--a married rock musician many years her junior--and suffers agonies over their mutual attraction. One side of his brain has witnessed the murder of her research mentor, and it's the side that cannot remember or communicate. Doctor and patient race against time to uncover a ghastly secret, and to exonerate themselves from suspicion in the case. Although long and talky, this unusual mystery on the subject of animal rights will please discriminating readers who enjoy a challenging puzzle. For larger popular fiction collections.
- Joyce Smothers, Monmouth Cty. Lib., Manalapan, N.J.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 437 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; 1st edition (April 1, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385422385
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385422383
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.9 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,004,059 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By M. Ebert on November 11, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was very interested in the topic but the poor writing, grammar and spelling made the book very frustrating and difficult to read. Sometimes the writing was so incoherent I wondered whether English is the author's first language. There were many sentence fragments, wrong or nonexistent words and strange expressions on almost every page, for example one character was described as "lawed and ordered". Please get an editor!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Storyline 4 - Editing 0
I'm really torn on how to rate this book. The premise is very interesting and I generally enjoyed the author's style and vocabulary. As another reviewer commented, there were too many testing episodes that didn't advance the plot; we don't need that many examples of the getting nowhere frustration to get the idea.

The editing was non-existent. I highlight errors as I read, because it is a proactive response as opposed to getting annoyed. I didn't highlight all the punctuation errors or awkward sentences. My end count was 150! A new record high and I probably missed a few. I am gobsmacked that an author would put so much energy into an otherwise good effort and then allow such a flawed copy to represent her.

While I enjoyed this book, I am not sure if I will read another by this author. I think it disrespects the reader to put something this flawed in front of them and expect them to give you good ratings. The 3 stars were for the story.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I struggled with this one. I never understood Clare or sympathized with her problems. Or anyone else's in the entire story. The CONCEPT of right/left brain control and understanding is interesting in a scientific way, but I couldn't keep up with all the different testings and why and how and I finally didn't care. I was glad that all the little tidbits finally did make sense with the murderer. The testing outside the box was extremely gruesome. The only reason I finished the book is that I never let myself NOT finish a book. Won't be re-reading this one. Sorry.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I like this. The title palindrome got my attention, and the well written story took over from there. Good character development and plot pacing, interesting yet not overly technical science elements. Quickly became hard to put down. Happy to recommend and pass this one along to friends and family.
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Format: Hardcover
I've always been fascinated by the inner workings of the brain, and this book introduced me to an area of scientific research I hadn't been familiar with: the split brain. Used most frequently as a prevention against life-threatening seizures, the two hemispheres of the brain are surgically divided, leaving the right and left sides of the brain largely unable to communicate with each other. This leads to interesting side effects, such as when you're trying to get dressed, and your right hand is buttoning your shirt, while the left is following behind, unbuttoning.

In this book, a split-brain patient witnesses a murder - but only with the non-vocal right side of his brain. Through scientific experiments, he and his doctor struggle discover a way for both sides of his brain to communicate and identify the killer before the killer manages to kill again - and they themselves are both on his list of targets.

Full of fascinating true-life medical detail and an exciting mystery, this book is a must-read!
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Format: Kindle Edition
I really wanted to like this book, and for the first several chapters I did. I was fascinated by the split brain phenomena described by Perry; my younger daughter also had brain surgery for epilepsy (in her case, a partial hemispherectomy rather than a commissurotomy), which led to some challenging side effects and personality changes, none of which, fortunately, were as severe as those suffered by Tommy and Cynthia. I think that one of the valuable purposes of literature is to remind us that, no matter how difficult our problems, someone else always has it worse, and Was It a Rat I Saw? certainly convinced me how lucky we were that our daughter came through her surgery comparatively unscathed.

Unfortunately, I soon got to the point where the detailed descriptions of the various tests Clare was running on Tommy were irritating, rather than interesting. It seemed to me that Perry couldn't quite decide what kind of book she wanted to write: a medical thriller à la Robin Cook or a popular exploration of neurological oddities à la Oliver Sacks. In trying to accomplish both, Perry managed to produce neither. The repetitious testing episodes detracted from the pace of the thriller, while the thriller provided an awkward framework for the neurological expositions.

*SPOILER ALERT*

I also felt that Perry set up certain expectations which she never fulfilled. For example, I quickly realized that the title, Was It a Rat I Saw?, was a palindrome, i.e., a phrase that reads the same both backwards and forwards. This led me to anticipate that palindromes would play a key role in Tommy's split brains being able to identify the killer, yet they ended up being irrelevant to the storyline.
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Format: Hardcover
I received a free copy in return for an honest review.

Sue does a great job of taking a very difficult storyline and trying to make it work. While the story is engaging, suspenseful and mysterious, the sheer amount of discussion of process takes the reader out of form detaching them from the quality of the story itself.

The writing creates a vivid mental picture for the reader and draws you into the world. While this novel was Sue’s debut work, I would hope that her more current writing has been able to surpass the problems that plague this one. From the misspellings to the combined fictional prose (heavy medical to suspense), there are many things that cause the reader to stumble and get back into the story for it to work for them.

Overall, a good read that will engage the reader, draw them into a world unlike their own and encourage them to venture down the unbeaten path. I do believe that if this were pushed through a more formal writing process now, the book could be vastly improved and the story structure and language tightened to a position of greater understanding and enjoyment for the reader.
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