Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: The Last Surgeon
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VINE VOICEon February 16, 2010
In "Last Surgeon," Michael Palmer tells the story of Nick Garrity, a trauma surgeon suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, otherwise known as PTSD. Following the horrific events of 9/11, Garrity volunteers to serve in Afghanistan, only to nearly lose his life in the process--when a trusted local running a medical clinic orchestrates an explosion that takes the life of many Americans, including Garrity's fiancée Sarah.

The only ones to survive this tragedy are Nick Garrity and staff sergeant Umberto Vasquez, who miraculously saves Nick's life. Fast forward years later and life is never the same. Garrity quits his private practice, teams up with a cheerful nurse called Junie, and starts running a mobile charity clinic called Helping Hands, giving medical treatments to the poor and the homeless in the Baltimore and Washington D.C. areas, while trying to help other vets suffering from PTSD gain benefits.

His peaceful life is disrupted with the arrival of nurse Jillian Coates, whose sister Belle, also a practicing nurse, dies in suspicious circumstances. Her death is made to look like suicide--a simple overdose of sleeping pills, but Jillian believes otherwise. She sees a suspicious stack of comic books hidden in Belle's apartment, all focused on the character Nick Fury. Jillian locates Dr. Nick Garrity, when she finds out that Nick Fury was his military nickname and suspects Belle's death is somehow related to him.

Meanwhile, Nick is growing concerned with the disappearance of Umberto Vasquez, who, after returning from Afghanistan, turns into an alcoholic and mysteriously disappears after agreeing to take on a special military mission. Nick learns of a man called Manny Ferris, who also disappeared after agreeing to participate in a similar mission--only to re-appear, looking horribly disfigured and mentally brainwashed--unable to provide Nick with any useful information about Umberto or the mission itself.

While this is taking place, Franz Koller, a hired killer who works a substitute teacher in his spare time, continues to kill various doctors who work in the same hospital as Belle. Master of the non-kill, as well as of disguises, he makes his grizzly murders look like natural deaths, while receiving handsome payments from his employer who boasts ties all the way to the White House.

Trying to connect the dots between all of the above events, Nick and Jillian begin running out of time and ultimately turn into Koller's targets.

Overall, I really enjoyed the plot. This is my first Palmer book, so I wasn't sure what to expect. For starters, this book is as much a mystery as a thriller. Readers are not merely led into various action sequences, but are left to piece everything together for a shocking final revelation. I also enjoyed the characters, especially Franz Koller, who is an impressive villain.

The writing itself, while full of medical terminology--not surprising given Palmer's expertise in the area--adds a lot of realism to the story. Given the dishonesty of politics, I was left wondering if something like this could actually happen in real life. Recommended for not only mystery-lovers, but any reader looking for an entertaining read.
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VINE VOICEon February 16, 2010
"The Last Surgeon" by Michael Palmer is one fast-paced, action-packed thriller that had me not wanting to put the book down. Dr. Nick Garrity has been searching for a long lost war buddy when he meets Gillian Coates, whose sister Belle seemingly committed suicide, but Gillian thinks otherwise. A comic book clue "Nick Fury", led Gillian to Nick and together they find clues of a much bigger conspiracy. Soon they are on the hit-list and must not only find out who is behind it all, but keep themselves and others around them alive. Mr. Palmer has written a novel that kept me up into the middle of the night because it was that entertaining.
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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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on February 15, 2013
I read mostly trash these days because I'm old and don't have the stamina
to read really good stuff, but I've read enough of "great literature"
in my life to have set at least a few standards for myself. All of the thriller-type
books out there, with few exceptions, are like popcorn - fluff on the brain.
They're generally soft porn with a bit of horror thrown in. Michael Palmer,
though, has really gone lurid on this one and ought to be ashamed of himself.
If he has grandkids,I wonder what they think of their pop-pop's sick mind
when they read slop like "The Last Surgeon." Vivid violence, brutal sexual
perversion, paper-thin plot, sub-teen characters, dialogue suffering from
rigor mortis. It's all there, folks; read at your peril. Me, my next book
will be "Winnie the Pooh."
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on June 8, 2010
As I read the last few words and closed this book, my heart was racing and my pulse was pounding. I just had to sit there for a moment and reflect on the many issues that were presented in this fascinating tale. Not only does Michael Palmer write well-plotted stories, he builds them around real medical issues, health problems, or controversial ethical questions. In THE LAST SURGEON, the reader learns about the disorder known as PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder, and how it specifically affects the lives of those returning from war.

Not only do many regard PTSD as a phony malady, many veterans have difficulty getting their benefits because of the misunderstood diagnosis. Dr. Nick Garrity is under the curse of this often debilitating disease. He has spent years in therapy and has finally gotten healthy enough to volunteer his medical skills with Helping Hands, a mobile medical RV that serves the homeless and indigent. Yet he struggles every day with his ever-present memories. When he meets Jillian Coates and they begin working together, his hope for recovery is encouraged and we have to admire his character and determination.

In contrast to the admirable Dr. Garrity is Franz Koller, who is probably the most diabolical mass murderer ever. He works for a person/group known only as "Jericho," and his assignments take him all over the country to set up "non-kills" --- murders that are cleverly made to look like accidents or suicides. He finds his work irresistible and has lost track of how many murders he has committed. The pattern of his kills has never been discovered --- until now. And, as Nick and Jillan begin to uncover clues, they come closer and closer to becoming his next victims.

Palmer surrounds his protagonists with memorable characters --- some as likable as Nick and Jillian, others as despicable as Franz Koller. Among the former would be Nick's friends, Junie and Sam Wright. Junie is a nurse who keeps the Helping Hands outreach afloat and, with Sam, has fostered many needy children over the years. Among the latter would be Phillip MacCandliss, a Veteran's Administration bureaucrat who delights in denying benefits to veterans suffering from PTSD.

THE LAST SURGEON is brilliantly written and will keep you guessing until the author is good and ready to reveal the surprising conclusions. Michael Palmer has been writing bestsellers since 1994, and if you have never read one, THE LAST SURGEON would be a good place to start. The action that kicks off on page one never stops until the heart-pounding conclusion is reached.
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on August 13, 2010
I read The Second Opinion and the Fifth Vial and thought that they were passable. I like them less after having read this miserable piece of garbage.

The Last Surgeon is just plain dreadful, with cardboard characters, including a pathological killer who has a tedious running internal monologue congratulating himself on his expertise, a tragic hero, Dr. Nick "Fury" Garrity who is traumatized and oh-so-sensitive, and also quite the Mr. Perfect, and a love interest, Jillian, who is, of course, stunningly beautiful and Ms. Perfect; a caring nurse who is devoted to her dead sister that of course she raised when their parents died.

The plot just sort of lies around and drools, involving a search for an old buddy who went missing (Mr. Perfect) and the true killer of the sister (Ms. Perfect). Nothing too compelling there, no surprises really, no clever twists. Same old conspiracy and brainwashing stuff that you got sick of back when Mission Impossible was still on the air. The search is punctuated by occasional, repetitive fight scenes where the good guy gets slammed into something, usually a wall. The dialogue is no better than a string of pre-teen Facebook status updates. Plus, this book is crawling with adverbs, so many that I wanted to scream, a little like this: He slowly, gently paddled out on the evenly calm water, saying calmly and kindly to himself, "Nicely done."

It didn't help that narrator John Bedford Lloyd read it like a drunken kindergarten teacher's assistant.

I review only audiobooks, and I welcome your comments.
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on January 14, 2014
I like the beginnings of Michael Palmer's books. The ideas are really good and the stories are riveting -- until about 3/4of the way through when some of the events that are happening to the "good guys" get so far-fetched that I found I didn't care what happened next. I will probably not read another Michael Palmer book although I like his ideas and subject matter and his main characters.
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on October 12, 2014
Silly premise for a story. The nurse has more balls then the Surgeon, who is always measuring his PTSD rating. The villain in the story always works alone but suddenly when it is convenient for the plot he takes on two helpers-reply silly. Why do the bad guys always wait to kill the hostage till the 'hero' gets there. Silly. Villain lets himself get nailed, another silly move by the author.
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on January 24, 2016
I thoroughly enjoyed what appeared at first to be a very complicated story. As the tale went along, disclosing Dr. Nick Garrity, his nurse in his RV treatment center working the streets of Washington, D.C., and then nurse Jillian Coates, who became his love, it also simplified. It turns out that this is a tale of murder most foul being committed in the name of patriotism and the raw desire for power. Not a hard thing to understand, the desire for power, but when one seeking power uses a heartless, evil murderer to assist that goal it becomes terribly difficult to sympathize.
This story unfolds from Ahganistan to Washington, D.C., to the area of the upper south and beyond. And it hides from the reader several salient ideas very well indeed. But at last, in the explosive and thrilling ending time it discloses all. I cannot tell you the story here. That would spoil your reading of the entire tale. What I can tell you is that it is entertaining to be sure, a real page turner that grabs and keeps your interest.
I give this book five stars because the author did a wonderful job with a highly convoluted story. It weaves a mystery while making the characters real to the reader. More should not be asked by a reader of a good book. I highly recommend the book to anyone of an age above sixteen and only place that limit on the book due to graphic violence.
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on February 25, 2011
The book is a page turning read. The characters are interesting and educating along the way. A couple of twists keep you turning the page in the fact finding adventure of the lead character. Characters are easy to visualize as well as identify with if you have had similar medical experiences in the hospital. The elitest attitude of some doctors can be recognized by all but the family dynamics can also be understood. Keeps you coming back to see just what new turn will happen in the family of smart and dysfunctional family. I feel this is more a mystery/doctor detective story in a medical setting vs a medical thriller. A book most can relate to and identify with. Will look for more of Michael Palmer's books you can clearly see in his writing the understanding and trials of dealing with asperger'sThe Second Opinion
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