The Last Surgeon

The Last Surgeon

by Michael Palmer
3.8 125

Hardcover(First Edition)

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The Last Surgeon by Michael Palmer


Michael Palmer's latest novel pits a flawed doctor against a ruthless psychopath who has made murder his art form. Surgeon Dr. Nick Garrity, a vet suffering from PTSD—post-traumatic stress disorder—spends his days and nights dispensing medical treatment from a mobile clinic to the homeless in D.C. and Baltimore. In addition, he is constantly on the lookout for his best friend, Umberto Vasquez, who was plucked from the streets four years ago for a secret military mission and has not been seen since.

Psychiatric nurse Jillian Coates wants to find his siter's killer. The police ruled her death a suicide, but Jillian does not believe that Belle Coates, and ICU nurse, took her own life, even though every bit of evidence indicates that she did. Belle has left a subtle clue that connects her with Nick Garrity—a clue that only Jillian can decipher.

Together, Nick and Jillian determine that each of those involved in a fatally botched case in an operating room three years ago is dying one by one. Their discoveries pit them against genius Franz Koller, the highly paid master of the "non-kill"—the art of murder that does not look like murder. As doctor and nurse move closer to findings the terrifying secret behind these killings Koller has been given a new directive: His mission will not be complete until Jillian Coates and Nick Garrity, the last surgeon, are dead.

Tense, thrilling, and filled with the insider details that are Michael Palmer's hallmark, The Last Surgeon will hold you captive...until the last page.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312587499
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 02/16/2010
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 373
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Michael Palmer (1942-2013) wrote internationally bestselling novels of medical suspense, including The First Patient, The Second Opinion, The Last Surgeon, A Heartbeat Away, Oath of Office and Political Suicide. His book Extreme Measures was adapted into a movie starring Hugh Grant and Gene Hackman. His books have been translated into thirty-five languages. Palmer earned his bachelor's degree at Wesleyan University, and he attended medical school at Case Western Reserve University. He trained in internal medicine at Boston City and Massachusetts General Hospitals. He spent twenty years as a full-time practitioner of internal and emergency medicine. In addition to his writing, Palmer was an associate director of the Massachusetts Medical Society Physician Health Services, devoted to helping physicians troubled by mental illness, physical illness, behavioral issues, and chemical dependency. He lived in eastern Massachusetts.

Read an Excerpt


"Nick, Nick, throw it here! Come on, let it go!"

Nick Garrity cocked his right arm and lofted a perfect spiral to the gangly youth waiting across the yard. The boy, who would have been happy to keep playing until midnight, gathered in the pass effortlessly and immediately threw it back.

"Okay, that's it, Reggie. I gotta take Chance for a run and then get ready for work."

"One more pass. Just one more. After dinner I'll go over to your place and take Chance out. Promise."

Through the gloom of what was going to be a stormy evening, Nick could feel the boy's energy and see his enthusiasm. A drug-addicted mother, a long-gone father, time in juvenile detention for a crime no one seemed willing to talk about, seven years in a sequence of foster homes, and the kid was still upbeat and great to be around.

How in the hell do you do it? Nick wondered.

For most of the week, Nick's mood had been as somber as the prestorm sky. And as usual, there was no reason—at least not on the surface—to explain it. A night in the Helping Hands RV would improve his flagging morale. It usually did.

He made a final throw, handled as easily as most of the others, and then motioned for Reggie to come in.

"Come on, big guy. I've got to leave soon."

"So, where're you goin' tonight, Nick? D.C.?"

"I think so. Junie keeps track of that."

"Can I come?"

"It's a school night, and you promised to deal with Second Chance. Remember, don't let him off the leash or he'll see a squirrel and chase it to the moon. Greyhounds are bred to chase little furry animals. Use the long leash if you're going to throw him his Frisbee."

"How about I go with you tomorrow?"

"We'll see."

"I never get to do anything exciting."

"Yes, you do. Staying out of trouble is exciting."

Reggie punched Nick playfully in the side.

Nick put his arm around the youth's shoulders and walked with him to the back door. The modest one-family, with three bedrooms and a finished basement, was located in the Carroll Park section of Baltimore. Nick had lived there with June Wright and her husband, Sam, for a few months before renting the first floor of a refurbished two-family down the street, close to the park. Not long after the move, Reggie Smith, now fourteen, had taken over the basement bedroom.

A sequence of kids were constantly coming and going through the Wright household, including the six-year-old Levishefsky twins, Celeste and Bethany, who had been there for almost a year now. If one looked up "saint" in any encyclopedia, pictures of Junie, a sixty-year-old nurse, and Sam, a DPW worker, might well be there.

Since Junie would be working the RV tonight with Nick, her husband would be doing the cooking. The couple had children of their own, and grandchildren as well, but at every stage of their lives together, they had added foster children to the mix.

The Helping Hands RV was parked on the street by the Wrights' house. It was an aging thirty-four-foot mobile home converted into a general medical clinic. Nick loped past it on the way to his apartment. At six-foot-one, with broad shoulders and a solid chest, he still moved like the running back he had been in college before an illegal block had taken out most of his anterior cruciate ligament. Now the repaired knee was serviceable, but hardly ready to absorb a major hit.

Nick's father, once a football player himself, was a retired GP. The option of moving to the family home in Oregon was always available to Nick, but had never been one he had considered seriously. In general, his parents were decent, understanding people, though not about their only son. There was no reason to expect they would be. In that same encyclopedia, at least in their library, his picture might have been inserted next to the word "disappointment."

"This is our son, trauma surgeon Dr. Nick Garrity," they had introduced him on more than one occasion during the years when he was their golden child, "and this is his sister."

Nearing his apartment, Nick heard the low rumble of thunder in the distance, sounding like a truck engine slowly coming to life.

He tensed at the sound.

He always would.

Nick's duplex would never be featured in Architectural Digest, but that was fine by him. Oak floors, a variety of posters from the local art store, plus curtains and a few plants gave the place an airy, comfortable feel. He was bent over beside the mail slot, scooping up circulars and bills from the floor, when he was hit from behind hard enough to drive his forehead into the door. He turned, knowing what to expect. Second Chance sat, head cocked, panting around the red Frisbee in his mouth.

"I'm running behind," Nick said, rubbing at his forehead, half expecting blood. "Reggie's going to take you out."

The dog pointed his snout toward the door and shifted his behind.

"No go, pal. Gotta shower."

They had been a team for almost two years, dating back to the first and only time Nick had ever been to a dog track. Lost in thoughts about Sarah, he had been on an aimless drive that ended at a casino in West Virginia. After an hour losing at the slots, he wandered over to the adjacent Tri-State track. He was in the midst of a particularly difficult time, when self-destructive thoughts had once again been seeping into his mind.

Damn PTSD.

Second Chance, a long shot in the fifth race and a natural bet for Nick, had been well in the lead when he suddenly slowed dramatically. Twenty yards from the finish, he was trampled by seven dogs as they passed over and around him, and was left nearly motionless in the dust.

An hour later, Nick and the greyhound had claimed one another at the adoption tent, where the dog's sleazy trainer tried to convince the Army trauma surgeon that Chance's uneven, lurching gait was due to nothing more than a minor concussion. Back home, the "concussion" responded dramatically when Nick, assisted by Reggie, Sam, and two Army buddies, cleaned densely packed dirt from each of the greyhound's ear canals.

Of all the therapies Nick had tried in his battle against post-traumatic stress disorder, Second Chance's presence in his life was the most consistently effective.

There were days when Nick was able to fit in some calisthenics and weights before going out on the road, but tonight, after playing catch with Reggie, there was just no time. He showered and was dressing in his usual work uniform, jeans and a faded work shirt, when he glanced over at a printout he had taped to the wall beside his bed listing the ten levels of SUDS—the Subjective Units of Disturbance Scale he used to estimate his mood at any given time. This evening seemed like a five: Moderately upset, uncomfortable. Unpleasant feelings are still manageable with some effort.

Progress, that's all he and Dr. Deems had decreed he should shoot for—just a little progress each day. Days like today, even after all these years, it was difficult to tell whether or not he was succeeding. He spent a minute patting and scratching Chance, and then pulled on a Windbreaker and headed out the door.

The thunder was louder now.

THE LAST SURGEON. Copyright 2010 by Michael Palmer.

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The Last Surgeon 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 122 reviews.
CBH More than 1 year ago
A killer that is contracted for non-kill killing? Sounds strange, but that is what someone is doing to seemingly unrelated people in different locations. Belle Coates is a beautiful top nurse and can't believe or realize that someone that has kept her mind working but refusing to allow her body to react has placed her in a dazed condition. "This can't be happening to me" goes through Belle's mind. The story is recreated in several more that also thought it couldn't be occurring to them; but it was. On the surface there seemed to be no connection to any of these deaths. The authorities didn't even connect any of them and the cause of death generally was termed to be suicide. Nick Gerrity is one of many veterans that came home with P.T.S.D. (Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome) from war and was battling the bodily and mental disturbances it caused, usually when stress is involved but sometimes just on its own. Nick was an excellent surgeon but his life was not fulfilled just working in a hospital and, besides, his P.T.S.D. was telling him he needed to find a way to help others medically and other veterans attempt to regain a near normal life. Nick joined with a top nurse, Junie, who had been raised in the projects of Baltimore and wished to also help those less fortunate than she had been. They started a traveling RV when the foundation that Junie had worked for went under. She formed a corporation with Nick as CEO and Junie as Chair of the Board. She also arranged to purchase the RV for $1.00 so they could help unfortunates that needed medical attention. When Nick's best friend disappeared, his mind wondered and Junie did all she could to help Nick search for Umberto and still keep his mind on the traveling hospital. The first person that we know of that was killed, Belle Coates, had an older sister, Jillian, who was devastated by the death of her sister and questioned how Belle could ever commit suicide. Nick and Jillian eventually get together and fell for each other. They also work together trying to solve the increasing murders that now seem to be connected by a few threads. Thus lays the groundwork for Michael Palmer's "The Last Surgeon" that is a very riveting suspense story containing many facets of medical conditions, care, research, and all working on finding those affected with P.T.S. D. and helping them, along with the poor and still keep the traveling hospital above ground financially. If the minute description of this book above doesn't make you want to read this excellent story, nothing will move you to do much of anything! I have read several of Michael Palmer's books and enjoyed them very much but this one tops them all. He has put together so many subjects while keeping the reader informed so they do not get lost. Thank you Michael Palmer.
grumpydan More than 1 year ago
"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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"I know you can't believe this is happening, Ms. Coates, but I assure you it is. I have been paid, and paid very well, to kill you." - The Last Surgeon, Prologue, Page 1. From the very first sentence, New York Times Bestselling Author Michael Palmer captures the reader's attention with no intention of release. In fact, it is advisable to keep water and food nearby as it is tempting to read "one more chapter" rather than to prepare dinner. Palmer's latest medical thriller involves Dr. Nick Garrity, former trauma surgeon and victim of PTSD, searching for his missing friend, Lieutenant Umberto Vasquez, with whom he served in Afghanistan. Fate introduces him to psych nurse Jillian Coates, searching for the killer of her sister, Belle Coates, refusing to believe that Belle's death was a suicide. The combination of the two forces results in a story that stimulates the mind, challenges the emotions and satiates the imagination. Among other factors, Palmer makes us realize that it is not the government we should be concerned with - it is the people within. The reader also questions the value of human life - more importantly, who has the right to decide. A timely book destined to be embraced by book clubs, The Last Surgeon makes us question our loyalty - whether it be to our friends, to our patients or to our country. The ending is nothing less than explosive - an ending, that is, to a masterful performance.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Former battlefield trauma surgeon Dr. Nick Garrity suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder following a suicide attack on his field hospital in Afghanistan. Back home in Baltimore, Nick runs the Helping Hands RV mobile clinic that provides medical care to the homeless while struggling to contain his PTSD symptoms. At the same time Nick drives the streets of the city, someone kills Central Charlotte Medical Center Cardiac Surgery ICU nurse Belle Coates in Charlotte, North Carolina. Belle's sister Jillian leaves her home in Virginia to uncover the identity of the person who killed her sibling. She soon finds a tie to Nick and his homeless clients; several of whom have abruptly vanished from the streets as if swept away; neither realizes who is spying on them. The Last Surgeon is a fast-paced enthralling conspiracy medical thriller that grips the audience with a need to know why the homeless are vanishing and the professional hit man killed Belle. Nick is a fascinating protagonist who suffers from PTSD while Jill is a kick butt heroine. Fans will enjoy Michael Palmer's latest action-packed tale as the CIA secretly operates. Harriet Klausner
KRag More than 1 year ago
Micheal Palmer has always been one of my favorite authors! This book captures your attention through the whole story and keeps you wanting to know more. While some of the plot was unrealistic it was still a great read! I could not put this book down and I think that anyone else that likes this kind of story will LOVE it because I know I did.
InfantryMO More than 1 year ago
A skilled surgeon experiences a traumatic experience while serving as a combat surgeon when his fiance is killed by a suicide bomber attack on their medical facility. The surgeon is left with PTSD and decides to use his medical skills to treat the downtroden in the Nation's capitol, while battling his own PTSD, rather than enter a lucritive practice in surgery. As he pursues his practice from a mobile home-type vehicle with is creative and supportive nurse, he also devotes consideable effort to assisting military veterans suffering from PTSD in obtaining medical benefits. Meanwhile, the fellow soldier (who also suffered from PTSD, who saved the surgeon's life during the suicide bombing attack, disappears. The surgeon, along with a couple of nurses, uncover a sinister plot while trying to determine what happened to the fellow soldier. The search endangers the key players while holding readers' interest in a series of sub-plots throughout the book. Readers who enjoy a mixture of drama and quick-paced action, will find this book an enjoyable diversion.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyable to read.
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Hello? Alone forever :()
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