HarvestHarvest by Tess Gerritsen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Succinylcholine. It was used every day by anesthesiologists to induce muscle relaxation during surgery. In the OR, it was a vitally useful drug. Outside the OR, its administration would cause the most horrible of deaths. Complete paralysis in a fully conscious subject. Though awake and aware, one would be unable to move or breathe. Like drowning in a sea of air.ā€

Just when she thinks that her world is heading in the right direction, Dr. Abby DiMatteo finds the dark and seedy underside of her chosen profession and the people she thought she knew.

I LOVED Harvest! Let us just go ahead and get that out-of-the-way right now. The scenes are vivid. The characters are complex. The science is pristine. Even the medical jargon was used in such a way that it was not at all off-putting and fit seamlessly into the story.

There are SOOO very many good things to say about this novel. It is unputdownable. The opening scene depicts a horror that is so vivid as to make a person cringe, and then turn page after page to figure out how it has come to harvesting organs from children and who is behind it.

“One can teach a monkey how to operate. The trick is teaching him when to operate.”

This is a book about how reality comes down to bitch slap us when we least expect it. Dr. DiMatteo is a great doctor getting a coveted job. She dates the perfect man. She has a professional plan that is going great. But despite her perfect life, she still is a very likable character from the get go. She is honest and genuine. And when she discovers something hinky in the transplant world (view spoiler), she decides to take action.

“I used to think I was standing on such solid ground. If I wanted something badly enough, I just worked like hell for it. Now I can’t decide what to do, which move to make. All the things I counted on aren’t there for me anymore.ā€

However, Abby’s action has led to negative impacts in her life that simply do not make sense. The more that people push her, the stronger her conviction that something just is not right…not right in her man and not right in her fellowship. Suddenly, Abby finds herself confronted with whether or not the perfect life is so perfect for her after all.

There are a couple tinsy downsides. The book was written in the mid 90s…and you can tell. There are references to VCRs and televisions that obviously date the novel. Also, one of the most compelling characters of the book–the little boy, Yakov– was too much in the background. I wanted, needed to know what was going on with our young, cunning friend. More than once I went looking for his story and had to back track. While I loved Abby, I also loved Yakov. More Yakov interspersed with the Abby would have been fantastic.

Still, overall this is a fantastic medical thriller!