A friend gave us the old "if you like Robin Cook, you'll love Michael Palmer." Close enough - a medical thriller for sure, Palmer ironically was a contemporary of Cook at Massachusetts General, and has practiced since as an MD for some 20 years. Somehow he found time to start writing, and although his first book didn't make the cut, he got a commission for The Sisterhood, copyrighted in 1982. At the pace of about one each two years, his tenth novel ("Fatal") has just arrived, so he must be doing well.
Unlike the "stretch", if not medico-sci-fi premises of Cook, this story has a very believable premise: that a group of well-intentioned nurses have formed a secret society that very selectively practices euthanasia on "appropriate" patients. Remember this was written several years before Dr. Kevorkian, in just a slightly different way, shed so much light on this subject. So part of the book is a light, but thought provoking, discussion of the morality and or virtues (or not) of mercy killing.
The suspense really picks up when one of these killings goes sour. Subbing for a prominent surgeon, our leading man, Dr. David Shelton, into whose life a lot of tragedy has already fallen, has a recent operative patient die on him. Between the outrage of the head surgeon and the thoroughness of our hero, the autopsy reveals foul play. The "sisterhood" has to go into action to take unusual measures to cover its tracks, point to Shelton as the murderer, and put out contracts on the nurse, Christine Beall, who we already know actually did the deed, and our doctor as well. Literally running for their lives, Christine and David wind up romantically involved as well, just adding to the fun. Before it's over, another couple of murders add to the tension and suspense, and a great twist at the end concludes a very entertaining story.
Were it not for a bit of a slowdown in the middle book area, we might have rated this first novel 4 stars - so we recommend it; and eagerly look forward to reading Palmer's second book, "Side Effects".