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4.5 out of 5 stars
Life Support
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 26 September 1998
While better than the thoroughly predictable "Harvest," Ms. Gerritsen's second medical thriller still isn't that great. She sets off with a great creepy prologue and builds continual suspense throughout, yet the book is so relentlessly downbeat it's a little hard to take. Basically, everything that could go wrong for our heroine does: she's accused of abusing her mother, all of her allies end up dead, and the whole world basically turns against her. I personally read for enjoyment, and I found it hard to enjoy one horrible thing happening to this woman after another. Maybe people who get off on the endless suffering on "Party of Five" will enjoy it. I don't know. The medical detail is superb and Gerritsen keeps you on your toes, but the book's so painful (even the ending) that I left it more depressed than satisfied. Proceed at your own risk.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
First, a warning. My copy of this book originally published in 1997 includes an `introduction' by the author written in 2006. If yours does too, do not read it until after you have finished the story! In my case I was unaware how much it could spoil my enjoyment, which it did for hundreds of pages because before the tale begins Tess has kind of told you what it's about. Maybe it wasn't her idea to add this piece of information but to be blunt it's a pretty dumb idea to put it at the beginning when it would have done no harm at all at the end.

You see, this story starts off in fascinating fashion in the form of a prologue involving a surgeon about to perform a major operation on an anaesthetised female patient. What happens as he opens up her body is a mixture of horror and hilarity in equal measure, but the reasons for his bizarre actions are almost completely neutralised because thanks to the unwanted introduction, we now know exactly why he did it. What a shame, because this could have been a first-rate thriller if not for that. It's like reading the last chapter of a whodunit mystery FIRST. Where are the thrills once you know what's going on?

Otherwise this story reminded me of the superior HARVEST by the same author. Attractive female thirty-something doctor in a Boston hospital unearths ghoulish medical conspiracy and fights to deliver justice against all the odds. It's pretty good, to be fair, well worth reading before or after any of the Rizzoli/Isles episodes for which Tess Gerritsen has found fame and fortune. Quite a few names in that series, however, appear in this novel - for example there's a Jane, a cop called Moore, a love-interest called Daniel.....any of these sound familiar to you Rizzoli/Isles fans? They're totally different people but it made me wonder why the writer chose to, in effect, resurrect these names in her crime thriller series of more recent years.

Definitely worth buying whether you're a fan or not. Just make sure you give that intro a miss!
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41 of 44 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 23 October 2002
'Life Support' is a fast moving medical thriller that stars Dr Toby Harper, a (female) doctor working in a small community hospital. When one of Dr Harper's patients vanishes mysteriously from the hospital and another dies of an unusual viral disease, she sets out to try and find out exactly what is going on. However, someone doesn't want Toby to find out the truth, and will do anything in their power to stop her.
This is an exciting, original and well written thriller that drops you straight into the action immediately, rather than taking ages to get going. Toby is a likeable heroine struggling to balance her career against the care of her elderly mother, rather than being overly perfect. There is plenty of suspense and some surprising twists along the way, building to a dramatic conclusion when all the pieces fall into place. The book keeps you guessing right through to the end, as it's not just a case of whodunnit but howdunnit, whydunnit and what exactly did they do?
If there is a downside to this book it is this: as with all medical thrillers there is a fair amount of medical terminology involved which may put some readers off. It is an American novel, and the American system is slightly different from ours which also doesn't help. However, I have never had any form of medical training and I did not find it at all difficult to understand what was going on. The other possible downside is that it is slightly graphic in places in terms of descriptions of surgical procedures and attacks, and also quite sad once or twice as well. However, I would recommend it to anyone that enjoys fast paced, suspenseful books.
If you have never read a medical thriller before, this is a great one to start with. I find Tess Gerritsen's writing more original and her plots less predictable than Robin Cook's. If you like this book, you should also read Michael Palmer.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 23 August 1997
Tess Gerritsen doesn't fall victim to the sophomore slump with her second medical thriller, Life Support. A peaceful evening in the ER is broken by the arrival of a delirious elderly man. Dr. Toby Harper does her best to treat the patient, but he mysteriously disappears from the hospital when left unattended. Toby searches for her lost patient and tries to determine the cause of his behavior when another patient with similar symptoms dies under her care. Her concern is deepened when the cause of the patient's death is determined to be Creutzfeldt- Jakob, or mad cow disease. Following this disclosure, Toby is beset by personal tragedies as someone is trying to prevent her from discovering the evil truth and unthinkable research responsible for this outbreak.

Life Support is a fast-paced medical mystery full of intrigue and suspense. The plot-driven story grabs the reader and never lets go. I couldn't put this book down. Gerritsen effectively uses medical terminology that's not over the average reader's
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 4 May 2006
I love Tess Gerritsens books. The medical detail is usually fascinating and the story rushes on a pace. This book has all those qualities but it is literally too busy, too full of different characters and sub plots. Towards the end of the book you have forgotten what happened at the beginning because she has introduced so many new twists and extra characters. This is one of her earlier works re-published. I think her later work is more simplistic and gripping in its telling. You have to be a dedicated medical thriller fan to enjoy this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 25 December 2001
"Life Support" is a spine-chilling medical thriller that depicts the frightening and relentless pursuit of scientists for the essence of eternal youth.This compelling tale consists of what initially appear to be, separate stories, that subsequently intermingle and combine, involving the topical issues of CJD and genetics.During the story, I was intruiged to see how all the individual threads could possibly be linked but all was revealed by the end, leaving me with a sense of satisfaction.Having read other medical thrillers by Robin Cook, I found I enjoyed this one more and intend to go on to read the other works of Gerritsen, such as "Harvest", "Bloodstream" and "Gravity"
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on 9 July 1997
Once upon a time Dr. Toby Morgan lived a calm, serene life even as she
worked on the over-night shift at the Springer Hospital Emergency Room.
Her tranquillity vanishes and she spirals into hell when she angers Dr.
Carl Wallenberg, a medical researcher, who is conducting experiments into
prolonging life at an expensive and exclusive senior citizen facility.
Toby had the temerity to override the egotistical doctor's orders. He
demanded that she return the body of one of his patients to the person's
family. Instead she maneuvered the medical examiner into conducting an
autopsy.

The autopsy reveals that the deceased died from an extremely rare
illness that could only be contracted by direct contact of bodily fluids.
Toby believes that a previous patient, who mysteriously vanished into the
night, also carried the same illness. She begins to investigate, hoping to
abort an epidemic before it occurs. Instead, Toby discovers that illegal
use of fetal tissue gleaned from embryonic monsters are being used to treat
wealthy patrons. She also learns that her knowledge of the practice makes
her expendable by people who do not want their profitable business ended.

HARVEST was one of the top ten books of 1996, but LIFE SUPPORT is an
even better novel. Tess Gerritsen has created a medical thriller that
leaves readers with the creepy crawly feeling up and down their spines due
to its chilling realism. The implications are terrifying, leaving readers
to ponder what next after completing this pulse pounding, natural mescaline
like ride of a best selling novel.

Harriet Klausner
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 27 April 1998
I swear, if something ELSE wrong happened to this woman I was going to throw the book against the wall! For heaven's sake! I can't stand reading repeated angst and this book is chock full of it. Mom has Alzheimers, sisters don't get along, then everything bad happens. It was almost too much. The medical information was almost completely spot on (I caught one goof where she mistook an H&E stain for a PAS stain) and lots of fun to read, though. So, if you can stand a whole lot of angst in your medical thriller, go for it, she's still a lot of fun.
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VINE VOICEon 26 November 2009
This was a good read, but not a great one. To be honest some other books of Gerritsen's are much better, but Life Support still holds its own.

The story was quick and pacy, and the characters believable. Toby, the main character, made you feel her loneliness and the descriptions of her mother's Alzheimers were very sad. However, I read Gerritsen's Harvest a few weeks back and this seemed like more of the same - a female doctor discovering something she shouldn't and then the forces that be try to discredit her. The premise of Harvest, however, was much more horrifying and believable, whereas the plot in Life Support seemed more far-fetched and unreal.

In addition, there was something else that really annoyed me. I have read nearly all of Gerritsen's post-MIRA books and it is the very first time that I have seen her use some medical terminology consistently throughout the whole book without even hinting at what it means. Can anyone tell me what MI stands for? I have never felt confused before when reading Gerritsen, she would always explain all the terms used in a natural and seamless way, but this time the continual reference to an MI without explaining it was really irritating.

I would say that Life Support is OK, but there are better Gerritsen books available that hit the mark better and should be read before this one.
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Life Support is the 10th stand-alone novel by Tess Gerritsen. Springer Hospital's night-shift ER doctor, Toby Harper, finds her job is on the line when she literally loses a patient. The elderly man presents with confusion and apparent seizures, but while the ER staff are dealing with another emergency, the patient disappears. When another patient with identical symptoms, from the same exclusive residential community, with the same doctor, dies in the hospital, Toby wants to investigate further, fearing an infectious cause. As Toby tries to find out more, she hits a brick wall with the admitting doctor and the residential community, which arouses her suspicions. But problems in her personal life complicate matters even further. Medical murder mystery is Tess Gerristen's forte and she, once again, gives us a great plot and credible characters and dialogue. The ME in this novel can, in some ways, be seen as the blueprint for Maura Isles role in the Rizzoli and Isles series. Another great Gerritsen read.
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