Harvest is a classic medical thriller.

After you’ve read hundreds of mystery and suspense novels, as I have, you’d probably find it difficult to get carried away with any book in the genre. By “carried away,” I mean feeling your blood pressure rising as you near the end. Yet that’s exactly the experience I had with Tess Gerritsen’s classic medical thriller, Harvest. This is a truly superior example of the genre.

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

A classic medical thriller about organ transplants

Dr. Abby DiMatteo is a second-year surgical resident at a prestigious Boston hospital noted for its world-class transplant team. Abby frequently has the opportunity to scrub in on heart transplants and other high-profile surgeries. When she learns that a heart ready for transplant will go to the middle-aged wife of a billionaire rather than a dying 17-year-old boy, she is outraged. She talks the donor’s husband into designating the heart for the boy.

Harvest by Tess Gerritsen (1996) 372 pages ★★★★★ 

Then all hell breaks loose. The billionaire goes ballistic and sets in motion a plan to destroy Abby’s career. As she sets out to fight the billionaire’s efforts to have her disgraced and fired, she undertakes a high-stakes investigation of the case. In the process, she stumbles into an organ-transplant scandal perpetrated by the Russian mob. This classic medical thriller was one of the first books to expose the sale of human organs to a wide audience. It’s well-written, beautifully plotted, and heart-poundingly suspenseful.

About the author

Tess Gerritsen, M.D. wrote a series of eight “romantic thrillers” before Harvest, the first of her numerous medical thrillers. The book broke through to the New York Times bestseller list and eventually led to her retiring from medicine to take up full-time writing. In fact, she had taken up a medical career only because her family felt she could not support herself as a writer. According to her website, her twenty-eight books include eight medical thrillers and the twelve novels in the well-known Rizzoli & Isles series. Her work has been published in forty countries and sold more than thirty million copies.

I’ve also reviewed another of the author’s books: Gravity: A Novel of Medical Suspense (An action-packed medical thriller set in orbital space).

This is one of 10 great medical and biological thrillers.

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