Franz Koller is one of the most deadly villains to grace the pages of a novel since the introduction of Hannibal Lecter. Koller is a killer who enjoys his work and does it methodically with no regard for his victims. He appears in the first chapter of Michael Palmer's new novel The Last Surgeon and that chapter is as chilling as any murder scene ever written.
Palmer has written mysteries in the past, all with a medical background, but this new novel is a departure in its severity and intensity. There are multiple murders in The Last Surgeon and they are all gruesome in their execution. Palmer takes us into each and every scene and gives us a detailed view of the last moments of the victims' lives.
Nurse Jillian Coates and Dr. Nick Garrity are the two people trying to solve the crimes. Jillian's sister Belle was one of Koller's first victims. Her death is staged to look like a suicide but Jillian knows her sister would never kill herself. Garrity is a doctor who is looking for a man he knew from Afghanistan. The man saved Garrity's life and then disappeared.
Jillian and Nick's paths cross and they join forces to investigate the murder of Jillian's sister. Belle had had the name "Dr. Nick Fury" scribbled on some comic books at her home. This was the nickname Nick Garrity was called by in Afghanistan. Jillian thinks somehow Belle's death was connected to Nick or at least to someone he knows.
The pace of this story is rapid and with each horrifying moment that occurs the reader is drawn deeper and deeper into the plot. It is only at the very end of the book that the murders are tied together in a rational way that explains all that has gone before. This explanation perfectly relates why the victims were chosen for execution.
Palmer has always been a good writer but he has never crafted a story as suspenseful as this one. The Last Surgeon grabs you with that horrific opening sequence and keeps you on the edge of your seat as you race to discover what, why and how. The fact the reader leaves the book feeling satisfied is a tribute to Palmer's developing skills as a writer.
This is the kind of book you read with a bright light on and all the doors locked. Franz Koller will creep you out and is the stuff of nightmares. He is the one who puts the chill in this thriller and he does it with a demeanor void of humanity.
If you like this type of story then you will want to grab this book up quickly and start its suspenseful ride. Palmer will have you in the palm of his hand as he manipulates the plot and manipulates the pulse of the reader.
The Last Surgeon is published by St. Martin's Press. It contains 384 pages and sells for $26.99.