In April came the rains. In August came the heat. In November came the horror. It’s paying a return visit.
Lapped by the gentle waters of Locust Lake, the small resort town of Tranquility, Maine, seems like the perfect spot for Dr Claire Elliot to shelter her adolescent son, Noah, from the temptations of the big city and the lingering memory of his father’s death. And she’s hopeful that she can earn the trust of the town as she builds a new practice. But all her plans unravel with the onset of winter when a rash of teenage violence, far more deadly than anything she’d encountered in the city, erupts in the local school.
As she tries to find a medical explanation for this murderous epidemic, Claire stumbles upon an insidious evil which has blighted the town’s past and threatens its future. Fearful that Noah, too, is at risk, she must race to prove her theory before everything she loves is destroyed.
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
‘Tess Gerritsen is an automatic must-read in my house’
’A Crichton-like medical thriller set on Stephen King’s home turf’
‘Weirdly terrific stuff with a steel grip. Doc Gerritsen’s mastery… may give the reader gray hairs’
‘Gerritsen has hit another home run for the summer reading team’
US Library Journal
Tess Gerritsen studied medicine at the University of California, and was awarded her MD in 1979. After completing her internship she practised as a doctor in Honolulu, Hawaii. While on maternity leave Gerritsen first started writing and in 1987 her first novel, Call After Midnight, was published. However, it was Harvest, Gerritsen’s first medical thriller, which brought her major commercial success on its publication in 1996. It was a New York Times bestseller and was translated into twenty foreign languages. With later successes including Bloodstream, Gravity, The Surgeon and The Apprentice, Tess Gerritsen is now recognised as one of the forerunners in the field of gripping medical thrillers. She lives in Maine, with her family, and in her free time plays fiddle with the Tattered Tartans.
‘Someone’s going to get hurt out there,’ said Dr Claire Elliot, looking out her kitchen window. Morning mist, thick as smoke, hung over the lake, and the trees beyond her window drifted in and out of focus. Another gunshot rang out, closer this time. Since first light, she’d heard the gunfire, and would probably hear it all day until dusk, because it was the first day of November. The start of hunting season. Somewhere in those woods, a man with a rifle was tramping around half-blind through the mist as imagined shadows of white-tailed deer danced around him.
‘I don’t think you should wait for the bus,’ said Claire. ‘I’ll drive you to school.’
Noah, hunched at the breakfast table, said nothing.
He scooped up another spoonful of Cheerios and slurped it down. Fourteen years old, and her son still ate like a two-year-old, milk splashing on the table, crumbs of toast littering the floor around his chair. He ate without looking at her, as though to meet her gaze was to come face to face with Medusa. And what difference would it make it he did look at me, she thought wryly. My darling son has already turned to stone.
She said again, ‘I’ll drive you to school, Noah.’
‘That’s okay. I’m taking the bus.’ He stood up and grabbed his backpack and skateboard.
‘Those hunters out there can’t possibly see what they’re shooting at. At least wear the orange hat. So they won’t think you’re a deer.’
‘But it looks so dorky.’
‘So you can take it off on the bus. Just put it on now.’ She took the knit cap from the mitten shelf and held it out to him.
He looked at it, then finally, at her. He had sprouted up several inches in just one year, and now they were the same height, their gazes meeting. She wondered if Noah was as acutely aware of their new physical equality as she was. Once she could hug him and a child would hug back. Now the child was gone, his softness resculpted into muscle, his face narrowed to a sharp new angularity.
‘Please,’ she said, still holding out the cap.
At last he sighed and jammed the cap over his dark hair. She had to suppress a smile; he did look dorky.
He had already started down the hallway when she called out: ‘Good-bye kiss?’
With a look of exasperation, he turned to give her the barest peck on the cheek, and then he was out of the door.
No hugs anymore, she thought ruefully as she stood at the window and watched him trudge toward the road. It’s all grunts and shrugs and awkward silences.
He stopped beneath the maple tree at the end of the driveway, pulled off the cap, and stood with his hands in his pockets, shoulders hunched against the cold. No jacket, just a thin gray sweatshirt against a thirty-seven-degree morning. It was cool to be cold. She had to resist the urge to run outside and bundle him into a coat.
Claire waited until the school bus appeared. She watched her son climb aboard without a backward glance, saw his silhouette move down the aisle and take a seat beside another student – a girl. Who is that girl? She wondered. I don’t know the names of my son’s friends anymore. I’ve shrunk to just a small corner of his universe. She knew this was supposed to happen, the pulling away, the child’s struggle for independence, but she was not prepared for it. The transformation had occurred suddenly, as though a sweet boy had walked out of the house one day, and a stranger had walked back in. You’re all I have left of Peter. I’m not ready to lose you as well.
The bus rumbled away.
Claire returned to the kitchen and sat down to her cup of lukewarm coffee. The house felt hollow and silent, a home still in morning. She sighed and unrolled the weekly Tranquility Gazette. HEALTHY DEER HERD PROMISES BOUNTIFUL HARVEST, announced the front page. The hunt was on. Thirty days to bag your deer.
Outside, another gunshot echoed in the woods.
She turned the page to the police blotter. There was no mention yet of last night’s Halloween disturbance, or of the seven rowdy teenagers who’d been arrested for taking their annual trick-or-treating too far. But there, buried among the reports of lost dogs and stolen firewood, was her name, under VIOLATIONS: ‘Claire Elliot, age forty, operating vehicle with expired safety sticker.’ She still hadn’t brought the Subaru in for its safety inspection; today she’d have to drive the truck instead, just to avoid getting another citation. Irritably she flipped to the next page and was scanning the day’s weather forecast – cold and windy, high in the thirties, low in the twenties – when the telephone rang.
She rose to answer it. ‘Hello?’
‘Dr Elliot? This is Rachel Sorkin out on Toddy Point Road. I’ve got something of an emergency out here. Elwyn just shot himself.’
‘You know, that idiot Elwyn Clyde. He came trespassing on my property, chasing after some poor deer. Killed it too – a beautiful doe, right in my front yard. These stupid men and their stupid guns.’
‘What about Elwyn?’
‘Oh, he tripped and shot his own foot. Serves him right.’
‘He should go straight to the hospital.’
‘Well you see, that’s the problem. He doesn’t want to go to the hospital, and he won’t let me call an ambulance. He wants me to drive him and the deer home. Well, I’m not going to. So what should I do with him?’
‘How badly is he bleeding?’
She heard Rachel call out: ‘Hey, Elwyn? Elwyn! Are you bleeding?’
Then Rachel came back on the line. ‘He says he’s fine. He just wants a ride home. But I’m not taking him, and I’m certainly not taking the deer.’
Claire sighed. ‘I guess I can drive over and take a look. You’re on Toddy Point Road?’
‘About a mile past the Boulders. My name’s on the mail box.'
Back cover copy
The small resort town of Tranquility, Maine, seems like the perfect spot for Dr Claire Elliot to shelter her adolescent son, Noah, from the temptations of the big city and the lingering memory of his father’s death. Claire’s hopeful that she can earn the trust of the town as she builds a new practice. But all her plans unravel with the onset of winter when a rash of teenage violence, far more deadly than anything she’d encountered in the city, erupts in the local school.
As she tries to find a medical explanation for this murderous epidemic, Claire stumbles upon an insidious evil which has blighted the town’s past and threatens its future. Fearful that Noah, too, is at risk she must race to prove her theory before everything she loves is destroyed.
From Publishers Weekly
Gerritsen leaves the urban hospital setting of her first two successful thrillers (Harvest; Life Support) and steps into Stephen King territory the troubled Maine town of Tranquility with mixed results. The former doctor's ability to create credible characters and make medical details accessible and exciting provide the book's strongest moments, as Dr. Claire Elliot recent widow from Baltimore tries to make a go of her new life in Tranquility, where she has moved to get her son Noah, 14, away from dangerous influences. Irony of ironies: the country turns out to hold more savage dangers for the teen than the city ever did. Claire's struggles with the boy, her failure so far to win a place for herself in the hearts of prospective patients and a possible romance with the town's police chief are straightforward and moving. Harder to swallow is the book's premise that savage outbreaks of violence among Tranquility's teenagers occur every 50-odd years, caused by natural or even supernatural factors. It's Claire who makes the connection between recent murders and older attacks, and of course there's the old "enemy of the people" subplot about not scaring off the tourist trade. The fact that Tranquility's teenage problem has a scientific solution lets Dr. Elliot have a final moment of triumph, but you can't help feeling that King would have made the story more powerful and more fun.
"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.
Book Description HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, 1999. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 2259419