Leah Ruth Robinson First Cut

ISBN 13: 9780380791248

First Cut

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9780380791248: First Cut
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Dr. Evelyn Sutcliffe's world is a place chaos, violence, and, sometimes, miracles. Now terror has followed her into the emergency room of University Hospital.

A tough professional addicted to the adrenaline rush of life-and-death emergency medicine, Dr. Evelyn Sutcliffe has already crossed paths with the faceless, cold-blooded psychopath whom the press has named "the Babydoll Killer." She knows what he is capable of, having seen his gruesome handiwork close-up. She survived. Others were not so lucky.

Now, in an unbearably tense and steamy August, a savage slaying perilously close to home is pulling Dr. Sutcliffe deeper into the razor's edge bedlam of the ER -- and to the icy brink of panic. Because all evidence is beginning to suggest the unthinkable: that someone in Evelyn's tightly knit circle of healers -- someone supposedly dedicated to the sanctity of human life -- is a killer.

Someone as close to her as a heartbeat.

Someone who is watching.

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About the Author:

Leah Ruth Robinson, the author of the novels First Cutand Blood Run, is a New York State certified emergency medical technician. She has served in the Emergency Department of St. Luke's Hospital (St. Luke's/Roosevelt Hospital Center) in New York City and taught Basic Life Support for several years at Lenox Hill Hospital, also in New York City. She is an active member on the national board of directors of Mystery Writers of America and is a member of the steering committee of the New York/Tri-State Chapter of Sisters in Crime. Married to writer John Rousmaniere, she divides her time between Manhattan and Stamford, Connecticut. She is currently at work on her next novel of medical suspense featuring Dr. Evelyn Sutcliffe.

From Scientific American:

Adrenaline and chaos are what emergency room doctors thrive on. So will readers of First Cut, Leah Ruth Robinson's second medical thriller, in which political, financial and psychologically motivated crimes combine with vivid E.R. realism to create just what the doctor ordered -- a therapeutic summer escape for lawyerly readers.

Even for a seen-everything New York emergency room resident like Dr. Evelyn Sutcliffe, things seem to be getting a bit out of hand. There's a serial killer loose in the neighborhood, anti-abortion activists have shot a clinic doctor and bombed a bus stop, and Dr. Sutcliffe is inexplicably assaulted on her way to work at six o'clock in the morning. Upon discovering that she knew one of the serial killer's victims, Dr. Sutcliffe decides to seek clues to the killer's identity. When a medical student helping Dr. Sutcliffe investigate is found stabbed in the doctors' residence hall and the serial killer's signature baby doll is found at the scene, Dr. Sutcliffe begins to fear that her life might also be in danger.

And that's just the first 100 pages. As she tends to the parade of emergencies rolling through the hospital doors from one day of an August heat wave to the next, Dr. Sutcliffe begins to suspect one after another of her stressed-out co-workers of committing blackmail, Medicaid fraud and even murder.

The excitement of the chase is tonic for Dr. Sutcliffe, who loves the extreme nature of the emergency room and its crew of "adrenaline junkies" like herself. To her, the E.R. is "the center of the world . . .. Mount Olympus, the temple of the gods. The sanctum sanctorum, where God reaches down from the heavens with a finger pointing at Adam and says, 'Stay,' or 'Come.'"

Refreshingly, however, the book prizes realism over nonstop manufactured heroics. It insists that the practice of E.R. medicine is not one episode of high drama after another; rather, "Contrary to popular opinion, shaped by too many TV programs where all patients seemed to enter the E.R. propelled at 50 miles an hour on their stretchers, with medics shouting out vitals and signs and symptoms, life in an inner-city emergency room could be boring and repetitive."

Even the E.R.'s commotion can be banal: "At 7 a.m., phones were ringing, stretchers were caroming by, people were raising their voices, and patients were staggering around, wanting the bathroom, or their doctors, or their breakfasts. The usual bedlam." The near-disorder of the E.R. mirrors the chaos of New York City, where "[citizens] got pushed in front of subways by crazy people, 13-year-olds shot one another in Harlem; you name it, it happened." Still, Dr. Sutcliffe finds the world of the emergency ward so intense that it prompts "the question that sometimes came to mind after a particularly distressing day in the E.R.: which is the real world, this or the emergency room?"

Lawyers will relate to the constant presence of stress in the book, and might begin to entertain the gratifying suspicion that their jobs are remarkably low-key by contrast. Even without the added worry of the neighborhood murders and related events, the book's doctors are a stressed-out bunch. For Dr. Sutcliffe, it all "shows in [her] face: eyes and mouth full of exhaustion and concern, mascara smudged, lipstick slightly askew." One excitable intern must periodically run to the bathroom to soak his head in a sinkful of cold water, especially while feuding with a paramedic. Another physician's childhood psychiatric history turns up, revealing a worrisome potential instability.

The only truly relaxed character in the book is Dr. Sutcliffe's psychiatrist boyfriend, who calmly dispenses fascinating analyses of each suspect's character quirks and the motivations each might have for committing the crimes. His roomy, air-conditioned apartment provides a physical and mental oasis for the overextended heroine.

Despite the nearly unmanageable demands on her attention, Dr. Sutcliffe remains irreverently amusing in the tradition of many great fiction al sleuths. It's great fun to spend nearly 400 pages inside the earthy and somewhat jaded mind of one who has "endured medical school, internship, a year of residency with four to go, little sleep, bad hospital food, and patients' vomiting on [her] shoes." The book is an idiosyncratic guided tour of the emergency room's singular culture, enriched with entertaining glimpses of the personal lives of the E.R. doctors and of Dr. Sutcliffe, a wise-cracking feminist who loves men and fears commitment. Her edgy wit and ready-for-anything attitude make Dr. Sutcliffe's character and first-person voice one of First Cut's triumphs.

As the book hurtles towards its conclusion, the plot reveals itself to be rewardingly complex and unpredictable. Despite a slightly overlong middle section, the action-packed resolution is exceptionally well paced. For lawyers seeking catharsis and an enjoyable break from the ordinary, First Cut is good medicine.

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9780380974580: First Cut

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ISBN 10:  0380974584 ISBN 13:  9780380974580
Publisher: Avon Books, 1997
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