The RedeemerHarry Hole investigates a mistaken assassination
It makes sense that Publishers Weekly dubbed Tess Gerritsen “the medical suspense queen.” A graduate of Stanford University who went on to earn a medical degree, she’s drawn on her expertise to infuse The Surgeon and The Apprentice, two of her hits in the series featuring Detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles, with chillingly precise details. Life Support, which People described as “delightfully scary,” is just one of her stand-alone medical thrillers. But it’s Gerritsen’s “polished, riveting prose” (Chicago Tribune) that makes her novels—more than 15 million copies sold around the world--a cut above. Retired from medicine Gerritsen lives in Maine, where she writes full time.
The Silent Girl
ALL DAY, I HAVE BEEN WATCHING THE GIRL. She gives no indication that she's aware of me, although my rental car is within view of the street corner where she and the other teenagers have gathered this afternoon, doing whatever bored kids do to pass the time. She looks younger than the others, but perhaps it's because she's Asian and petite at seventeen, just a wisp of a girl. Her black hair is cropped as short as a boy's, and her blue jeans are ragged and torn. Not a fashion statement, I think, but a result of hard use and life on the streets. She puffs on a cigarette and exhales a cloud of smoke with the nonchalance of a street thug, an attitude that doesn't match her pale face and delicate Chinese features. She is pretty enough to attract the hungry stares of two men who pass by. The girl notices their looks and glares straight back at them, unafraid, but it's easy to be fearless when danger is merely an abstract concept. Faced with a real threat, how would this girl react, I wonder. Would she put up a fight or would she crumble? I want to know what she's made of, but I have not seen her put to the test.
As evening falls, the teenagers on the corner begin to disband. First one and then another wanders away. In San Francisco, even summer nights are chilly, and those who remain huddle together in their sweaters and jackets, lighting one another's cigarettes, savoring the ephemeral heat of the flame. But cold and hunger eventually disperse the last of them, leaving only the girl, who has nowhere to go. She waves to her departing friends and for a while lingers alone, as though waiting for someone. At last, with a shrug, she leaves the corner and walks in my direction, her hands thrust in her pockets. As she passes my car, she doesn't even glance at me, but looks straight ahead, her gaze focused and fierce, as if she's mentally churning over some dilemma. Perhaps she's thinking about where she's going to scavenge dinner tonight. Or perhaps it's something more consequential. Her future. Her survival.
She's probably unaware that two men are following her.
Seconds after she walks past my car, I spot the men emerging from an alley. I recognize them; it's the same pair who had stared at her earlier. As they move past my car, trailing her, one of the men looks at me through the windshield. It's just a quick glance to assess whether I am a threat. What he sees does not concern him in the least, and he and his companion keep walking. They move like the confident predators they are, stalking weaker prey who cannot possibly fight them off. I step out of my car and follow them. Just as they are following the girl.
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