Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

The Sisterhood

Rate this book
Inside Boston Doctors Hospital, patients are  dying. In the glare of the operating room, they  survive the surgeon's knife. But in the dark, hollow  silence of the night, they die. Suddenly,  inexplicable, horribly. A tough, bright doctor will risk his  very life for a dedicated young nurse who unknowingly  holds the answers. Together they will  discover that no one is from...

368 pages, Paperback

First published September 1, 1982

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Michael Palmer

61 books130 followers
Michael Palmer, M.D., 1942-2013, was the author of Political Suicide, Oath of Office, A Heartbeat Away, The Last Surgeon, The Second Opinion, The First Patient, The Fifth Vial, The Society, Fatal, The Patient, Miracle Cure, Critical Judgment, Silent Treatment, Natural Causes, Extreme Measures, Flashback, Side Effects, and The Sisterhood. His books have been translated into thirty-five languages. He trained in internal medicine at Boston City and Massachusetts General Hospitals, spent twenty years as a full-time practitioner of internal and emergency medicine, and served as an associate director of the Massachusetts Medical Society’s physician health program. Michael died unexpectedly on Wednesday, October 30, 2013 in New York. He was 71. His 19th novel RESISTANT will be released on May 20, 2014.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
519 (25%)
4 stars
775 (38%)
3 stars
580 (28%)
2 stars
110 (5%)
1 star
37 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 131 reviews
Profile Image for Terence M - [back to abnormal].
499 reviews174 followers
February 28, 2021
This was a disappointment because after I started the audiobook, I discovered it was an abridged version, narrated by J Charles.

Fortunately, none of my collection of Michael Palmer books, other than "The Sisterhood", is abridged.
Profile Image for Shelley.
5,157 reviews458 followers
January 10, 2011
Summary: One by one, patients at Boston Doctors Hospital survive delicate surgery, only to die shortly thereafter--mysteriously and horribly. No one knows why--except the Sisterhood, nurses bound together by a secret pledge to end human suffering--nurses with warped, deadly intentions.

A "Sisterhood" of nurses planted in hospitals all over the country. Their purpose is to end the life of people with hopeless causes, who live in agony every day because their doctors just won't let them die.

This novel focuses on Dr. David Shelton, who is working to rebuild his career after a tragic accident and personal downfall. He agrees to take over his boss' caseload for the weekend. That was a fateful decision as one of his patients died and was discovered to be murdered. Shelton is then up against something sinister among the nurses ~~ The Sisterhood ~~ who believe in mercy killing. Framed for the murder, Shelton is on the run and soon, everyone close to him is dying.

Between the outrage of the head surgeon and the thoroughness of our hero, the autopsy reveals foul play. The "sisterhood" has to go into action to take unusual measures to cover its tracks, point to Shelton as the murderer, and put out contracts on the nurse, Christine Beall, who actually did the deed, and our doctor as well. Literally running for their lives, Christine and David wind up romantically involved as well, just adding to the fun. Before it's over, another couple of murders add to the tension and suspense, and a great twist at the end concludes a very entertaining story.

This book focuses squarely on the controversial subject of euthanasia. Michael Palmer M.D, practices addiction medicine in Massachusetts, so he has first hand knowledge of the medical world.
Profile Image for Mike Adamchuk.
975 reviews
January 21, 2020
Unexpected deaths are occurring in many hospitals. When one of Doctor David Shelton's patients dies of suspicious causes, he begins looking into other deaths. he finds a Sisterhood of Death that is spread throughout a groups of hospitals. The Sisters feel they are helping those without any hope of recovery or a decent quality of life, i.e. euthanasia. The Sisterhood frames Dr. Shelton for the murder. He goes on the run while the Sisterhood tries to cover it tracks.
Profile Image for Priya.
245 reviews3 followers
December 16, 2020
This is a medical thriller which touches on mercy killing and euthanasia.

The book is so well written and believable that it really makes you wonder.

The ending was not complete as there were a lot of lose ends left.

But overall a fast moving and easy book to read.
Profile Image for Scott A. Miller.
504 reviews17 followers
May 9, 2023
4 Stars. Pretty solid for a 41 year old mystery. Medical thrillers are almost always fun and this one held up well. I’ll give Palmer another shot soon. This story could have fit right in with our current time, it will be interesting to see if Palmer keeps it up.
Profile Image for Ron.
681 reviews5 followers
January 12, 2020
It had ups and downs. Not a bad story, didn't like how it ended. Too many things unresolved
Profile Image for Rupesh Goenka.
597 reviews17 followers
July 5, 2021
'The Sisterhood' is an organisation of nurses spread throughout the hospitals in the country. Their prime focus is to help in ending the lives of terminally ill patients who are in great pain and have no hope of improvement. i.e. euthanasia. A rehabilitated Dr David Shelton is working in Boston Doctors Hospital and trying to reconstruct his life after a dreadful personal loss. One of Dr David Shelton's patients dies in suspicious circumstances and the postmortem indicates a crime. The Sisterhood in trying to conceal its activities of mercy killings, incriminate Dr Shelton for the murder. The medical thriller touches upon the debatable subject of euthanasia and the use/misuse of it in the hospitals. The conclusion of the novel is easy to foretell. All in all a decent book. ACCEPTABLE.
635 reviews31 followers
May 13, 2020
This is the first Michael Palmer medical thriller I have had the pleasure of reading. Intense. Interesting. Fast-paced. Filled with one surprise after another. Totally captivating. The characters too, some good and some not, are just waiting to come to life for the reader.
Profile Image for Jerry B.
1,388 reviews118 followers
July 23, 2010
Fine first novel medical thriller by another Mass General MD...

A friend gave us the old "if you like Robin Cook, you'll love Michael Palmer." Close enough - a medical thriller for sure, Palmer ironically was a contemporary of Cook at Massachusetts General, and has practiced since as an MD for some 20 years. Somehow he found time to start writing, and although his first book didn't make the cut, he got a commission for The Sisterhood, copyrighted in 1982. At the pace of about one each two years, his tenth novel ("Fatal") has just arrived, so he must be doing well.

Unlike the "stretch", if not medico-sci-fi premises of Cook, this story has a very believable premise: that a group of well-intentioned nurses have formed a secret society that very selectively practices euthanasia on "appropriate" patients. Remember this was written several years before Dr. Kevorkian, in just a slightly different way, shed so much light on this subject. So part of the book is a light, but thought provoking, discussion of the morality and or virtues (or not) of mercy killing.

The suspense really picks up when one of these killings goes sour. Subbing for a prominent surgeon, our leading man, Dr. David Shelton, into whose life a lot of tragedy has already fallen, has a recent operative patient die on him. Between the outrage of the head surgeon and the thoroughness of our hero, the autopsy reveals foul play. The "sisterhood" has to go into action to take unusual measures to cover its tracks, point to Shelton as the murderer, and put out contracts on the nurse, Christine Beall, who we already know actually did the deed, and our doctor as well. Literally running for their lives, Christine and David wind up romantically involved as well, just adding to the fun. Before it's over, another couple of murders add to the tension and suspense, and a great twist at the end concludes a very entertaining story.

Were it not for a bit of a slowdown in the middle book area, we might have rated this first novel 4 stars - so we recommend it; and eagerly look forward to reading Palmer's second book, "Side Effects".

Profile Image for Sheila.
2,168 reviews175 followers
December 3, 2010
This was my first novel by Michael Palmer and I really liked it. I'm a big fan of Robin Cook and this reminded me a lot of some of his books. If you liked Coma you would probably like the Sisterhood. My having worked in a hospital for over 35 years makes me lean towards medical thrillers.
Profile Image for Brittany.
1,195 reviews25 followers
January 22, 2017
A highly suspenseful thriller just brimming with tension!
Profile Image for Barbara Huskey.
749 reviews17 followers
April 16, 2012
Decent medical thriller. I prefer Robin Cook's writing. I did manage to read this one quickly.
Profile Image for Elusive.
1,211 reviews49 followers
March 24, 2017
In 'The Sisterhood', several patients at Boston Doctors Hospital wind up dead by the morning even though they appear to be on the road to recovery. When Dr. David Shelton becomes the primary suspect after one of his patients dies, he is certain that someone is out to get him. Learning about the existence of a group called The Sisterhood and their practices is only the beginning of a nightmare..

This book started off really well with a suspenseful, foreboding atmosphere that revealed a much darker side to the hospital. Patients are admitted into the hospital, hoping to get better and be discharged to get on with their lives. Instead, some of them never make it out alive. Some of them don't even realize it when their final moment arrives. It was scary especially since it's something that does happen in real life. The thought of a stranger deciding your death is disturbing. The fact that he or she can get away with it - even more so.

As much as the idea of a group of nurses cooperating to end the lives of those who are suffering is truly terrifying, the execution left much to be desired. The first half was everything it should have been throughout the story - engaging, unpredictable and frightening. Unfortunately, the second half displayed a change in the tone and focus. Out of nowhere there were romantic and sex scenes which were irrelevant, unnecessary and unconvincing. Let's see.. you find out that you were being framed for murder and you learn the identity of the actual killer. So you get angry, vow to clear your name or something along those lines right?

Well Dr. Shelton did none of the above and chose to . At that point I got really tired of Shelton and the book as a whole. The action scenes featuring a hired murderer just didn't quite fit into this story somehow. The first and second half could have been two different books. The events leading up to the ending were written in such a way that they seemed rushed. By the time I reached the conclusion I was relieved.

Overall, 'The Sisterhood' kicked off promisingly only to lose its sinister side due to the unwarranted budding 'romance' that was sappy and pointless.
Profile Image for Celestino.
285 reviews32 followers
January 23, 2023
A friend of mine told me about a Michael Palmer novel, selling it to me as one that would revolve around investigations at a hospital where random deaths would happen and the only indication that something was awry was these flower arrangements left in the room with a note. This description reminded me a bit of The Exorcist III: LEGION, which is why I knew I'd read it when I could, which became immediate when it was lent to me. It really was a very thrilling novel that delved into conversations that I feel were very interesting, such as the question of whether is it merciful to give people the sweet release of death, for lack of a better term, while they're living in a state of sickness, decay, and are begging to be let to rest. Should doctors try everything at their disposal to heal their patients? When is it the right call to let them pass and when is it the right call to keep on trying? In this way, I understood what The Sisterhood was all about, but any organization can become corrupted by ideals, which is why I feel Christine is one of the main characters. She just wanted to let people who were suffering rest, thinking it was the right choice, which it can be, but when she saw what The Sisterhood was willing to do to keep their operations a secret, she knew she had to do something about it. The thing was they were generalizing, and I really liked the conversation this allows us to have. They were generalizing the type of man David was, willing to sacrifice him for the mistakes he made in his past and not giving him the kind of mercy they were so intent on giving to the dying. The only complaint I'd have is the end, which lacks momentum. We were fleeing from this assassin hired by The Sisterhood after being accused of murder, and the one person working on cleaning David's name had been murdered on his doorstep. It was so stressful and well done, but all of a sudden we get this romance bit, which I knew was likely to happen, but it broke the momentum it was building, and I thought it was taking itself too seriously in this department when it was doing everything else really well.
Profile Image for Eeve Sopková.
129 reviews
April 8, 2022
Jeden z mojich prvých thrillerov s lekárskou tematikou, aké som čítala - to bolo ešte za čias základnej školy. Vtedy mi pripadal priam dokonalý, teraz sa naň pozerám už s trochu triezvejším pohľadom :) Čo ale neznamená, že to nie je výborná kniha.
Podrobne opisuje psychický stav, motiváciu a myšlienkové pochody postáv, a to ako kladných hrdinov, tak aj tých záporných. Akcia je napínavá, všetko dopodrobna vykreslené. Je však fakt, že sa v niektorých pasážach, a to hlavne v prvej tretine knihy, knižka trochu dejovo vlečie a preto zo začiatku môže mierne nudiť.
Mňa však najviac zaujala samotná tematika eutanázie a ukončenia utrpenia umierajúcich ľudí, ktorá je stále aktuálna aj v tejto dobe a prináša množstvo rozličných názorov a argumentácií. Autor evidentne nie je proti samotnej myšlienke a cieľom danej aktivity, ale upozorňuje na to, čo vždy zlyhá - ľudský prvok. A tak je tomu i v tejto knihe. Trochu ma sklamalo nedoriešenie určitých záležitostí, ale na druhej strane to trochu okoreňuje dej a hlavne záver. Každopádne je to stále jedna z najlepších kníh od pána Palmera.
Profile Image for eLle.
143 reviews16 followers
October 19, 2017
Dr. David Shelton is a brilliant surgeon who stepped away from the OR after the accident that claimed his wife’s and daughter’s life. Probably to drown out the guilt, he turned to alcohol and drugs. He is trying to get back on his feet when one of the patient entrusted to him by a senior surgeon died mysteriously. He struggled to accept the fact that the patient simply die so he ordered a blood analysis only to be pinned down later for the woman’s murder.

This medical thriller deals about euthanasia, mercy killing and an organized ‘Sisterhood’ of highly trained nurses who believe they are doing it out of compassion. I devoured it from cover to cover. It is such a downer when Ben Glass died. At least in the end, Lt. Dockerty was able to get a statement to clear David’s name. I have a lot of questions because of the cliff hanger and sadly Dr. Palmer is no longer with us to consider a sequel.
Profile Image for Ali Mark.
502 reviews1 follower
March 30, 2023
Read March 2023 💉

Gut Instinct Rating: 4
Characters: 4.5
Believability: 5
Uniqueness: 5
Writing Style: 5
Excitement Factor: 4.5
Story Line: 5
Title Relevance: 5
Artwork Relevance: 5
Audiobook Narration: 4.25
Overall: 4.73🏳️‍🌈

CW: Death as the Main Story Line, Hospital Story Line, Social Issues Story Line (Medically Assisted Death)

Review: This one was a wild ride. I have to say that it’s rare to find an author who can write so many demographics well. Palmer has written from the perspective of men, women, black, and white with such an ease that it makes it easy to just enjoy the story. And to take such a controversial topic (medically assisted death) and spin it into a whirlwind of a nightmare, it was really well done.
Profile Image for Isabel Luna.
1,066 reviews10 followers
March 27, 2020
La verdad es q me gustó pero no me fascinó. Leí Coma de Robin Cook y obviamente después de eso, mis expectativas eran altas. La novela empieza bien, la trama es bastante truculenta y creíble, pero por alguna razón la trama va decayendo y no termina bien. En lo personal, creo q la cuestión debió ir por otro lado, intensificar la trama explotando la cuestión ética de la eutanasia, en esa época ya se planteaba como altamente controversial. Pero tal como se fue desarrollando, no paso de ser otro intento de best seller comercial, con ingredientes y personajes trillados y un final predecible y por tanto muy de cuarta categoría.
578 reviews2 followers
January 13, 2019
Another medical "mystery", although it's not really a "whodunnit". You pretty much know from the beginning who is doing the killing. Quite suspensful anyway, and at times a little grisly.

The Sisterhood of the title are nurses who "help" patients who want to die. Unfortunately for Dr. David Shelton, he gets charged with the murder of one of those patients, thus beginning the unraveling of the sisterhood.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
March 25, 2019
This is a medical thriller that only Michael Palmer can write. It is so believable and chilling that it makes you a bit afraid to go to a hospital. A Sisterhood of nurses ban together to end the suffering of terminally ill patients, but things go wrong and greed becomes an issue. I sat down and read this almost straight through.

I was very surprised at how the ends were all tied up.
1,308 reviews2 followers
March 29, 2019
Love medical mysteries and Michael Palmer does it well...don’t know why I like him so much...his books are all the same...killing patients, doc getting blamed and someone freeing them...but it holds my interest, guess it’s the twists and turns especially at the end....this one had a doc with issues, then accused of killing people, but a nurse is involved too...
Profile Image for Glenna Mcneal.
30 reviews
June 13, 2020
Being in the medical profession is a privilege that sometimes becomes a tool of abuse. This book centers in on a group of medical professionals who think they should take matters into their own hands, and the results are mind-boggling. They cost many their profession; their very lives; and turn peoples' worlds upside down. Anyone who enjoys a good medical mystery will enjoy this.
103 reviews
March 4, 2019
7th book by Michael Palmer ! The Sisterhood, nurses for the “right to die” .........I feel I understand the pain of watching a loved one in PAIN . As a Christian thou just as I don’t believe in abortion I don’t believe anyone taking another’s life. Good book ! Makes you think 🤔
39 reviews1 follower
August 16, 2021
As a retired nurse, this novel was interesting to say the least. Written in the 80’s, hospitals are run very differently today and it would be virtually impossible for an organization like The Sisterhood to flourish today but when I started out in the late 90’s, it was very possible.
Profile Image for Ivelisse.
205 reviews2 followers
May 9, 2017
It was a good book but it was also very scary to think what happened could go on...
33 reviews
September 29, 2017
My friend who enjoys detective and thrillers told me about this book. I liked the subject matter HEALTH CARE.
Profile Image for John Heise.
53 reviews1 follower
October 10, 2017
This is my third Palmer book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is a bit tough, at times, to get through some of the medical language. Regardless, good story line and well written.
73 reviews1 follower
May 2, 2018
A bit predictable (but there is still a twist :) ) but a nice read indeed!
Profile Image for Susan.
73 reviews
September 9, 2018
Racing to the finish

That’s how I felt reading this one..I was racing to finish it because I could not stop and neither will anyone else that reads it.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 131 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.