I.J. Sarfeh - Medical Fiction

The Final Victim

In rural Michigan, a famed athlete undergoes a routine operation. Six weeks later he is dead, victim of a bizarre form of cancer. In Los Angeles, a radio announcer dies of the same cause. Coincidence? Dr. Greg Dostoyov, the athlete's surgeon, and biologist Kate Adams do not think so. Their quest for answers begins in a remote Scottish laboratory. Greg stumbles upon a photograph of stem cells resembling those that caused the athlete's death. The clue launches Greg and Kate into a vortex of danger, imposed by those who would repress the discovery. The ordeal ends in a California hospital, where the mystery unfolds in a surprising and explosive climax.

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The Final Victim

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Reviews of Final Victim at Amazon

5.0 out of 5 stars strongly recommended., June 8, 2007
This review is from: The Final Victim (Paperback)
Reviewed by Kornelia Longoria for Reader Views (6/07)

Dr. Greg Dostoyov is a well-established and respected surgeon in rural Michigan. One of his most important and very-widely discussed surgeries abruptly ends the doctor's career. After just a few months after the seemingly routine and uncomplicated procedure, the patient, who is also a famous athlete, dies of cancer. The public goes wild and everyone blames doctor Dostoyov for the death of their hero. He is accused of neglecting the symptoms of cancer and lack of professionalism. Not having any chances of defending himself, Greg leaves the town to escape the accusations and figure out what to do next. On his way to another town, he meets Kate, who is a biologist. After hearing about the surgery and its consequences, Kate feels that there is something suspicious in the story and believes that Dr. Dostoyov should investigate. After some research, Kate and Greg find out about a similar case in California, where a radio announcer dies in similar circumstances.

Inspired by the findings and determined to find out what really was behind the strange deaths of two people, Greg travels to a laboratory in Scotland, where he believes he finds some clues. He does not realize how much danger he is putting himself into, and only after barely escaping death, does he realize that there is something big going on.

I.J Sarfeh created a fast-paced and extremely captivating medical thriller. From the moment you start reading till the last page, the book keeps you on your toes. The book is full of turning points and unexpected events and will satisfy the most picky thrill seeker. The romantic thread will definitely appeal to the female audience, but overall it is a great book for anyone who loves quite a bit of thrills in their lives. "The Final Victim" is strongly recommended.

Book received free of charge.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Page Turner, February 27, 2013
L. Muzio (Laguna Niguel ,CA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Final Victim (Kindle Edition)
After reading my first I. J. Sarfeh novel, The Caspian Scrolls, I eagerly purchased another one - The Final Victim. I didn't think it could come close to the breathtaking pace of Caspian, but it did. Final Victim is a fantastic read, from the first line of the story to the last. Moving at lightning speed, the tale takes you from a small town in Michigan to a remote corner of Scotland, to the desert of Southern California. The main character, Dr. Greg Dostoyov, is blamed for the mysterious death of a famous athlete after Greg operates on him. Assuming full responsibility for the death, he decides to leave his surgical practice and move away from the small town in which he has become a reviled outcast. On his travels, he meets Kate Adams, a spirited biologist who convinces him to investigate the athlete's death. The adventurous journey begins, through twists and turns to end in a surprising and explosive finish; a fantastic read can't wait to read his other novels.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Addictive, February 21, 2013
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This review is from: The Final Victim (Kindle Edition)
Couldn't stop reading until the end. (Spoiler allert -- even though the ending was a bit too happy and not very real).
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5.0 out of 5 stars A thriller to savour, December 19, 2012
This review is from: The Final Victim (Paperback)
I. J Sarfeh's medical thriller, `Final Victim', has all the ingredients which make up a really good read. The wry and gently engaging main character, Dr Greg Dostoyov, is pitched through a plot which twists and turns at a nicely judged pace, at first drawn in against his instincts but gradually taking control of events, egged on by the feisty `love interest', Kate. The scientific and medical details, without being overdone, feel utterly convincing (as one would expect, given Sarfeh's profession); the prose is crisp and the dialogue sharp, while the story, which takes us from small-town Michigan via the Scottish highlands to the deserts of southern California, is well-worked and completely engrossing. The whole thing is leavened by touches of humour and genuine humanity which make this a book to savour.
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5.0 out of 5 stars hard to put down, May 8, 2013
This review is from: The Final Victim (Kindle Edition)
This was a real page-turner. Dr. Sarfeh clearly relies on a long history in the medical profession, but it's just as impressive that he pulls out the writing chops for a way-better-than-average medical thriller. This was a fun read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Final Victim, November 17, 2012
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This review is from: The Final Victim (Kindle Edition)
Great read. Found it hard to put down.Very interesting theme which was absorbing and held your attention to the very end.

5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling Medical Crime Thriller, May 22, 2013
This review is from: The Final Victim (Kindle Edition)
One of my favorite ways to judge whether a book really grabs me, is how many times I take a break from it before I complete it. Author Sarfeh has done it again with a completely engrossing tale of long-planned retribution and medical science turned to evil ends. His characters are memorable and familiar -- I felt I knew them all. Well, most of them. The villains, although believable, were seriously creepy. The kind of folks I wouldn't even want to be in the same county with. The actual physician behind the plot mainly comes through in an easy, relaxed approach to the science behind the story. I hope Dr. Sarfeh will continue to produce these crime thrillers since I read the entire book in one eight hour sitting. Sometimes, if you've got a storyteller as gifted as I.J. Sarfeh to share your time with, throwing your back out can actually have a good side! Buy this book. You won't be disappointed.

Here's the opening chapter of The Final Victim:

In the tiny examining room reeking of iodine, Olie Nielsen stared at the cinderblock wall as blank as his eyes.

“Are you daydreaming?” I asked him.

No answer.

Leaving him alone to his thoughts, I leafed through the office chart then scribbled my preoperative notes—brief and to the point. Engrossed in making sure I had entered only the pertinent findings, I heard Olie mumble a few words.

I twisted around. “What did you say?”

He spoke in a staccato monotone like an android answering machine. “I don’t think I’m going to make it.”

As the words sank into me, I bolted out of the aluminum chair. “Please repeat what you just said.”

His eyes sprang to life. “Getting hard of hearing, Doc? I said I don’t think I’m going to make it.”

“You’re going to be fine. Many people get that feeling before an operation. And they come through okay.”

“Look, I’ve had a dozen surgeries in my hockey career, but I’ve never had this feeling before getting cut up.”

I remembered that during his playing years, the sportscasters often talked about Olie’s sixth sense. They said he knew where the puck would be before it got there, and he knew where to pass it without looking for a receiver. Was that sixth sense speaking to him now?

Olie jumped off the examining table. “You look worried, Doc.”

“Why did you tell me that?”

           “Because you’re frowning.”

“No, I mean about you not making it.”

“I got this feeling. Can’t explain it.”

Standing in silence for a moment, I tried to sort things out in my head. An ominous premonition coming from someone like Olie Nielsen had to be taken seriously. What had triggered it?

Just about every sports addict loved Olie, a recent inductee into the ice hockey hall of fame and now the successful head coach at our local college. With his winning grin and friendly eyes, he was the darling of the media. Sportscasters labeled him the Yogi Berra of hockey. Easygoing, great sense of humor, and an all-round decent person, he was a credit to his sport at a time when scandal, greed, and steroids plagued the athletic world.

If he should die during or soon after the surgery, millions of people, especially me, would mourn for him.

All that aside, I hate losing a patient for any reason—terminal cancer included.

With all sorts of alarms going off in my brain, I asked him, “Would you like me to refer you to University Hospital in Ann Arbor?”

He fixed his cobalt eyes on me. “I don’t live in Ann Arbor, and I don’t like being poked about by all those medical students and trainees. Someone once told me the trainees do most of the surgery at university hospitals. Is that true?”

“Depends on the situation, but the professor is always present and directing the operation.”

“I don’t need a director—I need a hands-on surgeon. And they tell me you’ve got a great pair of hands.”

“But what about this feeling of yours?”

“You told me everyone gets it before surgery.”

“I didn’t say everyone.”

“But a lot, right?”


“Then I’m not that different, am I?”


“What’s the matter, Doc? Can’t take the pressure?”

“I can take it if you can.”

Admittedly, the pressure was intense. I had heard reporters were everywhere—in the fast-food places, in the motels, and in the hospital lobby. They asked a lot of questions, mostly about me, Doctor Greg Dostoyov. What was I like? Was I competent? Where did I go to medical school? Was I board-certified in surgery? How come Olie didn’t go to some renowned medical center where major-league physicians and surgeons practice?

I had never operated on a celebrity before. The small town of Ironthorp, Michigan, didn’t attract celebrities. Except Olie Nielsen. Only about twenty miles south of town, Upper Peninsula Technological College—the locals called it Uptech—was where Olie now coached hockey. He lived with his wife and three daughters just outside town on the banks of the same-named river. That was one reason why he had chosen to have his surgery in Ironthorp.

Olie beamed at me. “So we’re on for tomorrow morning, then.”

“We’re on.”

I wondered if I had just made the best or the worst decision of my career. But I was sure of one thing: in the operating room, I was damn good.

Sitting at the narrow counter with the Formica top, I finished scrawling my notes while Olie dressed. When ready to leave, he said, “I’ll see you in the morning, Doc. Good luck to both of us.”

I clattered the chair back and jumped up. “Luck has nothing to do with it.”

          “That’s comforting to know. Will the doctor with the impossible last name be your assistant?”

          “Andy Mortczenski. You met him, right?”

           Olie nodded.

We were heading out of the room when he suddenly grabbed my arm. “Is your assistant any good?”

“The best.”

“I’m glad to hear it, because he bothers me.”

I searched his eyes. “Why?”

“I can’t explain it. He makes me nervous. How many surgeries has he assisted you with?”

“I’ve lost count.”

“Is there something unusual about mine?”

“Nothing at all.”

“You’re positive?”


* * *

Early that same evening, I finished making hospital rounds and headed to the locker room. After exchanging my white coat for a blue blazer, I was combing my hair when I heard the door creak open. In the mirror I saw Andy Mortczenski step inside, look around, and slink behind a row of lockers.

I followed him. “What brings you here today, Andy?”

           Mortczenski whirled around. Sweat-drenched, he clanged open his locker. “I’m—uh—looking for something.”

I said, “We’re on for seven-thirty tomorrow. You all set?”


“Lots of reporters around.”

“Who cares?”

“See you at seven-thirty sharp.”

He grunted something, slammed closed his locker door, and secured it with a combination lock. On the way out, he paused at the doorway, spun around to stare at me for a couple of seconds, and left.

Although he was still the best surgical assistant around, lately Mortczenski seemed disturbed. Withdrawn, sometimes even hostile, he was probably upset about his failing general practice, which had dwindled down to no more than a dozen faithfuls. But that was his business.

           His strange moods and behavior made him come across as sort of, well, sinister. Olie had sensed it, and now I sensed it.