Bette Golden Lamb
Born: Bronx, New York
Queen’s College, New York, New York
Thriller Sub-genre: Medical Thriller
Publisher: Self published: Two Black Sheep Productions
Future of the series: The next in the series is Bone Snatch.
The Simon Review
Up to this point, I have only been reviewing forensic thrillers so it is time to make a change and explore what is cooking with medical thrillers. The first medical series that I am reviewing is actually a self-published series by Bette Golden Lamb and her husband J.J. Lamb. The series protagonist is Gina Mazzio, a nurse that grew up in the Bronx and full of attitude, who transplants herself into the heart of San Francisco where she meets her fiancé Harry Lucke. Mazzio is a nosy one much like Temp Brennan from Kathy Reich’s series but the difference here is that Mazzio actually admits to being a nosy body and even thinks it is rather pathological. The first step in dealing with an addiction is admitting that you have a problem, well it looks like Mazzio has made that first step and I am proud of her. Being the overly curious individual that she is, our heroine in white gets herself into more trouble than the average everyday nurse which includes running into and nearly being killed by serial killers. Her fiancé, Harry Lucke, who is also a nurse, is crazy in love with Mazzio and in fact, so much, that he is more than willing to deal with on and off plans to get married. Lucke does have problems in dealing with Mazzio’s paranoid concerns as well as her overabundant curiosity and usually brushes them aside but in the third installment of the series, he gets his turn in nearly getting himself killed and I am sure he is now a believer in Mazzio’s paranoia, which serves him right for not believing her in the first place.
The first installment of the series, Bone Dry, is not the Lamb’s best work. The premise of the story is the extortion of cancer patients through the theft of their bone marrow that has been stored while they are being treated with chemotherapy. The theft and blackmail is conducted by a dysfunctional couple, Faye Lindstrom and Frank Nellis. Lindstrom is a laboratory technician that has access to the marrow and is a reluctant thief in the scheme that is the brainchild of Nellis. Nellis is a disgusting example of a human being, with no remorse, whatsoever, of his fellow man including Lindstrom, which he uses and abuses to a great extreme. Lindstrom is a pathetic example of the human race; she is coerced by Nellis into doing pretty much anything that he wants. Normally, I am very understanding of victims of abuse and why they can’t leave their partner but when a victim commits a heinous crime as Lindstrom committed, any pity or understanding goes right out the door. The interaction between Lindstrom and Nellis is so gross and disgusting it made for a difficult read. I also had an issue with the patients themselves, if my bone marrow was stolen and I couldn’t pay the $50,000 to get it back, you can bet your booties that I would contact the police, but these patients were willing to die than to contact the police which just seemed unrealistic to me. The story line was very predictable and overall a so-so read.
The Lambs wrote Bone Dry in 2003 and it wasn’t until 2012 when they wrote the next installment of the series Sin & Bone. During this hiatus the Lambs learned a lot because Sin & Bone is a HUGE improvement over Bone Dry and the latest installment The Bone Pit is considerably even better, to the point that I would say that The Bone Pit is one of the better thrillers that I have read.
Overall, Gina Mazzio and Harry Lucke are very likeable characters and I hope to see more of them in the future. With the exception of a slow start, I think the Lambs are on their way to making a great and enjoyable series. Even though this is a medical thriller, there is not much in the way of medical science integrated into the plot which I hope changes for future installments. The novels could be read as standalones and if you are only going to read one book of the series, I would highly recommend The Bone Pit. This is definitely a series for adults, so if you see junior reading any of these books, I would advise to take it away.
Most Favorite Novel in the Series-Bone Pit, because it was exciting and riveting, just what you would expect with a good thriller.
Least Favorite Novel in the Series-Bone Dry, because of a predictable plot and too many clueless characters.
What about the science? Bette Golden Lamb was a nurse before she turned writer and most of the medical applications in the series involve the day to day routine of the workings of a hospital, so there is not much in the way of discussions on medical science.
The Gina Mazzio Technical Word in Review: Pons varolii, which is more commonly known as the pons, is a part of the brain stem. Pons is Latin for bridge and varolii is named after the Italian surgeon Costanzo Varolio (1543-1575). In humans the length of the pons is quite small at only about an inch, but its functions are extremely important. Pons was appropriately named because it is a bridge between the cerebrum and the cerebellum by relaying messages between the two areas of the brain. The pons also has a significant role in sleep and is believed to be the origin of REM sleep and dreams. The nerves that originate from the pons control the muscles of the face as well as the functionality of the salivary glands. Additionally it has a significant role in the regulation of respiration.
(Pons varolii colored in red)
Ethan pointed at the disgusting organs in the jars. “Think of it as a different sort of beauty all around us. The brain and its parts have an almost poetic, lyrical, rhythm of their own. Cerebellum … medulla oblongata … pons varolii. Don’t you think these words are almost musical?- Bone Pit
Books in the Series by Order:
Most Favorite in the series: Bone Slice with a score of 4.46
Least Favorite in the series: Bone Dust & Bone Pit (tie) with a score of 3.84
Based on overall ratings from Goodreads, Library Thing, and Amazon (US & UK)
Waiting for the right moment was making her nuts.
Gina Mazzio: A nurse from the Bronx
Harry Lucke: Mazzio’s fiancé and is also a nurse
Mark Kessler: Oncologist
Faye Lindstrom: Lab tech involved in the theft of bone marrow
Frank “Frankie” Nellis: Lindstrom’s boyfriend, abuser and partner in crime
Vinnie Capello: Teenage oncology patient
Carl Chapman: Oncology patient
Tracy Bernstein: Oncology patient
Allan Vasquez: Hospital administrator
San Francisco, California
You have cancer!
You’ve been blasted and wasted with chemotherapy, along with every other poison the doctors could find to kill malignant cells. Most days you’re more dead than alive; there is one last chance for survival — tomorrow you will be infused with your own treated bone marrow, which has been frozen and safely stored in one of California’s most prestigious hospitals.
Then comes an anonymous note — “We have your marrow … pay or die!”
RN Gina Mazzio isn’t about to let her patients become victims of this vicious scheme.
“The only thing I knew about marrow was that dogs sucked it, clawed it, lapped it up from bones. ‘Bone dry’ my drunk old granddaddy used to call it.” He snorted a laugh. “And that old bastard was right: that’s just what Chapman is, bone dry.”
Looking for a review of Bone Dry? Check out:
Amazon Rating-US: 4.11 out of 5 stars based on 319 ratings
Amazon Rating-UK: 4.06 out of 5 stars based on 18 ratings
GoodReads Rating: 3.84 out of 5 stars based on 1,177 ratings
Library Thing Rating: 4.33 out of 5 stars based on 3 ratings
Total Score 3.90 (updated 9/25/18)
Gina Mazzio glared at the call-waiting board high above her desk.
Gina Mazzio, Harry Lucke and Allan Vasquez
Eddie St. George: Sales representative for CHEMwest pharmaceutical company
Jacob St. George: Eddie’s father
Pepper Yee: Police detective assigned to the body parts case
San Francisco, California
It’s RN Gina Mazzio’s wedding eve. As she takes the week’s final Ob/Gyn telephone advice call, a deadly serious voice says, “She’s all cut up.” The police, the hospital administrator, and even her fiance insist it was a crank call, some sicko. Gina doesn’t buy it. She pursues the source of the call, and a second one to her home, linking the caller to a series of nurse disappearances. Instead of a wedding and honeymoon, Gina is drawn into the illicit and dangerous trade in human body parts.
Cooke was a snobby idiot, thought he was the only one who could dice and slice a corpse with such finesse. He was a top-notch skin and bone man, or considering the circumstances, sin and bone might be more appropriate.
Amazon Rating-US: 4.13 out of 5 stars based on 193 ratings
Amazon Rating-UK: 4.41 out of 5 stars based on 17 ratings
GoodReads Rating: 3.88 out of 5 stars based on 867 ratings
Library Thing Rating: 3.20 out of 5 stars based on 5 ratings
Total Score 3.93 (updated 9/25/18)
“STAY DOWN, BITCH!”
Gina Mazzio and Harry Lucke
Ethan Dayton: Head of the Comstock Medical Auxiliary Campus
Emma Goldmich: Clinical trial patient
Tuva Goldmich: Emma Goldmich’s daughter
Carl Krueger: FDA investigating officer
Virginia City, Nevada
RN Gina Mazzio is not a wimp, but after nearly being murdered twice, she needs a time out. Needs to get away from San Francisco and Ridgewood Hospital.
She and her fiancé sign up for a travel assignment at a small Nevada facility in the middle of nowhere.
On their first day, driving down a long, creepy private road, ominous sentry-like boulders block out the sun. When they finally arrive at the facility, Gina’s eye starts to twitch a warning when she stares at heavy iron bars on the second floor windows.
What kind of place was this? What were they getting into?
Gina Mazzio and her fiance, Harry Lucke, a dynamic pair of nurses, get more than they bargained for when they accept an assignment in a rehab facility for Alzheimer’s patients in the desolate wilderness on the outskirts of Virginia City, Nevada. Within a few hours of their arrival, they realize that all is not as it appears.
She tried to back away, move away from the empty eyes, but kept sinking lower with every movement. Dead people kept closing in until she was caught between shifting bodies and splintered bones. She was trapped in a huge pit … a pit with sheered-off walls, and a tap that was way, way above her.
Amazon Rating-US: 3.98 out of 5 stars based on 377 ratings
Amazon Rating-UK: 3.71 out of 5 stars based on 55 ratings
GoodReads Rating: 3.81 out of 5 stars based on 1,273 ratings
Library Thing Rating: 3.50 out of 5 stars based on 6 ratings
Total Score 3.84 (updated 9/25/18)
Listed #143 out of 168 on Goodreads Best Science Thriller Book List
“Gimme a draft, will ya?”
Gina Mazzio and Harry Lucke
Vinne Mazzio: Gina’s brother
Thelma Karsh: Medical assistant that works with Gina
Marvin Karsh: Thelma’s husband
Dominick Colletti: Gina’s ex-husband
Inspector Mulzini: Detective helping Gina with the case
San Francisco, California
Murder, mayhem, medicine, and Mazzio.
That’s the thread that stitches together all of the Gina Mazzio, RN medical thrillers, including the fourth in the series, BONE OF CONTENTION.
RN Gina Mazzio returns to San Francisco’s Ridgewood Hospital after a near-death experience in Nevada’s desolate gold country.
On her first day in the Ob/Gyn Women’s Health Clinic, a co-worker suffers a mystifying post-abortion death due to sepsis.
Two days later, the same thing happens to a clinic patient.
Gina thinks it’s an inside job, but gets no support for her theory. Convinced she’s right, she risks everything to dig into the who and why of the deaths. She wants to know if someone is deliberately causing clinic patients to suffer horrible deaths.
Fiancé Harry is worried about her and postpones taking another travel nurse assignment. Instead, he signs on as an on-call ICU nurse at Ridgewood.
To Gina’s delight, and distress, her younger brother, Vinnie, shows up, back from his second tour of duty in the Middle East. He’s received a medial discharge and is deeply depressed and suicidal. Vinnie also brings news that Gina’s ex-husband, Dominick, is out of prison and still enraged that she helped put him away for three years — for almost killing her. Word is that he broke parole and is on his way from New York to San Francisco.
Gina sticks with her daring and danger-filled investigation. Her efforts bring her closer and closer to solving the sepsis deaths, but also make her the target of anti-abortion fanatics.
As she closes in on the murderer, her ex-spouse arrives in San Francisco, hell-bent on killing her. Gina is faced with having to outmaneuver Dominick while racing to expose the murderer before either can trap and kill her.
Looking for a review of Bone of Contention? Check out:
Amazon Rating-US: 4.40 out of 5 stars based on 135 ratings
Amazon Rating-UK: 3.80 out of 5 stars based on 14 ratings
GoodReads Rating: 4.10 out of 5 stars based on 565 ratings
Library Thing Rating: 2.25 out of 5 stars based on 2 ratings
Total Score 4.15 (updated 9/25/18)
Russell Thorpe stood naked, stared at the straight edge razor, open on the edge of the wash basin.
Gina Mazzio, Harry Lucke, Vinne Mazzio, Dominick Colletti and Inspector Mulzini
San Francisco, California and Arizona
Is it possible to get so busy you don’t notice a stalker? Actually, it’s likely, in a hospital, in the middle of a deadly flu epidemic. Your focus is on saving people, not looking over your shoulder. So it almost happens to San Francisco RN Gina Mazzio, who’s further distracted by personal issues.
But then a fellow nurse gets killed. Even in the middle of a break-up with a long-time boy friend, and the chaos of the epidemic, there’s no ignoring that. And the nurse isn’t the only one—a lot more patients are dying than ought to be.
Then come the threats.
In a Gina Mazzio medical thriller, it’s never just a murder mystery; or even just a hospital mystery. It’s likely to be a conspiracy, a kidnapping, something really big—or else a lot of somethings. In this one, Gina herself is being targeted by the murderer, and her estranged love, Harry Lucke, is the target of her vicious ex-husband. As if that weren’t enough, even nurses aren’t immune from the flu—Gina gets it, and now, sick as the proverbial Fido, she has to deal with not one but two murderers. Plus the mysterious flu deaths.
For some reason, he didn’t want to throw them away. He sanded and sanded, but knew they would never make solid handles for his knives. Still, he kept sanding them and sanding them, knowing that they would eventually turn to bone dust.
Amazon Rating-US: 4.01 out of 5 stars based on 242 ratings
Amazon Rating-UK: 3.79 out of 5 stars based on 32 ratings
GoodReads Rating: 3.79 out of 5 stars based on 714 ratings
Library Thing Rating: 3.83 out of 5 stars based on 3 ratings
Total Score 3.84 (updated 9/25/18)
Listed #98 out of 115 on Goodreads Best Medical Thriller Book List
Tuva jumped onto the sofa and carefully placed one paw at a time onto Gina and Harry’s legs.
Gina Mazzio, RN, is on the brink of getting married when a childhood friend relocates from the Bronx to San Francisco. Within days, Gina’s nurse friend is relating difficult-to-believe horror stories about her new employer, a cardiologist whom she suspects is involved in illicit and deadly medical practices.
Gina soon discovers the stories are true—the doctor is not only acting in an unethical manner, he may also be complicit in two or three hideous murders. That knowledge quickly makes her the new target of the doctor and a vicious hit man, who is determined to hunt her down and kill her.
We save them. Them, and their dying bodies. We crack open their chests, separate bones, expose and heal their hearts. Instead of thanks, there are only complaints. They lie there, a bunch of fat cats used to getting their own way.
Amazon Rating-US: 4.16 out of 5 stars based on 121 ratings
Amazon Rating-UK: 4.15 out of 5 stars based on 7 ratings
GoodReads Rating: 4.11 out of 5 stars based on 466 ratings
Library Thing Rating: 4.00 out of 5 stars based on 1 rating
Total Score 4.13 (updated 9/25/18)
A fast moving gurney screeched through the metal doors of the Robotics Surgical Suite.
Back from an idyllic beach wedding and honeymoon on romantic Kauai, Gina and Harry have barely unpacked when Ridgewood Hospital sends them off on an intriguing assignment to learn about and report on surgical robotics at a Santa Cruz area hospital.
Intrigue turns to fear as they’re plunged into the midst of a deadly clash between hands-on-medicine traditionalists and those eager to dive headlong into the futurist whirlpool of robotics.
The newlyweds are harassed, threatened, and kidnapped as a result of their efforts to discover who is hacking the robotic units s and causing bloody mayhem in the surgery suites.
Gina and Harry eventually report back to Ridgewood that robots are not only accurate, fast, and efficient, they can also be used to commit murder.
“But overall, what do you think of this brave new world?” Bill said. “It never ends. Can you imagine, in the next year or two we’ll be getting a robot-assisted device for slicing through bone with a laser.”
Barbara bit into a piece of the garlic bread. “Faster healing time, fantastic precision. Just a bone slice with no sawing.”
Amazon Rating-US: 4.47 out of 5 stars based on 35 ratings
Amazon Rating-UK: 4.75 out of 5 stars based on 4 ratings
GoodReads Rating: 4.44 out of 5 stars based on 99 ratings
Library Thing Rating: not rated
Total Score 4.46 (updated 9/25/18)
Blinding lights were digging holes into his brain they bounced off the walls, off the piece of paper they shoved in front of him.
Gina Mazzio-Lucke, Harry Lucke, and Vinnie Mazzio
Helen: Vinnie Mazzio’s fiancee
Gina Mazzio’s brother is gone. He’s abandoned everything and everyone.
Long-time fans will rejoice— now we know love does conquer all. Gina is pregnant. This after doctors said it was never going to happen.
Five months into a high risk pregnancy, Gina’s veteran brother, who suffers from PTSD, has vanished. Although she is under bed-rest orders, she takes off to find him.
What she discovers is that Vinnie’s been swallowed up in a derelict, soon-to-close VA psychiatric hospital with a corrupt administration involved in greed, malevolence, and murder.
“Some days are harder than others. This was very hard. I’m the one Bone Point notified of his death.”
“Bone Point?” Gina said.
Pablo nodded. “It’s VA psychiatric facility on the coast north of here.”
#9-Bone Snatch- soon
Gina and Harry are happily married, they finally have a beautiful daughter to raise, and our intrepid heroine has been through a lot of medical and other-world trauma since coming on the scene more than fifteen years ago. For instance, she’s proven the doctors wrong who said she’d never have a baby, only to have that baby kidnapped.