Fly Away to Zion

FLY AWAY TO ZION, Peter Rizzolo’s fourth novel, will be launched at The Chapel Hill Chamber of Commerce on September 10, 2017

The protagonist, Steven Johnson, is a young man whose deceased father was a family doctor in a small town in Kansas. He idolized his dad, who told him that medicine was not about his relationship with other doctors although that’s what years of training entailed. It was about him and the people he cared for. And if that wasn’t why he wanted to be a doctor he had better choose a different way to earn a living.

Steven does choose medicine for all the right reasons, but a series of incidents early on in his internship leads him to doubt his ability to survive in a highly competitive teaching hospital.

He struggles to cope with hospital intrigues, a complicated love life and his widowed mother’s failing mental health.

Purchase FLY AWAY TO ZION on as well as through brick and mortar bookstores.

Judging Laura

Peter Rizzolo’s third novel, JUDGING LAURA was launched at Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, NC July 7, 2016

“…She held onto the edge of the chaise. She has drunk only a few sips of watered-down vodka. What was happening to her?. As she walked along the edge of the pool, her legs seemed to have forgotten how to work. She teetered, wind-milling her arms. She toppled over, hitting her head on the metal edge of a chaise lounge. A boy knelt beside her….he carried her to an upstairs bedroom…” Shamed by her mother, fearful of reprisal from the perpetrators, and distrustful of the justice system, she did not accuse her attackers nor seek medical help. And now, several years later, married and wanting to have a child, she learns she must face the final horror of the assault. One of her attackers gave her a venereal disease. Her fallopian tubes are damaged beyond repair. She can never conceive.

From this intense and moving set-up, spins a deepening and tightening tale of medical mystery and intrigue, legal action, and human drama, which brings into focus some of the most intense social issues of our time. Laura’s resourceful doctor tells her that she may yet identify her assailants from surviving traces of DNA in her fallopian tubes, but a match must be obtained from the rapist. Michael Greene, now a surgery resident, is the prime suspect. Will Laura steal his DNA sample from the hospital where he now works? Will she press the issue further by making him face his past? Can she muster the courage to face the shame of her past and at last seek justice denied?

Thus begins her journey for vindication through the labs and corridors of hospitals and the labyrinth of the law. Her doctor and attorney guide her along the way. Two powerful women inspired by her courage decide to champion her cause. The case is tough and gets tougher, the stakes higher and higher. Greene, with his wealthy father, and top-drawer legal team fight back with blackmail, intimidation, altered evidence, and damaging photographs of Laura taken during the attack. The pendulum of fate swings back and forth from dejection to hope to despair and ends in a dramatic courtroom climax where the full force of medicine and law are brought to bear. Laura’s ultimate fate hangs on a tiny thread that leads, once again, into the past.

Purchase JUDGING LAURA on as well as through brick and mortar bookstores.

Forbidden Harvest: A Novel

”When does a hero become a villain? In this new medical thriller, Peter Rizzolo’s character, Dr. Ken Bernholtz, is deep into preserving human organs for transplant. When the hospital where he spent his exemplary career refuses to condone his experiments, Dr. Bernholtz takes the law into his own hands.

This cliffhanger plot engages Bernholtz’s godson, Link, who at thirteen needs a new heart to survive, Link’s dad and his stunning grandmother Lydia, as well as the boy’s hospital friend Marty, a teenage cancer patient with a smart mouth and wild ideas.

Add a second hospital for Saudi patients here for transplant surgery, a young doctor and nurse who are threatened and stalked; a secret trip to London for a matching heart and Charlotte, a tough experienced attorney who takes Ken Bernholtz’s case after his hidden transplants come to light. In this blockbuster tale, Forbidden Harvest reveals what goes on behind the scene, from the hospital to the courtroom.“

—Charlotte Hoffman, Editor/Writer

“Peter Rizzolo brings both his immense medical knowledge and deep compassion to this thoughtful and moving novel, skillfully written and deeply engaging throughout. His real and complex characters come to life on the page, giving his readers a deeper understanding of these timely issues that touch all our lives.”

—Lee Smith, The Last Girls

“Peter Rizzolo has written one hell of a story of medical and legal intrigue and the tender but tricky labyrinth of the human heart. The characters are wonderfully drawn–you can step right into them. Pitch-perfect details put the surgeon’s kniife in your hands and the lawyer’s wit in your head. This novel is a terrific read. Get into it and you will not put it down.”

—Walter Bennett, Leaving Tuscaloosa



Imagine you’re Dr. Ken Bernholtz, a researcher and chief pathologist at Children’s Hospital where your 12-year-old godson, has had a heart attack, and is near death awaiting a donor heart.

Flash back two years when your life took a turn you could never have imagined. At your hospital many children die waiting in vain for a life-saving organ.There aren’t enough donors, and the heart, for example, remains viable for only four hours once removed from the body. You’ve perfected a method of preserving an animal heart from four to twenty-four hours, greatly expanding the area from which a heart can be retrieved, or harvested, as physicians call it.

Ken’s hospital, in the midst of a major expansion, and under pressure from radical protestors, refuses to allow him to experiment with human organs. He’s furious…at autopsy he holds in his hands organs he cannot use, because grieving parents often refuse to grant permission to enter their deceased child in the organ donor program.

At the risk of his career and despite not having the parent’s permission to do so, Ken begins to remove hearts, kidneys and livers, using some for research and sending others to a hospital where they save the lives of hundreds of children. But he cannot use any of those organs at his own hospital because transplant surgeons there meticulously research the donor source. Nor would the hospital use an organ retrieved from an area beyond which the organ would remain viable.

Link’s condition becomes desperate. After months of frantic searching, Ken locates a donor in London, England. But in order to retrieve the heart, he will expose his clandestine organ-preservation research. Ken must choose between the certainty of a shattered career and probable criminal prosecution, and the chance to save Link.

Advance praise for Forbidden Harvest

“In Peter Rizzolois new medical thriller, Dr. Ken Bernholtz is deep into preserving human organs for transplant. When the hospital where he has spent his exemplary career cancels his experiments, Bernholtz takes the law into his own hands. This fast-paced novel features multi-dimensional characters, intricate action, plus a surprising romance. Forbidden Harvest reveals what goes on behind the scenes, from operating room, to the morgue, to the courtroom.”

—Charlotte Hoffman, editor and writer

Meet the Main Characters Read Chapter 1 Buy Now