A Heartbeat Away


by: Palmer, Michael
Format: Hardcover

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Product Description The New York Times bestselling author and master of suspense delivers another novel at the crossroads of politics and medicine in this shocker of a thriller On the night of the State of the Union address, President James Allaire expects to give the speech of his career. But no one anticipates the terrifying turn of events that forces him to quarantine everyone in the Capitol building. A terrorist group calling itself “Genesis” has unleashed WRX3883, a deadly, highly contagious virus, into the building. No one fully knows the deadly effect of the germ except for the team responsible for its development—a team headed by Allaire, himself. The only one who might be able to help is virologist Griffin Rhodes, currently in solitary confinement in a maximum security federal prison for alleged terrorist acts, including the attempted theft of WRX3883 from the lab where he worked. Rhodes has no idea why he has been arrested, but when Allaire offers to free him in exchange for his help combating the virus, he reluctantly agrees to do what he can to support the government that has imprisoned him without apparent cause. Meanwhile, every single person in line for presidential succession is trapped inside the Capitol—every person except one: the Director of Homeland Security, who is safely at home in Minnesota, having been selected as the “Designated Survivor” for this event. With enemies both named and unnamed closing in, and the security of the nation at stake, Griff must unravel the mysteries of WRX3883 without violating his pledge as a scientist to use no animal testing in his experiments…and time is running out. Tense, thrilling, and entirely plausible, A Heartbeat Away will make you reflect, wonder, and be truly afraid. From Publishers Weekly Palmer (The Last Surgeon) offers a nifty plot premise in this high-concept medical thriller, but a plethora of subplots distracts from the more interesting primary issue. As the U.S. president, James Allaire, is beginning his State of the Union address, a number of small containers of a viral agent explode and infect the more than 700 people, including every important member of the government except the director of homeland security, who have gathered in the House chamber. The Capitol must be sealed off and the infected audience held inside until a cure for the disease can be found. The plotters behind the attack, a group of domestic terrorists known as Genesis, demand, among other things, that the government abolish the Patriot Act and cease unchecked spying on ordinary Americans. Overblown prose does little to make the implausible scenario more believable. Readers with a low tolerance for the hyperbolic are advised to give this one a pass. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved. From Booklist Palmer’s early novels were smoothly written, tightly plotted, and memorable. Lately he’s had his ups and downs—more downs than ups, unfortunately—and his latest medical thriller sort of straddles the two. On the upside, it’s got a wicked cool story. Terrorists have let loose a highly virulent virus in the Capitol building on the night of the State of the Union address, forcing the president to lock down the building, trapping inside most of the hierarchy of the American government. Only Griffin Rhodes, a virologist who’s been in prison for allegedly trying to steal the same virus from a research lab, can save the day. On the downside, the writing is, at best, mediocre. The characters are thinly drawn, and the dialogue is wooden and clumsy. This could have been a first-rate thriller; instead, it’s a novel that depends on our loyalty to the author and our interest in its plot, not its characters, to keep us reading. Palmer continues to command an audience, but this is not his best work. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Palmer’s track record (15 medical thrillers, 15 international best-sellers) assures a full-court press on the promotional front, and his latest, though dis


Product Code: 9780312587529
ISBN: 031258752X
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: 2011-02-15
Number of Pages: 416 pages
Languages: english
Edition: First Edition
Dimension: 6.3 x 1.5 x 9.29 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds