Jim Allaire knew immediately what had happened. Genesis had struck a mortal blow at the government of the United States and at the very heart of the country. Every soul in the U. S. Capitol building, including himself, the vice president, and nearly the entire line of succession to the presidency, was in danger. If there was to be any hope of averting an even more unprecedented disaster, he had to take control of the situation. He felt his chest tightening and wondered if it was just fear settling in, or something far more horrific – something in his bloodstream, already at work, attacking his body. – from A Heartbeat Away, page 14 –
It is the night of the State of the Union address, and President Jim Allaire is exuberant after having defeated his opponent Ursula Ellis, a hard-edged and worthy opponent. But as the President begins his address, a popping noise is heard, and suddenly the unthinkable unfolds: a deadly virus has been released by a terrorist group called Genesis and will threaten the lives of all 700 people in attendance. As the Secret Service and security rush to seal the exits, President Allaire meets with the people he trusts the most to devise a plan to save them. It involves releasing a man from prison who is thought to be a traitor and terrorist, but who may hold the key to finding a cure. Griffin “Griff” Rhodes has spent the last nine months in isolation at a maximum security prison after being accused of stealing the very virus which now threatens those inside the House chambers, but now he must either unlock the clues to the shadowy Genesis and find a vaccination to save the President, or risk losing it all.
Michael Palmer has penned a fast-paced, political and medical thriller that includes power-hungry politicians, a terrorist group who seems unstoppable, and a deadly virus that is truly terrifying. As with all Palmer novels, this one includes a varied cast of characters and lots of twists and turns to keep you guessing. Although the plot sometimes stretches reality, I do think that part of what makes this novel especially mesmerizing is the very real possibility that terrorists could use a biological weapon (like a fast mutating virus) to attack the United States. There were moments when I was reading that I thought, “Yes, this could actually happen!”
A Heartbeat Away is a quick read despite its nearly 400 page length. I got caught up in the action (it was a bit like watching a marathon of “24”) and found myself reading well past my bedtime – just one more chapter, and then another – just because I wanted to know what was going to happen next. Anytime a book can reel me in like that, it is a book worth reading.
Palmer’s latest thriller is not without its faults (some of the characters are a little too predictable and the bit of romance that comes into play was not all that believable to me), but I was willing to ignore them because the strengths of the book kept me riveted to the story. Readers who are looking for a thriller with lots of action, plot twists and a glimpse into the black hearts of biological terrorists, need look no further.
Book Giveaway: February 9 – February 17, 2011
A Heartbeat Away by Michael Palmer
St. Martin’s Press (February 2011)
Thanks to Michael Palmer, I am happy to host a giveaway for a signed, first edition hardback of A Heartbeat Away (due for release in mid-February). Michael Palmer has authored fifteen novels of medical suspense, all of which have been international bestsellers and have been translated into thirty-five languages. Palmer is an associate director of the Massachusetts Medical Society Physician Health Services which is devoted to helping physicians who are struggling with mental illness, physical illness, behavioral issues and chemical dependency. He lives in eastern Massachusetts. Learn more about Palmer and his work by visiting the author’s website or his Facebook page.
How to enter the giveaway:
- Leave me a comment on this post indicating that you wish to be entered in the giveaway. Comments will be open for the contest until 5:00 pm (PST) on February 17th.
- To be eligible to win the book, entrants must have a US postal address.
- I will choose a winner using Random.org on February 18th and announce the winner here on my blog. I will also email the winner who must respond to that email within five days with their snail mail address. Michael Palmer will be sending the winner their book and it will be personalized.