Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A HEARTBEAT AWAY by Michael Palmer

Tickets to the State of the Union Address are as hard to come by as Super Bowl tickets, but in Day 1 of this Michael Palmer thriller, it's not the place to be. A domestic terrorist organization that calls itself Genesis manages to unleash smoke bombs laced with a lethal virus into the House Chambers in the middle of the President's speech. The President, who commissioned the creation of the virus as a bioweapon, is the only person in the room who knows how deadly it is and commences to seal the building, quarantining all of the attendees. In the meantime, Griffin Rhodes, a scientist framed for stealing the virus, is suffering prison-guard abuse while in solitary confinement. The President springs him so that Griff can get back to work on a cure for the virus, but there's still animosity and distrust between the two. Enter Angela Fletcher, Washington Post reporter and Griff's ex-lover, to make sure that Griff doesn't step out of line. Palmer actually subjugates the medical aspect of the story to the political, in which the power-hungry Speaker of the House and foe of the President, Ursula Ellis, colludes with Genesis in exchange for a promised cure and elevation to the Presidency. Palmer is just subtle enough with his tasty red herring, and I don't mean Ursula, that I took the bait. Even if you're savvy enough to see the clue for what it is, there's still plenty of suspense here for the vicarious adrenaline junkie but not so much realism that it's going to keep you awake at night. After all, what terrorists are going to want to wear biocontainment suits, unless, of course, they're suicidal? Even if they are, they might be deterred by the fact that the virus doesn't result in a sudden painless death but rather unimaginable suffering equal to that brought on by Ebola. I found the political infighting and corruption much more frightening, especially given today's polarized electorate.


DAVID said...

hey....HEARTBEAT AWAY sounds great..i need to get him on my show, WWW.DAVIDSBOOKTALK.COM where interview authors...would love to talk to you, PATTI about books..i am a big reader

Patti's Pages said...

Hi, David. Do you read mostly thrillers? You can reach Michael Palmer via his facebook page His son Daniel has a new thriller out also--Delirious. I really enjoyed both books.