Michael Palmer has replaced Robin Cook as the king of medical thrillers. Each of the books by this inventive writer with a medical background makes a mark. His latest, Oath of Office, takes a look at the nation's food crops and how they might be manipulated, and then combines that with a tale of people gone berserk. To add even more intrigue, he reaches out and brings in more characters up to and including a fictional president and First Lady.
The central character in the book is Dr. Lou Welcome. He has had some troubles with alcohol and drugs in his past. Still, he has put all that behind him and is now a practicing physician at an Emergency Room in DC. He also helps counsel other doctors who have had drug and alcohol problems in their past. One of these is Dr. John Meacham, a doctor in a nearby Virginia community.
When Meacham snaps and goes on a rampage which ends up with the deaths of himself and all the people at his office, Welcome is shocked. He had been close to Meacham in the past and thought he was well recovered from his problems, which included anger issues. He is at a loss to understand how this all could happen, until another incident occurs which shows a person going from rational to irrational in a matter of moments.
This sets up the mystery which is the heart of the story. Lou Welcome becomes a sleuth and investigates these curious happenings. This leads to him placing his life in danger as well as the lives of his friends and family. And strangely enough his investigation leads him into contact with the First Lady, Darlene Mallory.
Palmer piles one suspenseful occurrence on top of another which makes for breakneck reading and super thriller enjoyment. He manages to keep the realism alive though you have to admit Lou Welcome is one of the luckiest humans on the planet. Still, it is all done with finesse and the entire read is a suspense lover's dream.
In order to have a good thriller you have to have an intriguing plot and strong characters and Palmer always delivers on this. He has one of the most inventive minds around and is able to get it all down on paper in a clear and cogent way. The fact that he has a medical background gives his stories authenticity and that too is very important.
Michael Palmer is a master of the medical thriller. Make sure you get a copy of his latest novel Oath of Office and have a wild ride through the streets of DC and Virginia.
Oath of Office is published by St Martin's Press. It contains 374 pages and sells for $27.99.
Jackie K Cooper