Sadly, Michael Palmer, a wonderful writer, a pioneer of the medical thriller genre, and a revered member of the International Thriller Writers, passed away last October. Friends and colleagues of Michael universally praised his transcendent writing ability, his philanthropy, his sense of humor, and his willingness to mentor fledgling writers.
In Michael’s most recent book, RESISTANT, ER physician and professional counselor Dr. Lou Welcome must track down a kidnapped scientist in an effort to halt the spread of the aptly named Doomsday Germ. The shadowy Society of One Hundred Neighbors, a fringe group composed of some of the richest and most powerful people in America, developed and released the deadly bacteria. Their goal: eliminate what they see as the suffocating government programs of entitlement. Their means: meet their demands and they’ll provide the cure for the germ. But the Doomsday Germ proves too effective, becoming resistant to treatment and threatening America with an epidemic that will cause incalculable suffering and unprecedented loss of life.
Michael’s son, Daniel Palmer, graciously agreed to answer some questions about Michael and the novel.
RESISTANT explores bio-terrorism and the use of antibiotic resistant bacteria as a weapon of mass destruction. Was there any specific real-life development that triggered Michael’s decision to explore this idea?
My dad had a saying he made up and cited often. Finding what to write about is a little bit like following a recipe for rhinoceros stew that starts: Step one, find a rhino. He always looked for big ideas that could serve as a backdrop for his thriller novels. When he decided his “rhino” for RESISTANT would be a drug-resistant bacteria that had been weaponized by domestic terrorists he needed to figure out what that bacteria would be. He had read about the story of Aimee Copeland, the 24-year-old Georgia woman who waged a two-month battle against flesh-eating bacteria, and thought that would make for a terrifying terrorist threat.
The protagonist of RESISTANT is medical doctor Lou Welcome. He’s smart, loyal, compassionate, courageous—and flawed. What do you think drew Michael to the Welcome character?
By Gary Kriss
He set the writing world ablaze with works such as “Radioallergosorbent Microscreen and Total Immunoglobulin E in Allergic Fungal Sinusitis,” “Management of Epistaxis by Packing” and, of course, the legendary “Rhinitis Medicamentosa: The Forgotten Factor in Nasal Obstruction.” Now Richard L. Mabry is back and although his latest work contains no mention of antihypertensives, rhynotomies, turbinoplasties or even—gasp!—cricothyroidotomies, his fans, of which there are many, won’t be disappointed.
Instead, when they open the pages of CRITICAL CONDITION, which will be released on April 15, they’ll get guns and blood and a stranger being shot on the front lawn of Dr. Shannon Frasier, which, throws a definite damper on the dinner party she’s throwing. And that, Mabry says “is only the first in a series of events that has her life teetering on the edge of chaos.” Then the teeter becomes, as Mabry describes it, “a plunge into the abyss” when Shannon starts receiving phone calls from a person with a guttural voice who wants to know what the stranger said before he died and won’t accept that she doesn’t know. He’s coming for her and Shannon’s not sure the police on the case can be trusted. Her only hope of escape—for herself and those she loves—is to overcome her buried past.
“I took a number of situations with which I was familiar, either through personal experience or that of friends or family, and combined them, then I stuck my protagonist in the middle of this mess and watched as she worked her way through her ordeal,” Mabry says.
And that, folks, makes CRITICAL CONDITION a page-turner, and far, far cry from “Corticosteroids in Otolaryngology: Intraturbinal Injection.”
A little background to this endeavor…
Each and every second 4.17 people are born while only 1.80 die. At this rate we add more than one-quarter million infants, most born into dire poverty and malnutrition, daily. This equates to having to find both the room and resources for a populace the size of metropolitan Los Angeles (4,000,000+) every two weeks or so. Germany is pretty big, yet we grow by its 85 million every year, and the United States’ 330 million every four years. Whereas it took humanity 2.3 million years to finally reach one billion (achieved in 1805) we’re now chugging past 7 billion and adding additional billions every 14 years. This has been termed “the momentum of folly.”
This rampant growth would not be bad if not for the fact that overpopulation is the primary driver behind most, if not all, of our environmental and societal challenges and, hence, poses the single greatest threat to life as we know it. Most scientists agree we are entering our planet’s sixth known (but first anthropogenic) mass extinction event wherein—due primarily to ocean acidification, climate change, habitat loss, and our own insatiable appetites—it is predicted that up to 40% of all life forms on our planet will become extinct by the end of this century. It is also of general consensus that the estimated sustainable carrying capacity of the Earth is only about 2 billion people. Just 2 billion, and yet we’re well past 7 billion and seemingly destined to break 11 billion, all the while increasing our per capita consumption of resources and greenhouse gas output.
HIDE AND SEEK is the latest in Amy Shojai’s critically acclaimed “Thrillers with Bite!” series, a follow up to her debut, LOST AND FOUND. James Rollins, NEW YORK TIMES bestseller of THE EYE OF GOD, said, “HIDE AND SEEK masterfully blends ripped-from-the-headlines urgency with an emotional story of real characters in escalating dangers. Written with authority and deft brilliance that any lover of animals or nerve-jangling thrillers will cherish.”
Eight years ago, animal behaviorist September Day escaped a sadistic captor who left her ashamed, terrified, and struggling with PTSD. She trusts no one—except her cat Macy and service dog Shadow. Shadow also struggles with trust. A German Shepherd autism service dog who rescued his child partner only to lose his boy forever, Shadow’s crippling fear of abandonment shakes his faith in humans.
They are each others’ only chance to survive the stalker’s vicious payback, but have only twenty-four hours to uncover the truth about Macy’s mysterious illness or pay the deadly consequences. When September learns to trust again, and a good dog takes a chance on love, together they find hope in the midst of despair—and discover what family really means.
Tell us something about HIDE AND SEEK that isn’t mentioned in the publisher’s synopsis.
Recently, many pets have disappeared, increasing the demand for September and Shadow’s pet tracking skills. A reporter suggests it’s due to a mysterious illness—and then he ends up dead. When September’s cat also becomes sick, and family and friends go missing, September must hide from her stalker while she seeks the source of the poison, or the pets won’t be the only innocent victims.
The summer I turned 15, my best friend handed me a dog-eared paperback copy of Michael Crichton’s CONGO.
Read this, he urged. You’ll love it.
I studied the book jacket without enthusiasm. It was 1985, and I was skeptical for several reasons: I had never heard of Michael Crichton; my literary tastes at the time skewed heavily toward fantasy, horror, and classic science fiction; and a book about an expedition into an African jungle in search of ancient diamond mines sounded pretty unoriginal.
But I flipped through the first few pages anyway.
And then I couldn’t stop.
I was hooked.
It was distilled, intoxicating escapism and the first book I ever read in one sitting. Killer hippos. High-tech gadgets. Crashing planes. Mutant gorillas. Lost cities. Exploding volcanoes.
Did I mention the killer hippos?
Plastered to the sofa in our family room, wrestling with the almost irresistible urge to skip straight to the ending, I discovered the simple but heady pleasures of a well-crafted thriller. By the time I finished the last sentence and finally came up for air, it was late at night—or maybe early in the morning. Who cares? I was exhausted and giddy and wanted more.
In THE JANUS LEGACY, Lisa von Biela has done it again. As in THE GENESIS CODE, she tells a great story while at the same time raising questions about the implications of technology on the human race, weaving challenging ethical themes within fast-paced narration, precision-tooled plotting, and deep characterization.
Here’s the jacket description:
“THE JANUS LEGACY—is it a gift or a curse? Does it bring life or death? Is it a miraculous new beginning for the human race or a step closer to the end of everything?
Some doors should never be opened …
Jeremy Magnusson’s life changes forever when his estranged father, the renowned physician Ivan Magnusson, is killed in a plane crash.
Recently dumped by his girlfriend and suffering from a serious, likely fatal disease, Jeremy faces a choice: take over SomaGene, Ivan’s highly successful custom organ cultivation and transplant operation, and inherit all his wealth.
Or turn the job down and inherit nothing.
Only later, once he’s assumed the position, does Jeremy realize his father left him more than the company.
Richard L. Mabry had a long and successful career as a physician before a personal loss made him turn to journaling as a source of solace. That first experience with writing led to THE TENDER SCAR, a book about coping with grief that is still in print and has helped many people through similar situations. It also gave him the writing bug, and he has gone on to publish a series of medical thrillers that gains new fans with each book.
Richard’s books have been finalists for the Carol Award and Romantic Times Inspirational Book of the Year. LETHAL REMEDY won a 2012 Selah Award from the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference. His medical thriller STRESS TEST garnered rave reviews from LIBRARY JOURNAL and PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, along with endorsements from such authors as Tess Gerritsen and Michael Palmer. His latest novel, HEART FAILURE, was released on October 15.
In HEART FAILURE, Dr. Carrie Markham is recovering from the death of her husband, establishing her medical practice, and finding new happiness in her engagement to paralegal Adam Davidson until a drive-by shooting leads to shocking revelations about her fiancé. With threats against both Adam and Carrie escalating, she faces a wrenching choice between her own safety and the man she loves.
By Jeff Ayers
Dr. Matt Newman thought he was leaving his life as a surgeon in private practice for a better one in academic medicine. But the kidnappers who attacked him as he left his last shift in the ER have no such plans—they just want him dead. Matt’s escape comes at a price: a head injury that lands him in the ICU . . . where he awakens to discover he’s being charged with murder.
Welcome to STRESS TEST, the latest medical suspense thriller from Dr. Richard Mabry. Mabry is a retired physician and the author of four published novels of medical suspense. His books have been finalists in competitions including the Carol Award and Romantic Times’ Inspirational Book of the Year. His latest novel, LETHAL REMEDY, won a 2012 Selah Award. He and his wife live in North Texas.
In addition to his time as a physician, Mabry also served time in the military. When asked about it, he said, “I served almost three years in the Air Force, reaching the position of Deputy Hospital Commander at our base in the Azores. The Hospital Commander and I did get written up in STARS AND STRIPES for removing a coin from the throat of a native child, but medically, it was really no big deal. May not even be worth mentioning.”
She found the first victim…now she might be the next. In South-Western Ontario a crafty, vicious psychopath is at work excising the kidneys of the women he abducts. Doctor Claire Valincourt, recently jilted, finds his first victim and assists with the autopsy. But little does she know the killer has his sights on her, too. Relationship-jaded Detective Gerry Rosko desperately searches for a serial killer who is on a quest of his own—the hunt for a perfect kidney for the terminally ill mother he tends. Will Rosko track him down before Claire becomes his next victim?
By Ethan Cross
Patricia Gussin has practiced medicine, worked in the medical research industry, and co-founded Oceanview Publishing where she serves as president and editor. In addition to these fascinating fields, she’s also found the time to craft books that have been described as being “Authentic, insightful, and incredibly scary” and combining “Relentless suspense and pitch-perfect medical details.”
Life is good for Dr. Laura Nelson. Her kids have their ups and downs, but seem well adjusted to high school and college; her research project at the university is going well; and she is highly regarded as the chief of surgery at Tampa City Hospital. This sense of tranquility is disrupted when she is drawn into the diagnosis of the first case of HIV/AIDS seen in Tampa.
But the challenge of this new disease is dwarfed by the disaster that impacts Laura’s life a few days later. A highly resistant bacterial infection is raging in the surgical intensive care unit, and patients are dying. To make matters worse, Laura’s daughter is exposed to the bacteria and begins to show symptoms.
Desperate at this point, Laura calls her young friend, Dr. Stacy Jones, at the CDC in Atlanta. Stacy arrives in Tampa, unaware that a deadly plot is underway in Atlanta as a covert white supremacist cell plans an unthinkable attack on a massive scale.
By Ian Walkley
This taut, intelligent, and emotionally gripping new thriller from master storyteller Steven James introduces readers to a new character, expose’ filmmaker Jevin Banks. While investigating a controversial neurological research program, Jevin is drawn into a far-reaching conspiracy involving one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical firms. After giving up his career as an escape artist and illusionist in the wake of his wife and sons’ tragic death, Jevin is seeking not only answers about the questionable mind-to-mind communication program, but also answers to why his family suffered as they did. Rooted in ground-breaking science and inspired by actual research, PLACEBO explores the far reaches of science, consciousness, and faith.
Steven James is the author of more than thirty books including the critically acclaimed Patrick Bowers thriller series. He has a master’s degree in storytelling and has taught writing and creative communication on three continents. When he’s not writing or speaking, you’ll find him trail running, rock climbing, or drinking a dark roast coffee near his home in eastern Tennessee. Visit him online on his website, blog and Facebook.
PLACEBO will be released in November 2012 through Baker Publishing Group.
Amy Shojai is the award-winning author of 24 nonfiction pet books and a certified animal behavior consultant. Her expertise has resulted into her being featured in THE NEW YORK TIMES and publications such as the READER’S DIGEST. She’s also appeared on radio and television, including CNN and ANIMAL PLANET.
Her first fiction work is a thriller called LOST AND FOUND. This story gives Amy the opportunity to incorporate her intimate understanding of the relationship between people and their pets into an exciting, entertaining story full of fun, adventure, and intrigue.
Fortunately for us, the author has taken some of her busy day to answer a few questions about herself and her work, her writing process, and her debut thriller, LOST AND FOUND.
A brilliant but psychopathic microbiologist-turned-terrorist is about to unleash weaponized Ebola, the Black Death of the 21st century, on a major American city.
Ebola. No vaccine. No cure. No hope. If you contract the virus, pray that you die quickly, for death by Ebola is beyond excruciating.
Only one man, Richard Wainwright, has enough information to stop a potential global plague.
But he’s wounded, wanted for murder and being hunted by a German hit-woman.
He doesn’t stand a chance.
A mysterious new contagion is decimating the population. It starts in the lungs, like the flu, then moves to the bones, where it weakens and breaks them, eventually killing the host. The disease’s origin, methods of propagation and means of contraction are all unknown. There is no vaccine, and none is expected, as the virus is protean and elusive. If it remains unchecked and mutates into a more virulent form, it will become an extinction level event.
Jason Kramer has the disease, known by its nickname “Trips Lite” (the CDC doctor who discovered it is a fan of Stephen King’s “The Stand”), but his body produces a unique antibody that kills the viruses inside him. This component in Jason’s blood can be harvested and given to anyone who needs it—his blood can heal. But pharmaceutical magnate Phillip Porter needs to keep people believing that only his expensive drug cocktail will slow Trips Lite down, and so if there’s any chance someone with the disease will live, Phillip Porter must make sure that Jason Kramer does not.
A prominent entrepreneur and venture capitalist decides to fund a controversial new company, to enhance the oldest and most frequently performed surgical procedure in the World – Abortion.
Unknowingly, self-serving Scientists are manipulated to develop new extraction techniques on innocent, fertile or pregnant young women who have either been abducted or obtained through human trafficking. When patients are brutalized and some go missing, the new promising venture turns into a hellish nightmare.
In a moral struggle between right and wrong, humility and greed, and eventually life and death, be prepared to be dragged through a dark and brutal new world where human life becomes the equity of evil.
If you like medical thrillers with complex plots and intriguing characters, then I hope Santa left THE IMMORTALISTS by Kyle Mills in your stocking because it’s just what you were looking for.
The novel follows Dr. Richard Draman in his desperate search for a cure for progeria, a disease that causes children to age at a wildly accelerated rate. Draman’s daughter is dying from this rare genetic condition. He receives a copy of some classified work being done on this disease just before the researcher’s mysterious suicide. While the secret research offers hope for his daughter, it also soon has Draman on the run, pursued by a powerful group that knows the papers he has could change everything we know about biology.
By Ethan Cross
Neal Baer and Jonathan Greene have been the creative driving forces behind some of television’s most popular dramas including LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT and ER. But they have now delved into the world of novels with a debut that has been described as “a psychological thriller of the first order” and a “masterwork of psychological suspense.”
Their novel, KILL SWITCH, is the first of a series featuring Dr. Claire Waters, a brilliant, young forensic psychiatrist with unnervingly personal insight into the criminal mind. Haunted by a disturbing childhood incident in which her best friend was abducted and never found, Claire has always been drawn to those rare “untreatable” patients who seem to have no conscience or fear. She has a natural ability to put people at ease, to draw out their darkest secrets, and she believes that by understanding what motivates violent criminals, she can help prevent them from committing further crimes. But one shocking case could make or break her career — and it’s waiting for her in the psychiatric wing of New York City’s Rikers Island Prison.
By Don Helin
In RESUSCITATION, D.M Annechino, a former book editor who spent two years researching serial killers before penning his gripping and memorable debut novel, THEY NEVER DIE QUIETLY, wanted to explore the dark side of a successful cardiothoracic surgeon’s desire to make medical history . . .even at the expense of those he should most want to help.
Resuscitation explores what would drive a doctor to violate his Hippocratic oath to abstain from doing harm, and find perverse pleasure in doing so. It is a chilling question, one that author Daniel Annechino explores in heart stopping detail in RESUSCITATION, a fast-paced thriller, that pits a cunning killer against a single-minded cop. When Sami goes after a doctor who is using his victims as guinea pigs for horrific surgical experiments, she never dreams she may become one of the hunted ones.
By Diane Holmes
No thriller is more personal than the medical thriller. We all get ill or injured. Any one of us could die… today. And sometimes, what we trust the most, medicine, is the biggest danger of all.
In Richard L. Mabry’s latest novel, LETHAL REMEDY, Dr. Sara Miles’ patient is on the threshold of death from an overwhelming, highly resistant infection with Staphylococcus luciferus, simply known to doctors as “the killer.” Only an experimental antibiotic, developed and administered by Sara’s ex-husband, Dr. Jack Ingersoll, can save the girl’s life.
Dr. John Ramsey is seeking to put his life together after the death of his wife by joining the medical school faculty. But his decision could prove to be costly, even fatal.
In the murky shadows of an alley lies a female’s severed hand. On the tenement rooftop above is the corpse belonging to that hand, a red-haired woman dressed all in black, the body nearly decapitated. Two strands of silver hair — not human — cling to her body. They are Rizzoli’s only clues, but they’re enough for her and medical examiner Maura Isles to make a startling discovery: This violent death had a chilling prequel.
Nineteen years earlier, a horrifying murder-suicide in a Chinatown restaurant left five people dead. One woman connected to that massacre is still alive: a mysterious martial arts master who knows a secret she dares not tell, a secret that lives and breathes in the shadows of Chinatown. A secret that may not even be human. Now she’s the target of someone, or something, deeply and relentlessly evil. Cracking a crime resonating with bone-chilling echoes of an ancient Chinese legend, Rizzoli and Isles must outwit an unseen enemy with centuries of cunning — and a swift, avenging blade.
When forensic and criminal behavior expert Dub Walker agrees to help his old friend locate her nineteen-year-old daughter, he never imagines the nightmare that will follow. Authorities discover the bodies of the daughter and of another young woman, in a shallow grave, in a densely wooded area, excavated by feral pigs. Far more disturbing: both young ladies were buried after undergoing a series of highly technical surgical procedures. Soon, police find nearly two dozen more bodies in various rural locations around the city, and even in the massive midtown public cemetery. Now Dub must unravel the questions. Who would do this? Who had the skill and the equipment to perform these procedures without attracting attention? And more importantly, why?
By Don Helin
In his latest novel, Tunnel Vision, International best-selling author Gray Braver unleashes a plot so fiendish that New York Times best-selling author David Morrell says, “Fascinating and scary, Gary Braver’s Tunnel Vision, goes one step beyond, between life and death. It grabbed me and educated me.”
Dr. Richard L. Mabry is a retired physician who now writes both fiction and nonfiction. His first novel, Code Blue, was published by Abingdon Press in April, 2010, followed by Medical Error in September, and Diagnosis Death in April 2011.
Publishers Weekly reviewers said this about Diagnosis Death, the third novel in Richard Mabry’s Prescription for Trouble series: “…for fans of the gory, gritty details of patient trauma and hospital gossip, this book certainly will be an enjoyable page-turner.”
by Derek Gunn
A virus engineered for genocide has been released in Colorado Springs, leading to mass and seemingly unexplained violence. Some of the survivors of the infection begin to evolve into something that is both less than and more than human. The race is on to prevent world-wide release of the virus.
A. Scott Pearson’s novel Public Anatomy, a Publishers Weekly Editor’s Pick, is due out in hardcover March 7 in parallel with the paperback release of Pearson’s first medical thriller Rupture.
Here’s the jacket copy:
While recovering from a career-threatening injury, surgeon Eli Branch is pulled into the turbulent world of Dr. Liza French, a colleague he hasn’t seen in ten years. Liza uses their past to lure Eli into a highly-publicized debacle in a Memphis hospital that has put her own career in jeopardy. But when the murder of medical personnel at Gates Memorial appears related to Liza’s surgical complication, Eli finds that more lives are at imminent risk.
I spent ten action packed, suspense filled, claustrophobic days in about five hundred pages with Michael Palmer’s newest novel, A HEARTBEAT AWAY. In his 16th book he stirs up a toxic brew of a believable tale of intrigue about domestic terrorism, biological warfare and lust for power-with the seeming intrinsic understanding that our enemies don’t always come from faraway places or speak with accents-sometimes our most dangerous enemy looks like us, stands next to us, or is us.
By Karen Harper
Recently I sat down with CJ Lyons to talk about her newest medical thriller, Critical Condition.
Without giving away the plot’s twists and turns, please let your readers know what CRITICAL CONDITION is about.
CRITICAL CONDITION is the finale of the Angels of Mercy series, so it wraps up all four characters’ storylines in a whiz-bang of a thriller ride…think Die Hard in a hospital. The action takes place in real time, everything happens in less than five hours, which made it so tightly plotted (with four main characters and stories to tell) that I literally wrote the book backwards, starting with who was left alive at the end.
Kathy Reichs can do seemingly anything. She turned her career as a forensic anthropologist into a series of New York Times bestselling books, whose heroine, Tempe Brennan, got her own television show, Fox’s monster hit “Bones.” Kathy has been a producer for all six of this wildly successful series’ seasons (the show recently aired its landmark 100th episode).
In Richard L. Mabry’s newest thriller, Medical Error, Dr. Anna McIntyre’s life was going along just fine until someone else started living it. Her patient died because of an identity mix-up, her medical career is in jeopardy because of forged prescriptions, and her credit is in ruins. She thought things couldn’t get worse, but that was before she opened the envelope.