Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Michael Palmer Gives Us #18!

18 novels is a lot of novels.  #18, Political Suicide, will hit the bookstores December 11.  I just finished the ARC (advanced reading copy).  And, like all of his others, I liked it.  And I would recommend it.  This one is the 2nd straight book with the same protagonist - Dr. Lou Welcome.  Lou, a few years back, temporarily lost his medical license due to substance abuse.  With the help of a mentor, Lou has recovered and is, himself, working part-time at the Physician Wellness Office (PWO) in Washington D.C., helping other doctors in the same situation that he was in.  His full-time job is as an emergency room doctor in a local hospital.

The plot for this novel revolves around a doctor, Gary McHugh, who is under the care of the PWO.  He is having an affair with the wife of a prominent senator.  When the senator is murdered in his own home, at the same time that McHugh goes on a bender, blacks out, and crashes his car near the senator's house, it's pretty obvious to the police that McHugh is the guilty party.  In fact, they don't even make any effort to investigate whether it might have been someone else.

Lou sees Gary and believes him when he says that he didn't do it.  But how is he going to prove it?  He attempts to do this with the help of Cap Duncan, his mentor and an ex-prize fighter, Sarah Cooper, an attorney from the firm representing McHugh, and Papa Steve, a soldier who was best friends with the slain senator.  If you factor in Emily, Lou's 13-year old daughter, Edith Harmon, a blind woman who runs a small-town newspaper, and Officer Judy, a local policewoman who seems more interested in romance than police work, there are a lot of interesting characters.  Palmer always does a good job of surrounding the main protagonist with compelling supporting actors.

The other thing that Palmer does is include some kind of medical mystery in his books.  Until the last few, they always centered on doctors and hospitals in Boston.  The last three, while maintaining the interesting medical plot, have come from Washington D.C.  I don't know why he changed the venue, but I'm fine with it.

In this case, there is a special forces military group called Mantis.  These guys are tougher than the Navy Seals (you won't believe their initiation rites!).  There are about 700 members of Mantis, and they're led (and controlled) by a Colonel Wyatt Brody.  It doesn't seem that this group would have anything to do with medicine.  But wait.  When Brody did his doctoral thesis, many years earlier, the subject was about the elimination of fear through drinking a certain concoction.  Do you see where this is going?

I've said this before.  I like Michael Palmer.  I've read all 18 of his novels and have enjoyed each one.  They are guaranteed to entertain.  I think that's all anybody can ask of an author.  As the old Alka Seltzer commercial says:  "Try it, you'll like it."

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