Journal of the American Medical Association
Doctors as authors are able to achieve medical plausibility and avoid errors that many readers, especially the medically oriented, will spot. In Palmer's Miracle Cure, the Boston hospital complexes, down to their staff politics, finances, and architecture, have an authentic ring, which makes the thriller believable and all the more frightening.
A highly entertaining tale of greed and medicine run amok.
Packs plenty of heart-stopping action.
Boston Sunday Herald
A fast-paced lively thriller.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this flawed medical thriller about the marketing of a new drug by veteran writer Palmer (The Sisterhood), one plot twist too many turns a frightening vision of corporate greed into an excuse for prefab heroics. The drug is called Vasclear, a heart medication being developed at the Boston Heart Institute by Newbury Pharmaceuticals. The FDA is being pressured by a Massachusetts senator (who, it turns out, is secretly taking Vasclear himself) to approve the release of the drug. And Vasclear may be the magic wand that can save the life of Jack "Coach" Holbrook, whose health is declining after a quintuple bypass. Coach's son, Brian (an M.D. living at home and working as a rental-car gofer while he recovers from an addiction to painkillers), not only faces the ethical dilemma of stealing the drug if he can't place his father as a test patient but also finds evidence of potentially dangerous side effectsevidence that could derail the drug's release to the public. The characters are sitcom thin, the moral dilemma is barely raised before it's resolved and the inclusion of a Chechen Mafia subplot only serves to transport the story further into an unlikely realm, where otherwise efficient killers do nothing more dangerous than send the hero a threat in the mail and members of drug and alcohol recovery groups know more about pharmaceutical companies than the FDA. Palmer's thriller-friendly prose, pacing and plotting draw readers on here, but, like Vasclear, his novel should have spent more time in development before it hit the shelves.
A disgraced doctor finds himself working in an experimental program where patients are dying mysteriously.
From the Publisher
"A highly entertaining tale of greed and medicine run amok."
"Packs plenty of heart-stopping action."
"A fast-paced lively thriller."
Boston Sunday Herald
Read an Excerpt
"Nellie's treadmill stress test was positive," Dr. Carolyn Jessup explained, "and a subsequent cath showed fairly severe coronary artery disease. She was a perfect candidate for randomization into the Vasclear study. Right, Nellie?"
Nellie Hennessey, eyes closed, was breathing deeply and regularly.
"Jennifer," Jessup went on, "maybe we should be giving her a tad less pre-op medication. If I have to stay awake for this, everyone does." She glanced over at the nurse, her eyes smiling. "Seriously, nice job. She's perfect.... Anyhow, Brian, Nellie's symptoms disappeared almost immediately and haven't returned. This is her third and last follow-up cath. Then she becomes an alumna."
"What Vasclear group is she in?" Brian Holbrook asked, already knowing the answer.
"Beta. Okay, Doc, you're on. Let's switch sides. You do the right heart and afterward I'll switch back and do the coronary-artery shots. Nellie's asleep so you're not being graded on this. Just relax and have fun."
Surprised and pleased at being asked to do anything other than observe, Brian moved behind Carolyn to take her place at the table.
"Everything on the Ward-Dunlop works pretty much like the one you're used to," she said, "except the controls are much more responsive, and the connections on the ports just click and lock."
"Impressive," Brian said, proceeding with the pressure studies and dye injections.
The nurse, Jennifer, was working beside him now, keeping a careful watch on Nellie, checking her blood pressure and IV.
"Everything okay?" Brian asked her.
"All systems are go," she replied.
Brian took some pressuremeasurements through the catheter, then injected some dye to check the tricuspid and pulmonic valves. The moment he had thought might never come was here. He was back in the cath lab, regaining control, piece by piece, of his own destiny.
"You seem pretty comfortable there, pardner," Jessup said, returning to her position to do the left heart and coronary-artery exam.
"Just like riding a bike. She's got a pretty healthy-looking heart."
"Wait till you see her coronary arteries. These pictures we're about to shoot are going to be the eighteen-month-afters. The befores are in the cine-library through the door just past the women's changing room. Did security give you a code for the keypad?"
"Great. Sometime soon, go and take a look at Nellie's pre-Vasclear films. We've got two Vangard viewers in there. One for backup."
"I'm impressed," Brian said. The viewers, from what he remembered, cost around twenty thousand dollars apiece.
"You'll be even more impressed when you review her films," Carolyn said. "Now, let's take a look at her left heart and coronaries."
The experimental Ward-Dunlop catheter was exceptionally easy to manipulate, and certainly showed up well on X ray.
"Left anterior oblique cranial...right anterior oblique caudal..."
Jessup called out each angle, waited for Andrew to position the X-ray camera, then injected some dye and activated the camera with her foot pedal. Overhead, one screen showed the bright white of the X-ray-opaque dye as it briefly filled Nellie's coronary arteries before being washed away, and another traced her heartbeat, oxygenation, and other vital signs. In the glassed-in control room to their right, the other nurse, Lauren, monitored duplicate screens, and kept watch over the machine that was recording the injections on videotape. Later, the tape would be reviewed by Jessup, and a report dictated. The width of every significant artery and every blockage would be carefully measured by computer and recorded.
"...Right anterior oblique cranial," Carolyn said, completing the last of the five left coronary-artery views. "Okay, everyone, if there is anyone with reasons why this woman and this catheter should remain in holy matrimony, let him speak now or forever hold his peace.... There being no objections to removal of this line, I hereby do so."
Carolyn withdrew the catheter with the same smoothness, the same confidence, as she had displayed throughout the procedure. But quite suddenly, a brief flurry of extra heartbeats appeared on the screen. Then another burst.
A few moments later, Nellie Hennessey moaned.
Then she opened her eyes.
Then she began screaming.
From the Audio Cassette edition.