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The First Family

Review

The First Family

In 2013, the literary world suffered the untimely loss of Michael Palmer. He had been a bestselling author for decades and saw one of his novels, EXTREME MEASURES, made into a major motion picture starring Gene Hackman and Hugh Grant. During his career, he set the standard for medical thrillers, and they were just as good as the works of Robin Cook and some of Michael Crichton's efforts in that genre. Later in his career, he adeptly melded the medical thriller with the political thriller. Those books, from a political standpoint, were reminiscent of the fiction of David Baldacci and Brad Thor, both of whom seemed to have their finger on the inner workings of the top-secret dealings that take place in the hallways of Washington, D.C.

Since Michael’s passing, son Daniel has picked up the mantle and continues to do his part to keep his father's memory alive. Daniel is an established and well-reviewed writer in his own right, but he put his career on hold to pen novels that worked as collaborations with his father. Whether they were taken from ideas that Michael may have been considering for future books or entirely new works that adhered to Michael’s dramatic storytelling style, Daniel has kept his father's name alive with some top-notch thrillers. The latest, THE FIRST FAMILY, follows MERCY and TRAUMA, each of which were marketed as being written by Michael and Daniel Palmer.

"THE FIRST FAMILY bristles with suspense and tension throughout. Daniel Palmer masterfully combines the best parts of political thriller, medical thriller and whodunit fiction to create an electrifying and frightening read."

THE FIRST FAMILY is a full-fledged political potboiler deftly infused with some cutting-edge medical themes. Things open with a young violinist, Susie Banks, who suffers some sort of a breakdown while performing on stage. Watching her from the audience is a mysterious man named Mark Mueller, who goes by the sinister title “Rainmaker.” His reason for being in attendance that night is to observe Susie and mark her for death.

Next, we are taken inside the White House and the administration of President Geoffrey Hilliard. It is there where Secret Service agent Karen Ray recommends her ex-husband, Dr. Lee Blackwood, as the right medical professional to offer an opinion on the President’s son, Cam. Cam has not been acting like his teenaged self lately, and the current White House physician, Dr. Gleason, is unable to diagnose why. Lee agrees to take a look at Cam, and what he discovers is quite startling. Cam appears to be suffering from numerous issues, some of which Lee has never seen before. The teen begrudgingly admits to having recently wet the bed, and an alarmed Lee wonders exactly what is going on.

The answer to Cam's problems may lie with our young violinist. Susie and Cam share one interesting trait --- they are both students at a special school for the young and gifted, True Potential Institute (or TPI). It appears to be more than a cult, but Lee is confident that TPI must be giving something to their students that is causing medical issues and unpredictable behavior. Further digging turns up other alumni of TPI who have committed suicide. Lee and the Hilliards are seriously concerned by all of this. More puzzling, though, is how the White House physician did not catch any of this.

It develops that Cam and the other TPI students are taking nootropics, which the chairman of TPI, Dr. Matsumoto, feels is not at all related to these medical and mental issues. Everything boils over when Cam decides to run away from home. An enraged President Hilliard, despite the pleading of the First Lady, dismisses Karen as he holds her responsible for not protecting his boy. A nationwide manhunt begins for the First Son. Where has he gone, and is someone else looking for him who has ill intentions?

Suddenly, we are in a race against time as Lee and Karen dig further into a far-reaching conspiracy that originates within the very walls of the White House. There are some dangerous people who want Cam found and silenced before he can return to his family, and it may be too late to prevent this from becoming a reality.

THE FIRST FAMILY bristles with suspense and tension throughout. Daniel Palmer masterfully combines the best parts of political thriller, medical thriller and whodunit fiction to create an electrifying and frightening read.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on May 4, 2018

The First Family
by Michael Palmer and Daniel Palmer

  • Publication Date: April 17, 2018
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • ISBN-10: 1250107423
  • ISBN-13: 9781250107428