Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Heartbeat Away - Michael Palmer

A Heartbeat AwayA Heartbeat Away – Michael Palmer
Release Date – February 15, 2011
Evan’s ESS = 7 out of 10
Erin’s ESS = out of 10
Content = R (Language, Adult Content, Violence, Nasty Viruses, Nastier Politicians)

Why: Make sure to block out a good portion of your day before starting this one, otherwise you’ll feel guilty about locking yourself in the bathroom to finish.  A Heartbeat Away was our first glimpse into the world of Michael Palmer and we’ll admit – we were pleasantly surprised.     

Historically, State of the Union addresses are filled with declarations of progress and frustrations at having to battle misguided policies endorsed by the other party.  Few involved would ever expect the release of a lethal virus.  Well, for President Jim Allaire, said event is just the beginning of his nightmare and his only hope lies in a rogue virologist currently spending his leisure time in a maximum security federal prison.  All the while, death is creeping nearer and nearer to Washington’s top officials.      

The tone for A Heartbeat Away is set before chapter 1 even begins with a single page containing the official order of Presidential Succession (doesn’t exactly provide the reader with high hopes of the top brass making it all the way through to the end).  The novel also wrestles with the delicate balance between personal liberties and government protection while constantly blurring the lines of good and evil.  Then again, what would you expect when a bunch of politicians are expected to solve complex problems.  Oh, that reminds us of a joke – stop us if you’ve heard this one...  A politician, a lobbyist and a journalist walk into the Washington Memorial... sorry, we’ve digressed.

Overall, A Heartbeat Away was an exciting read.  There were times when the dialogue became a bit predictable, but otherwise the characters felt very real.  We loved the fact that the plot is veiled in grayness and nothing’s as clear as it appears on the surface.  Literally, the final twist isn’t revealed until the last ten pages.  In summary, A Heartbeat Away provides the perfect fix for any long suffering suspense junkie.

Oh, and before we sign off, we’d like to take about nineteen seconds (time estimate assumes a 9th grade reading comprehension level) to mention a new Facebook page Michael’s set up for the release of A Heartbeat Away.  It gives readers an opportunity to join the discussion on many of the same controversial themes found in his latest book.  New topics are posted each week and none of them permit easy answers.  Actually, we’re heading there right now – you should come too.  Just give us about five minutes or so... our browser’s been running a little slow lately.        

Editor’s Note:  Yes, the last few pages were read in the bathroom...

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