A Heartbeat Away: Book summary and reviews of A Heartbeat Away by Michael Palmer

A Heartbeat Away

By Michael Palmer

A Heartbeat Away
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  • Published in USA  Feb 2011,
    384 pages.

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Book Summary

On the night of the State of the Union address, President Max Hilliard expects to give the speech of his career. But no one anticipates the terrifying turn of events that forces him to quarantine everyone in the Capitol building. A terrorist group calling itself "Genesis" has unleashed WRX3883, a deadly, highly contagious virus, into the building.

No one fully knows the deadly effect of the germ except for the team responsible for its development—a team headed by Hilliard, himself. The only one who might be able to help is virologist Griffin Rhodes, currently in solitary confinement in a maximum security federal prison for alleged terrorist acts, including the attempted theft of WRX3883 from the lab where he worked. Rhodes has no idea why he has been arrested, but when Hilliard offers to free him in exchange for his help combating the virus, he reluctantly agrees to do what he can to support the government that has imprisoned him without apparent cause.

Meanwhile, every single person in line for presidential succession is trapped inside the Capitol—every person except one: the Director of Homeland Security, who is safely at home in Minnesota, having been selected as the "Designated Survivor" for this event. With enemies both named and unnamed closing in, and the security of the nation at stake, Griff must unravel the mysteries of WRX3883 without violating his pledge as a scientist to use no animal testing in his experiments…and time is running out.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Readers with a low tolerance for the hyperbolic are advised to give this one a pass." - Publishers Weekly

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Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by fran Lewis
A Heartbeat Away reviewed by fran lewis
The American people have the right to know hear the truth about the economy, war on terrorism, taxes and of course the State of the Union, except when they’re not. Protecting the government from creating pandemonium and a public pandemic is often uppermost in the mind of the President when faced with a crisis. Security is often tight; you could not preach it except if you are part of it. What if a terrorist organization unleashed a deadly virus during the State of the Union Address exposing 700 government officials with no way out and no hope for survival? What if those in line for the Presidency were all present except for one man, The Designated Survivor? What is WRX3883, this deadly virus, and can anyone stop it from spreading? Who or what is Genesis, the organization taking responsibility for it and how were they able to infiltrate the House Chamber and unleash it. Chaos, fear and anger ensue and one man stands to lose: The President. Imagine opening your purse, pocketbook or briefcase and becoming engulfed, enveloped and surrounded by a deadly white mist. Coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing and definite mental impairment are just some of what you can expect as you learn more from my review of this five star novel by author Michael Palmer: “A Heartbeat Away.”

God created the world in seven days and a group calling themselves Genesis was determined to destroy it. Genesis: “the beginning of the war.”

This virus was developed to fight the war on terror and if injected, would help interrogate the enemy and force them to tell the truth. However, the strain had side effects. When five canisters were stolen and the project was halted, it was too late. As the President informs a select few of what he hopes are trusted officials including medical and military personnel, they learn the hard fast truth and what their fate might be. Having to quarantine 700 people the President must enlist the help of one virologist hoping to stop this virus before things worse. Griffin Rhodes, a virologist is in prison in solitary confinement thought to be a suspected terrorist and the person who stole the virus. One President caught in the crossfire hoping those he entrusts are not the ones who caused the disaster. But, not everyone is what he or she seems. The results of releasing him would catastrophic or heroic.

Rhodes holds the key to a possible solution and one Director of Homeland, Security; the designated survivor plays an integral part in this camouflage of deceit, greed and power with his own agenda.

The man behind Genesis calls himself Cain. Cain killed his brother Abel out of jealously. Could Griffin Rhodes and his ability to stop Genesis be Cain’s Abel and the reason he was framed for the theft? Or is there a different ultimate prize all of the players seek?



Along with New York Post reporter Angela Fletcher and his assistant, they venture back into his lab to find the answers to finding the vaccine to cure those infected or lose the battle entirely.


Genesis will compromise anyone’s ethics in order to execute their master plan. Speaker of the House, Ursula Ellis has no scruples, cares nothing for the final outcome and sells her soul to Genesis when approached for the ultimate prize: The Presidency. Their demands, what they expect of her if accomplished would change the complexion and course of our country’s safety, privacy acts and immigration laws. Creating a committee to investigate the death of a State Senator, Ellis enlists the aid of many of her colleagues to dismantle the Presidency and forges ahead with her own goals, even murder.

There are many players who stand to lose but only one who will come out the victor as author Michael Palmer takes the reader on a ride into the inner workings of a terrorist group bent on destroying what God created on the sixth day: Man. The Virus, Rhodes, Ellis, The President or Genesis: Who will win? Dr. Rhodes will not compromise his ethics and test on humans or animals in order to find the cure for the virus, yet learns its creator might have. Separating those infected into three separate groups allowing medical access to those who might survive. Those exposed the most are most likely to die and therefore suffered alone but not in silence as many faced death and pain in an enclosed room. Who to trust, where do loyalties lie, hard to tell when the one man who could save it all was the one person no one trusted. Ambition, greed, power and more are issues plus the above as many truths come to light in this novel. Lives will be lost and allegiances tested as a chain of events so devastating is set in motion and where it stops, if at all you won’t believe.

Power, greed, deceit, one man’s hope to save so many, one group determined to hold our government hostage and what happens will send shock waves right through you more powerful than earthquake or tornado as author Michael Palmer’s fast paced, realistic and thought provoking novel keeps the reader transfixed until you read the ending and find out the truth.


VERITAS: The Truth: Just One Heartbeat Away!

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Author Information

Michael Palmer Author Biography

Michael Palmer, M.D., is the author of A Heartbeat Away, The Last Surgeon, The Second Opinion, The First Patient, The Fifth Vial, The Society, Fatal, The Patient, Miracle Cure, Critical Judgment, Silent Treatment, Natural Causes, Extreme Measures, Flashback, Side Effects, and The Sisterhood. His books have been translated into thirty-five languages. He trained in internal medicine at Boston City and Massachusetts General Hospitals, spent twenty years as a full-time practitioner of internal and emergency medicine, and was then an associate director of the Massachusetts Medical Society's physician health program. He died in November 2013

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