Michael Palmer was an MD and the author of books of fiction both on medically related themes as well as other novels. He passed away suddenly in 2013 leaving a void in the literary world that will be difficult to fill. He did, as many authors do, have ideas as outlines of books in the planning stage. His son, Daniel Palmer, who is not an MD but has a background in the high tech area, has written successful novels involved with domestic suspense. Daniel has taken background and outline from an idea being developed by his father and completed a novel based on a conspiracy in the medical field.
Dr. Carrie Bryant, a young neurosurgeon, is a highly regarded doctor in residence at White Memorial hospital. Due to scheduling difficulties, she is given a chance to do her first unsupervised brain surgery. She performs the difficult procedure but unforeseen complications arise. While exhausted, Carrie has to rush back to her patient and makes a tragic mistake resulting in permanent brain damage.
During the inquest, Carrie feels impelled to resign her position at White Memorial. She moves back into her parents’ house in order to get herself together to continue with her medical career. Her brother Adam, a returning veteran suffering from PTSD after being in combat, also lives there and his condition leads Carrie into exploring another, different job.
When Carrie learns about a new technique involving Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) being tested as a treatment for the emotional and memory trauma occurring in PTSD by the VA, she decides to enter that program as a surgeon and as a way back into medicine. Her first operation is successful, but amazingly the patient mysteriously vanishes. Almost immediately after her second operation, also successful, has the same result – the patient vanishes.
David Hoffman, an investigative reporter with a local newspaper, is writing a story about the incidence of PTSD in returning veterans and in his work has interviewed Carrie. She feels free to ask him to start investigating the disappearances, which he does. The investigation uncovers a conspiracy going to the very top of the Veterans Administration and exposes both Carrie and David to great danger.
Daniel Palmer incorporates his father’s notes and explanations into the novel making it both a fascinating medical plot as well as an adventure into a major conspiracy. Very readable with explanations about PTSD and its effects on many combat veterans with a need to develop new procedures to help them return to civilian life.
5/15 Paul Lane
TRAUMA by Michael Palmer & Daniel Palmer. Simon & Schuster (May 19, 2015). ISBN: 978-1476764856. 320p.