Michael Palmer, sadly deceased, is credited as the co-author of this novel. The reason is quite clear; Michael, a medical doctor, utilized the format of medical thrillers in his own novels. Whether the idea is from his father, or based on Daniel’s own extensive research, the novel is definitely an all-nighter for any reader. The plot features a little known medical condition in which a patient with that condition can have a fatal heart attack when frightened.
Dr. Julie Devereux is an outspoken advocate of a patient’s right to die until her fiancé, Sam Talbot, becomes a quadriplegic after a motorcycle accident. Faced with many years of lying helpless Sam begs Julie to help him end his life.
With the help of an organization that has the aim of convincing patients to hang on, with the hope that technology will someday be able to cure whatever the ailment, Julie is able to persuade him to change his mind. But then Sam suffers a fatal heart attack. Examination finds that Sam’s heart had the unusual defect that caused him to succumb to a fright.
When Julie begins to investigate other cases involving this little known defect, she finds that against long odds, there have been other cases at the hospital where she works. She also finds herself subject to threats telling her to forego her investigation. When she does not stop, she is accused of a mercy killing of her own. When even this does not get her to forget her investigation, an attempt on her own life ensues.
Events depicted in the book are rapid fire. Medical conditions are explained for the reader, enabling him or her to understand the consequences of each event. Characters are sufficiently developed for an understanding of their motivations. No problem for Daniel Palmer’s place as a major author to continue with constant demand for his books.
5/16 Paul Lane
MERCY by Daniel Palmer & Michael Palmer. St. Martin’s Press (May 17, 2016). ISBN 978-1250030849. 384p.