Monday, May 7, 2018

Macmillan Audio Review: The First Family by Michael Palmer and Daniel Palmer

I must admit that I never read a Michael/Daniel Palmer medical mystery so I didn't know that after Michael's untimely death his son Daniel took up the practice. When I saw this premise in the Macmillan Audio's April selections I grabbed it. And oh boy am I glad I did, read on and see why I loved this fast paced thrill ride and why this will NOT be my last by him.

ISBN-13: 9781427293169
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Release Date: 4-17-2018
Length: 11 hours-44 minutes
Source: Macmillan Audio
Buy It: Audible/Kobo


The President’s teenaged son is threatened by a potentially fatal illness that is rooted in dark secrets from a long-buried past.
President Geoffrey Hilliard and his family live in the ever-present glare of the political limelight, with relentless scrutiny of their daily lives. The White House is not an easy place to grow up, so when the President’s son Cam, a sixteen-year-old chess champion, experiences extreme fatigue, moodiness, and an uncharacteristic violent outburst, doctors are quick to dismiss his troubles as teen angst. But Secret Service agent Karen Ray, whose job is to guard the president's family with her life, is convinced Cam’s issues are serious – serious enough to summon her physician ex-husband for a second opinion.
Dr. Lee Blackwood’s concerns are dismissed by the president's team – until Cam gets sicker. Lee must make a diagnosis from a puzzling array of symptoms he's never seen before. His only clue is a patient named Susie Banks, a young musical prodigy who seems to be suffering from the same baffling condition as Cam. Hospitalized after an attempt on her life by a determined killer, Susie’s jeopardy escalates as Cam’s condition takes on a terrifying new dimension.
Is someone trying to murder the President’s son?
As Lee and Karen race for a cure to Cam’s mysterious and deadly disease, they begin to uncover betrayals that breach the highest levels of national security.
Returning to the same Washington, DC setting of The First Patient, which former President

Audio Sample courtesy Macmillan ––

My Review

The First Family
Michael Palmer & Daniel Palmer
Palmer’s latest medical thriller is one he*l heck of a who-done-it dropping readers smack dab into the middle of a whopping mystery and leaving his audience scratching their heads trying to connect the dots and discover this evil villain until the very end. The author’s incisive medically induced narrative validates the content and the wide range of characters both titans and mere mortals alike ooze authenticity - a real winning combo. Dr. Blackwood is an especially compassionate character endearing himself to a wide audience range who fondly remembers their own family practitioner and whose candor about his profession makes this a pseudo cautionary tale about the monetization of the medicine.
This was my first experience with the narration of Fred Berman but it wont be my last because his announcer type style was perfect for this novel. He kept the emotion to a minimum but added a well-timed sigh/gasp etc… when needed keeping a perfect pace for this swift-moving story. His male voices were excellent and his female voices were good. The only thing that could have been better would have been deeper distinctions between the players.
When chess prodigy and the sitting US President’s son Camden Hilliard is suddenly afflicted with strange medical ailments both physical and mental the first family’s personal physician is quick to attribute it to simple teenaged anxiety and depression. However the Secret Service agent who’s been protecting Cam for many years, Karen Ray isn’t so sure and asks her ex-husband and family doc extraordinaire Lee Blackwood to take a look at Cam. While investigating these strange ailments Lee stumbles across another case involving a young woman and violin prodigy with similar problems who happens to attend the same pricey exclusive after school academy but who’s barely hanging on to life after suffering a tragic accident. When near fatal accidents keep happening to this girl Lee and Karen are convinced someone’s trying to kill her and are also convinced both she and Cam are suffering too similar symptoms to be coincidental. But trying to convince the President and First Lady that they know better than the White House doctor will be an uphill battle at most.

More Praise for The First Family-

"What makes this story shine is the mix of compelling characters and intriguing science...Daniel is as adept as his father was at finding suspense in the intricacies of medicine." —Booklist

"Terrifying and all too plausible—Daniel Palmer continues his father's tradition of delivering authentic and high-velocity medical suspense. The combination of medical chills and high-level Washington make The First Family irresistible.” —Joseph Finder, New York Times bestselling author of Paranoia and The Switch

"Palmer's The First Family gives you likable characters to root for, a top-notch villain, and enough excitement to make your hair curl. Have fun with this thriller." —Catherine Coulter, author of The Devil's Triangle

“Double the trouble, twice the action, and quadruple the enjoyment, this is a high-octane game changer.” —Steve Berry, New York Times bestselling author of The Bishop's Pawn and The Lost Order

“High-stakes and intelligent, The First Family is everything you want in a medical thriller. Chilling!”
—Robert Dugoni #1 Amazon, Wall Street Journal and New York Times bestselling author of My Sisters Grave

"The First Family is adrenaline-fueled entertainment that twists, turns, surprises and satisfies!” -John Lescroart, New York Times bestselling author

"A Palmer novel transports you into the complex world of medical-legal-social ethics. The First Family doesn't disappoint, wrestling with the murky questions of what we can do versus what we should do. Gripping.” —Kathy Reichs, New York Times bestselling author and creator of Bones

Prefer print -  Excerpt courtesy St. Martin's Press


The terror never went away. It should have by now. After all this time, she should not have been so afraid. Her long legs shook beneath the silky fabric of an elegant red gown. She inhaled deeply to calm herself, but perspiration coated her fingers anyway. That could be a problem. Her ears picked up each twitch, rustle, and breath in the cavernous room. They were watching her every move. Her delicate face stared back at them with a blank expression that hid her mounting anxiety.
The concert hall was sold out. Thunderous applause for her had just died down, and this was the brief interlude before the music began. Her heart beat so loudly she feared the microphone would pick up the sound. She stood alone in the center of a large stage, a spotlight targeting her as if this were a prison break. In her right hand she clutched a violin with a bright amber finish and stunning marbled flame, expertly antiqued.
Scanning the hall, she searched for the rangy man with square shoulders and the slender woman who was an older version of herself. There they were in their usual location, third row: Doug and Allison Banks, her parents. Her name was Susie Banks, and she was their only daughter, their pride and joy. Without their support Susie would not be standing on the stage of the Kennedy Center, chosen from hundreds of hopefuls to open the National Symphony Orchestra’s evening performance with a solo piece.
This moment had seemed inevitable from Susie’s earliest days. She was two years old when she played her first song on the piano—a ringtone from her mother’s cell phone she had replicated by ear. Soon she began plinking out melodies she heard on the radio. By the age of five, Susie could play Bach’s Minuet in G Major, never having taken a lesson. Words like “prodigy” and “special” got bandied about, but Susie did not understand what it all meant, nor did she care. She had found this amazing thing called music, and the music made her happy.
The day her mother put a violin in her hand, Susie’s whole world came into even sharper focus. She felt a kinship with the instrument, understood it in a profound way. One year into her study she flawlessly performed Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5 during a student recital. For Susie, the notes were more than dots on the sheet music. As she played, she could see them dance before her eyes, swirling and twirling like a flock of starlings in flight. She would practice daily, hours passing like minutes, her joy unfettered and boundless. She did not have many close friends growing up, always needing to practice, or rehearse, or perform. Yet she never felt lonely, or alone. Music was her constant companion, her first true love.
Now nineteen, Susie was poised for a professional career. She had taken a gap year between high school and college to work on her craft. With hundreds of concerts on her résumé, she had hoped her stage fright would be a thing of the past. But it was present as always and would remain with her until she played the first note.
This was a hugely important showcase. The conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra was in the audience specifically to hear her play. If all went well, it was possible she would be moving to Chicago.
Susie set her chin on the smooth ebony chin rest and pushed the conductor from her thoughts. All sound evaporated from the room. She had no sheet music to follow. She had long ago committed the Chaconne from Bach’s Partita No. 2 for solo violin to memory.
She took one last readying breath, drew the bow across the strings, and conquered the powerful opening double stop like a pro. The audience, the hall itself, seemed to vanish as she drifted into the other place where the music came from. Her body swayed to the rhythm and flow as Bach’s notes poured from her instrument.
The bow and her fingers became a blur of movement. Susie kept her eyes open as she played, but she saw nothing while she felt everything. A brilliant shrill wafted from the violin, a melody sparkling and pure in triple time, followed by an austere passage of darker, more muted tones. Years of dedication, all the things she had sacrificed, were worth it for this feeling alone, such indescribable freedom.
She had reached measure eighty-nine, near the halfway point. Drawing the bow toward her, Susie geared up for the next variation, where the bass became melodic and the diatonic form resumed. Up to that point her playing had been perfect, but suddenly and inexplicably came a terrible screech. Susie’s arms jerked violently out in front of her, the bow dragging erratically across the strings. Her chin slid free of the chin rest as her violin shot outward.
A collective gasp rose from the audience. Shocked, unable to process what had happened to her, Susie repositioned the violin. Her professionalism took over. Her reset was more a reflex than anything. She drew the bow across the strings once more, but only a warbling sound came out. The next instant, her arms flailed spastically in front of her again in yet another violent paroxysm, as if her limbs had separated from her body, developed a mind of their own. She tried to regain control of her arms, willing it to happen, but it was no use. The wild movements occurred without her thought, like those body starts she’d been having before she fell asleep: first the sensation of falling, followed by a jarring startle back into consciousness. Only this time she was wide awake. No matter how hard Susie strained, she could not stop her arms from convulsing. It was the most terrifying, out-of-control sensation she had ever experienced.
When the next spasm struck, Susie’s fingers opened. The violin slipped from her grasp and hit the stage floor with a sickening crack. Another gasp rose from the audience, this one louder than the first. Susie was helpless to do anything but stand facing everyone with her arms twitching like two live wires. As suddenly as those seizures came on, her limbs went still, as if a switch had been turned off. She raised her arms slowly, studying them with bewilderment. Then, she directed her gaze to the violin at her feet. For a moment she could not breathe. Murmurs from the audience reverberated in her ears.
Bending down, she gingerly retrieved the broken instrument, fearing another attack was imminent. She stood up tall. The violin dangled at her side with a gap in the wood like a missing tooth. She searched the audience for her parents, but could not see them through the haze of lights and the blur of tears.
Frozen in the spotlight, her cheeks red and burning, blinking rapidly, Susie gave one sob as she backed away. A voice in her head howled: What happened to me? She stumbled into the back curtain, fumbling for an escape, pawing at the fabric, desperate to get away. Realizing her mistake, she reoriented to the right and dashed offstage.
The quiet concert hall carried only the echo of Susie’s heels, tapping out a fast, unsteady beat.
* * *
ROW EIGHT, center seat.
His name was Mark Mueller, but those who knew him well called him Mauser—a reference to his favorite weapon, the German-made Mauser C96 semiautomatic pistol, last manufactured in 1937. Mauser kept his thick blond hair combed back to expose a wide and flat forehead. The green shirt he had picked out for this concert covered his tattoos and fit snugly against a body that bulged with muscles from years of pumping iron in the yard.
Calmly, Mauser watched Susie come unglued. His gray eyes sparked and his top lip curled, putting an arch in his bushy blond mustache. When people in the audience got up from their seats, Mauser did the same. He strode into the foyer with his cell phone out.
“It happened,” Mauser said. He described what he’d seen.
It was all the information Rainmaker needed to mark Susie Banks for death.

Copyright © 2018 by Daniel Palmer
Other works by Michael/Daniel Palmer

Connect with Daniel - Website - Facebook - Twitter

Meet Daniel:DANIEL PALMER is the author of four critically-acclaimed suspense novels. After receiving his master’s degree from Boston University, he spent a decade as an e-commerce pioneer. A recording artist, accomplished blues harmonica player, and lifelong Red Sox fan, Daniel lives in New Hampshire with his wife and two children where he is currently at work on his next novel.

Read a note from Daniel about continuing his father's legacy HERE


  1. I love a good medical thriller and this sounds very interesting. Great review Debbie!

  2. I love stories that can keep me on my toes. I haven't heard of this series before. I will have to check it out more.

    1. it's not a series Ali they're all stand alones so not much commitment!

  3. I hadn't heard of this one but it sure sounds interesting. Just have to add more books to my reading list. lol

  4. This sounds like a great thriller to listen to this summer. Thanks Debbie!

  5. I was sure I commented...must have meant to and then baby s must haev stopped me ;)

    I should try something like this on audio one day

    1. Blodeuedd sorry but I was chucking when I read this ;-)

  6. Thank you for sharing the first chapter, and you great review too. I think this sounds like something I would definitely enjoy.

    1. Oh yeah Jenea I had you in mind the whole read!

  7. I was intrigued just from the premise let alone your review and the excerpt. I can see why you snagged it and loved it, Debbie.

  8. Oooh! this sounds intriguing. It has been awhile since I have read a medical thriller. I may just give this a try. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Debbie I am a shoo in for anything Presidental, I guess because I don't live in the USA. I love the sound of this novel and I like already the character of Dr Blackwood.

    1. Lee Blackwood was that doctor you remember from your past, the good one LOL

  10. Yay for finding a good one. I'd not heard of them.