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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon March 29, 2008
We read for many reasons. Those who have left rather stinging remarks in their reviews have valid comments. They are perhaps reading for information or enlightenment. Yet, there are other readers who read to escape the routine of their life. They want to fall in love, have an adventure and solve a case, all within the cover of a book. Yes, the plot is rather far fetched but so is Harry Potter and look how many copies it sold! I tend to bristle at technical readers who do not stick to technical media. The categories is NON-FICTION! Dan Brown has received similar comments about his writing. This comments are unfortunate as they may influence an uniformed reader to not purchase Books that are entertaining and escapist. A book that is realistic is called a textbook. They cost ten times what these wonderful little novels do and sell far fewer copies.

All this being said, I feel First Patient has many merits. It has a clever plot. The reader is taken through several twists and is given the surprise ending that thrills us all.

Michael Palmer created some likable characters which are important for our transference into the plot. I think one of the biggest problems a writer faces is creating characters and scenes that are transferring while staying within the confines of what a publisher feels is a marketable length.

I most most impressed by who the villain was. Often, I am ready to put a book aside within the first 50 pages because the writer has given me too much information and I am not inclined to read any further. This was not the case in First Patient.

Anyone wishing to take a small weekend adventure that doesn't use any gasoline or create a motel bill will be satisfied by their First Patient experience.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon April 29, 2008
There is so much of interest in the field of medicine that it seems a shame to use an obscure element in a medical thriller. Nanotechnology (I don't think that's a spoiler) is on the sensational end of medicine: real but not in our everyday medical lexicon. Yet Michael Palmer used it as his "hook" in The First Patient, and used it effectively.

Palmer's smooth style brought me straight into the story. Gabe Singleton, a Wyoming doctor, was a Naval Academy roommate of Andrew Stoddard who is now the President of the United States. Stoddard pays a visit to Gabe and persuades him to come to Washington as the President's personal physician after the previous holder of that position vanished. Another man might see this as a good career move but Gabe has his "baggage" and goes only as a favor to his friend.

Things get ugly fast when the President has what seems to be a psychotic episode; temporary, but not his first. The twenty-fifth amendment to the constitution is waved about (rules of succession should the president be incapacitated). That night someone tries to kill Gabe at a traffic light. Something's rotten in the state of Denmark and Gabe is determined to puzzle it out. There are two beautiful women, horses, impressive real estate, Washington intrigue, ideology in politics.

Michael Palmer always delivers great writing and a brisk pace. His characters are well drawn: the good guys a little flawed, the bad guys wearing a veneer (in some cases very thin) of civility. My personal preference in a medical thriller is that it be grounded a bit more firmly in the plausible, but this book delivers the goods and is sure to please readers far and wide. Four stars, and it would have been four and a half if I had enjoyed the political overtones more. Recommended for a beach read or a rainy night.

Linda Bulger, 2008
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon March 7, 2008
'The First Patient' by Michael Palmer is an entertaining medical/political thriller that revolves around the President of the United States becoming potentially medically unsound and unfit to run the country any more. Palmer is an experienced author who knows his stuff. He has written many books in the past and being an M.D. himself his medical knowledge is vast. The thing I really like about this book is the concept. We have had Presidents die of natural causes, we have had Presidents get shot, but what about the case where the leader of the USA becomes medially unfit to run the country? I guess the closest we came to this recently was when Reagan was shot in 1981 but it hasn't been a reality long term. The author addresses this idea in splendid fashion and has written a fun book that is exciting and fresh.

If you like medical thrillers you will enjoy The First Patient. It's a quick read that is perfect for sitting down in a quiet room with and enjoying with your favorite warm beverage in hand.

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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on February 19, 2008
Very promising story line about someone trying to get to the POTUS (President of the United States) but it gets a little too weird and far out there for my tastes. The premise is that two friends from the Naval Academy are friends. One's life take s a tailspin when he is sent to prison for two murders. He gets out and becomes a doctor. The other, ends up being the US President. When his doctor goes missing, he finds his old school buddy working in Wyoming and lures him to Washington D.C. with lies and promises. The problem it seems, is that the President is becoming mentally ill. Story plays a lot with nanotechnology and futuristic medicine. It was believable up until the free living brains in jars. There are some unexpected twists and the end.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 14, 2009
I usually love books like this--and to his credit, Michael Palmer came up with a great idea for a novel and had an excellent plot. The writing, however, was atrocious!! I had not read a book by Palmer before this, and now I definitely will not read another--the worst part is that all of the dialogues are so cheesy that it really takes away from the story line. The only reason I did not throw this book away was because the plot was still somewhat interesting (and I was on a trip and had not other books!!)

So all in all: Great plot, terrible writer.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
OK first off I am a nurse. Also I have been an editor for a publishing company that produces medical and allied health materials.
I LOVE medical stuff.
This book fell so short -- it was like they gave you a cool premise and then spend 100 pages with background junk and a little paragraph or two about nanotechnology and how heroic and manly the guy from Wyoming was and then Pfffft!
The book just never got off the ground. And once they figure out what the problem is, how did they solve it? Didn't say how they took the nano bots out of the president. Anyway, I love MP but I am so disappointed. It is so hard to find a good medical thriller these days. Guess I will have to write one myself. This was overall, a very lame effort. Sorry.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon April 4, 2008
Gabe is a small time doctor working in Wyoming when he gets summoned to the White House by his long-time friend Drew, who just happens to be the President. It seems that Drew's personal physician(Jim) has mysteriously disappeared and being so close to the election, he wants Gabe to take care of him. Gabe thinks this will be a short-term favor and he will be able to return home soon. When he gets there he finds out that a lot of people are keeping secrets and that the President is being besieged by mysterious attacks where he appears to go through mental seizures.

Add to this, someone appears to be trying to kill Gabe, while the author gives us hints that Jim is still alive and on the run from possibly the same killer.

The book draws some similarities in the characters from the last entry by Michael Palmer (The Fifth Vial) also, in things that happen to characters such as torture.

The book explore what can go wrong with a new technology if it is used the wrong way (remember Michael Crichtons "Prey"). The technology explored is used today by several SciFi writers such a Robert J. Sawyer.

The book held me from the start and is well written. I didn't give it a full five stars because when the reasons for everything are explained at the end I felt that the explainations were improbable.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
The idea of a story of a doctor to a president is a superior story line with lots of promise. Unfortunately, this book doesn't live up to the ultimate promises of the story line possibilities.

Having said that, I enjoyed the book. While not an avid fiction reader, this was rather exciting in a unique way. But, as another reviewer says, it gets a bit too "weird" and I am turned off by that. Some readers may not be.

-Susanna K. Hutcheson
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 3, 2008
I have read most of Palmer's books and found them to be much more exciting than the 'First Patient'. The story line and the characters were appropriate but they were never developed to the point you thought you knew them. Palmer kept endlessly repeating and referring to the tragedy the First Doctor suffered while at the Naval Academy, but never really expanded on it. When there was good action, it started suddenly and ended too quickly.
I wanted to know more about the 'farm' and the missing doctor, the hit squad and other scenes.
Most of all who could believe the secret location of the final scene. Don't you think that would be visible and out of place to normal observation.

I wanted more.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
If you're going to write a novel about underdeveloped characters making one flawed decision after another in less than credible circumstances, you'd better be able to tell a great story. Luckily, Michael Palmer is able to do just that, making The First Patient an entertaining thriller that works well despite its rather obvious flaws. This is my first Michael Palmer novel, so I can't compare this one to the author's list of past medical thrillers, but I can say that there was never a single moment in this one that I forgot I was reading a work of fiction; i.e., I was never completely drawn in to the drama. On a number of occasions, all I could do was smirk, shake my head, and keep reading because I knew that characters in such a situation would never do what these just did.

Gabe Singleton is a most unlikely choice for a U.S. President's personal doctor. Haunted by a drunk driving accident that killed an innocent young woman and her unborn child, got him drummed out of the Naval Academy, and bought him a five-year stay in prison, Gabe somehow got in to a medical school and has tried to compensate for his past wrongs by saving lives as a doctor. He's more than happy on his ranch in Wyoming - but he can't turn down his old friend, President Andrew Stoddard, when he flies in out of the blue, explains that his personal physician has disappeared, and asks Gabe to take his place. In and around Washington, there are rumors that the President's mental dinghy has struck a leak - and Gabe soon learns why, after seeing the President in the throes of an obvious mental episode. Suddenly, he finds himself in the difficult position of determining whether or not this man, currently engaged in a spirited reelection campaign - not to mention his own good friend - has the mental capacity to retain his job as the most powerful man in the world.

Gabe can't turn around without running into a dark secret or conspiracy - starting with his still-missing predecessor and his obvious interest in nanotechnology. In order to save the President, Gabe's going to have to save himself first, as he is targeted for murder in his own right. With no one to trust, not even the pretty nurse who may or may not be who she claims to be, Gabe has to somehow find his inner James Bond if he's ever going to get to the bottom of the high-level conspiracy threatening to destroy and very likely assassinate the President of the United States.

As far as the medical part of this medical thriller goes, the whole nanotechnology bit just doesn't take you all that far. My real problem with the novel, though, comes down to the issue of credibility. I obviously can't delineate all of the specific plot points here, but suffice it to say that all of the main characters make decisions I found less than credible. I had "you must be kidding" reactions to many a plot point, especially toward the end. That ending did hold a couple of real surprises, but they felt quite forced to me - I certainly had no regrets over not seeing such things coming because I think Palmer just threw them in there without having lain any sort of foundation for their sudden existence in the book's closing pages. Ultimately, while I did enjoy reading this fast-paced thriller, I can't say I was all that impressed by it.
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