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Fatal Mass Market Paperback – September 30, 2003

4.2 out of 5 stars 100 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

almer's 10th medical thriller rides on his usual wave of unrelenting adrenaline, and will make readers think twice the next time they're due for a routine vaccination. The physician-hero this time is Matt Ruttledge, a doctor in bucolic Belinda, W.Va. When several of his patients turn up in the emergency room, babbling incoherently and sporting unsightly lumps on their faces, Ruttledge blames the town's main employer, a large mining operation with a history of safety abuses and environmental neglect. As more patients turn up with the same fatal symptoms, Ruttledge discovers that a larger culprit may be responsible: a new supervaccine that's about to hit the market. Backed by powerful political interests and drug companies, the vaccine, called Omnivax, had been tested in Belinda a decade earlier, and its deadly side effects are now finally surfacing. Joined by a group of like-minded medical professionals and a colorful cast of civilians, Ruttledge sets out to stymie the makers of the vaccine. Omnivax's backers, however, have no intention of letting a lone doctor and a gaggle of bumpkins kill their cash cow. As with Palmer's other popular thrillers (The Patient, etc.), the plot at times turns wild to the point of disbelief, and the occasional red herring practically screams its presence the moment it swims into view. But the former ER physician's ability to craft gripping suspense, likable heroes and hateful villains as well as a thought-provoking dialogue about the risks of the nation's vaccination program keep the pulse pounding.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School-Palmer excels at packing current medical issues into a web of suspense. The action begins immediately as people in various cities become afflicted with some unknown malady with bizarre symptoms. Some die quickly from seizures and blood loss, others develop a progressive mental illness along with "Elephant Man"-like growths on their faces and bodies, culminating in uncontrollable violence. Dr. Matt Rutledge is certain that a case he has seen, involving a mine worker for the Belinda Coal and Coke Company, is related to the mine's criminal offenses. He was raised in the West Virginia town and lost his father to alleged safety violations, and his wife to a rare cancer. Certain that her illness was induced by groundwater contamination, Matt has a double score to settle with BC&C. Meanwhile, in Washington, DC, Ellen Kroft, member of the advocacy group PAVE (Parents Advocating Vaccine Education), is struggling with her vote as part of a group evaluating a new megavaccine, Omnivax. In Boston, medical examiner Dr. Nikki Solari has watched the mental deterioration of her talented roommate as strange growths appear on her face. Both Ellen and Nikki travel to Belinda in search of answers. As expected, the three protagonists get together and set about solving the medical mystery, with danger, attempted murder, and bureaucratic strangulation surrounding them. Palmer skillfully juggles many subplots, integrating colorful characters and using current bioscience topics. FDA testing, vaccines, environmental toxins, spongiform encephalitis, greedy pharmaceutical executives, and bad cops-all contribute to the novel's action, suspense, and intrigue.
Carol DeAngelo, Kings Park Library, Burke, VA
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; First Edition edition (September 30, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553583611
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553583618
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.4 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (100 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #402,320 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Konrad Kern VINE VOICE on May 13, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I always enjoy reading a Michael Palmer novel because it always seems to combine controversial medical topics, along with thrills that will please all suspense fans.
Matt Rutledge is a small town doctor in Belinda, WV. He believes the local mining company is causing illness and death (such as his wife's and father's), and is looking real hard for the reason to get the mine shut down. Not a real popular idea amongst the folks in town.
Ellen Kroft is a retired school teacher who believes that a new vaccine that's being introduced nationwide (endorsed by the First Lady) is deadly.
Nikki Solari, a coroner from Massachusetts, is in the town of Belinda to attend her best friend's funeral, when an attempt is made on her life. It seems she might have received some suspicious information about her best friend's death, and somebody wants that information real bad.
As these individuals come together in the story, you get a very exciting and suspenseful novel that should put Palmer on the top of his genre (I think he's already on the top). Lassa fever, Prion diseases and possible problems with vaccinations are just a few of the interesting topics covered. You'll enjoy many of the characters as well. I got a kick out of the dialogue with the mountain men.
Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
One of the great things about Michael Palmer is that he does not feel he has to pump out a book every year, if it is good or not. So when I learn he is putting out a new book I really look forward to it. This book around I just did not feel the need to read every free second I had, like I did with The Patient. Fatal has likeable characters and brings up some things that will make me think next time I take my kids to the doctor, but it just didn't grab me like his earlier novels. It is worth
reading and I believe most people will find this book enjoyable.
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By A Customer on April 30, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Dr. Matt Rutledge obviously knows something is wrong in his hometown of Belinda, West Virginia when several of his patients in for not much more than a cold suddenly die with strange symptoms. He believes that the Belinda Coal and Coke Company has poisoned the air, land, or water or a combination of all three with their usual disregard for safety or environmental health. Matt detests the coal company because their practices led to the death of his father, an employee of Belinda Coal and Coke.

Matt digs deeper into why intelligent people are suddenly babbling and have unsightly lumps on their bodies. He learns that former Belinda residents also have died from the same mysterious ailment. He soon finds out that while he practiced medicine elsewhere, his hometown was the test site of a supervaccine whose consequences are starting to appear. That elixir is about to be approved for use across the country; a few deaths in backwater West Virginia is not enough to stop Omnivax from reaching the marketplace.

Michael Palmer is a sure shot (no pun intended) to have his tenth New York Times best seller with the action-packed FATAL. The story line never slows down from the opening sore throat to the final climax. Readers will admire Matt for his stand against Herculean odds, but what makes him feel real is his deep negative feelings about the coal company. Though the plot seems to go over the edge at times, Mr. Palmer provides a penetrating spot light on America's vaccination program and to a lesser degree the environmental unsafe at any speed record.

Harriet Klausner
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Format: Hardcover
BOOK REVIEW: "Fatal" by Michael Palmer
This is a well-written, fast-paced, action-packed thriller. (I kept seeing a screen play with Harrison Ford or Michael Douglas as "Dr. Rutlidge" in my mind's-eye!) But the most important issue that is tackled in his book --the potentially harmful effects that vaccines have on our health --is the real message behind the plot.
His concern is accurate and those who have researched and studied the vaccination issue know that his statements are exactly on target. This may be the first time that problems associated with vaccines, including the incestuous relationship between the pharmaceutical industry, government and big money, has been tackled in a fictional arena. Who better to do this than
a NY Times Best Selling author who happens to be a physician?
With the potential of mandatory mass vaccination for smallpox looming on the horizon and the growing vaccine controversies related to autism and other childhood diseases, the story of Ominvax, a 30-in-one vaccine that is to be forcefully injected in all babies and children, is not solely fiction. Neither
are the fears of unknown, long term complications.
Here's a quote from the book by the character (Ellen) that was the consumer advocate on the vaccine approval committee (p.160):
"...My research has shown that not once has a vaccine--any vaccine--been evaluated by a prolonged double blind study. The pharmaceutical houses are powerful, and fund much of the drug research done at our universities and medical centers.
Read more ›
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