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Book Author: Daniel Palmer

THE FIRST FAMILY by Daniel Palmer: Book Review

Imagine Susie Banks.  She’s a teenage violinist on the stage of the Kennedy Center, about to perform a solo with the National Symphony Orchestra.  She is halfway through her performance, playing perfectly as usual, when suddenly her body goes into spasms.  Her arms and legs are gesturing uncontrollably, and her instrument falls to the floor.  Several frightening moments pass, and through her tears she picks up the violin and makes her way to the wings.

In another part of Washington, Dr. Lee Blackwood is visiting a patient at MediCenter of D. C.  As he is making his rounds, a Secret Service agent comes into the room and tells Lee to follow him.  Lee’s former wife Karen is an agent, and she has asked the first lady, Ellen Hilliard, to bring Lee to the White House for a consult.

Ellen is concerned about her son Cam.  Cam has become withdrawn and moody, his complexion is ashen, he has huge circles under his eyes, and he is sweating inappropriately.  These emotional and physical symptoms are affecting his life to the point where his parents and the White House physician, Fred Gleason, fear he is depressed.  Most importantly, as far as Cam is concerned, his ability to play chess at the international level is being compromised, just in time for a major tournament he has hopes of winning.

Gleason thinks Cam should see a psychiatrist, but the teenager is insistent that his problem is physical, not mental.  Cam tells Lee that he’s not sleeping well, is tired all the time, and that his vision is sometimes blurred.  Lee agrees with Cam that the symptoms seem more physical than emotional, but the parents are conflicted about which physician to trust.

Polite battle lines are drawn between the two doctors, with nothing being decided.  Several days later, when Cam is playing a game of touch football with friends, he’s knocked out.  The White House doctor doesn’t think it’s anything more than bruising, but Karen is concerned enough to ask Lee for a diagnosis over the phone.  Hearing the concern in his ex-wife’s voice, Lee suggests bringing the boy to the MediCenter at once, which Karen does after consulting the first lady rather than Dr. Gleason.

In the meantime, Susie Banks has also been admitted to the MDC.  In what appears to the police to be a horrific accident, a faulty furnace allowed carbon monoxide into the Banks’ house, killing her parents and bringing Susie close to dying.  And now, the bizarre symptoms she had experienced at the Kennedy Center will have Lee trying to make a connection between her and Cam.

Right from the beginning Lee Blackwood’s skills are called into question by Fred Gleason.  Is it the simple jealousy of one doctor to another, or is his behavior in objecting to Lee’s every suggestion covering something more sinister?  And does the TPI, the True Potential Institute, an after-school program for the very best and the brightest that both Susie and Cam attend, have any part in this?

Daniel Palmer has written what truly is a page-turner.  You will be caught in the action from the beginning as Lee and Karen try to figure out what is bringing  these two formerly healthy teenagers to the point of death.

You can read more about Daniel Palmer at this website.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her website.  In addition to book review posts, there are sections featuring Golden Oldies, Past Masters and Mistresses, and an About Marilyn column that features her opinions about everything to do with mystery novels.






STOLEN by Daniel Palmer: Book Review

Daniel Palmer’s latest novel, Stolen, opens with a terrifying premise.  Imagine getting the news that a loved one has been diagnosed with a rare type of cancer.  You are devastated, distraught, but you cling to the hope that the drug the doctor has prescribed will cure the disease.

Then you find out that your insurance company will not pay for the brand-name version of this drug; they will only pay for the generic drug.  You explain to the insurance agent that the doctor has told you that the generic drug is not available so that your loved one must take the brand-name one.  Sorry, says the agent, we won’t pay for that.  And the cost of the brand-name drug over the course of treatment will be three hundred thousand dollars.

This is the situation facing John and Ruby Bodine.  Verbilifide is the drug recommended to combat Ruby’s illness, and when John discovers that another insurance company would cover Verbilifide he devises a plan to get that drug.  He’s going to hack into that company’s files and take over the identity of one of its clients.  Then he’ll submit the appropriate forms as that client so that Ruby will get the necessary medication.

John has created a computer game called OneWorld.  He doesn’t charge people to play and makes his money by selling them virtual items that appear online.  While waiting for OneWorld to become a huge success, the couple is paying for Ruby’s schooling plus the usual expenses of housing, food, car insurance.  There’s barely enough money for that; money for Verbilifide simply isn’t there.

Using his computer skills, John creates a new life for himself and Ruby–new names, new apartment, new credit cards.  Ruby doesn’t like this plan, knows it’s dishonest, but as her illness starts taking over she doesn’t have the strength to fight for her point of view.  A few weeks pass, Verbilifide is working, and John and Ruby are now Elliot and Tanya Uretsky, submitting claims to “their” insurer, UniSol.

And then their phone rings.  Who could be calling them at their new, unlisted number; only UniSol has it.  When John picks up the phone, at first there doesn’t appear to be anyone at the other end.  But then a raspy voice begins to talk.  “My name is Elliot Uretsky, and I believe you stole my identity.”

We’ve all heard or read about identity theft.  Perhaps we know someone who was the victim of it, perhaps it even happened to you.  It’s a scary feeling, realizing that someone has tapped into your life, usually for the purpose of taking your money.  Although that isn’t John’s reason for “becoming” Elliot Uretsky, and his reason is a much more benign and understandable one, the reader recognizes that a crime has been committed here.  But when the “real” Elliot Uretsky appears on the scene, one’s sympathies shift entirely in John’s favor.  Mr. Uretsky is not a nice man.

Daniel Palmer has written a true page-turner, a thriller I promise you won’t be able to put down.  You can read more about him at this web site.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Reads blog at her web site.