Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Heartbeat Away” as Want to Read:
A Heartbeat Away
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Heartbeat Away

3.79  ·  Rating Details ·  2,821 Ratings  ·  286 Reviews
The New York Times bestselling author and master of suspense delivers another novel at the crossroads of politics and medicine in this shocker of a thriller

On the night of the State of the Union address, PresidentJames Allaireexpects to give the speech of his career. But no one anticipates the terrifying turn of events that forces him to quarantine everyone in the Capit
ebook, 416 pages
Published February 15th 2011 by St. Martin's Press
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about A Heartbeat Away, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about A Heartbeat Away

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Mal Warwick
I’ll start with a confession: I literally had trouble putting this book down once I started reading it. If I’d had any experience with drugs other than a brief, youthful affair with marijuana, I might say that reading A Heartbeat Away was like a drug rush. However, I’m chagrined to note that, other than in the intoxicating suspense that builds throughout the novel, it’s really not all that good. A competent piece of work by an author of nearly two dozen similar books, but just not great.

So, here
Mar 21, 2011 Rob rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I love the old Michael Palmer, like back in the day Palmer. Unfortunately, in A Heartbeat Away , Palmer has lost his groove.

Recently, I went and watched I am Number Four . I had not seen a trailer; all I knew was the premise, which sounded fascinating. Going in expecting great things, I was so disappointed to essentially be watching Twilight 8. Teenyboppers and aliens as far as the eye can see.

A Heartbeat Away was like that. The premise is amazing. A virus is released by terrorists during t
Apr 02, 2011 Jerry rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
We're big Palmer fans, having read his every novel. We usually totally enjoy his medical thrillers, but find a disturbing trend in his two recent books. It seems the author, almost shades of Robin Cook, has run out of stories with a plausible medical plot and somehow feels compelled to branch out into the political arena ala David Baldacci. Our biggest gripe with "Heartbeat", the title itself almost a spoiler, is that it is entirely implausible -- not merely the initial shocking development at t ...more
A Heartbeat Away was one of Palmer's weaker contributions to the genre; I couldn't help but wonder if he threw the last third together to meet a looming deadline. While the premise of the story was fascinating, the execution left much to be desired. I found wicked-witch-of-the-west Ursula Ellis unbelievably cardboard, and both her actions and rationale completely implausible. Griff's computer simulations of virus mutation were absolute science fiction, and his soapbox opposition to animal testin ...more
Oct 17, 2011 Kristen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you love medical thrillers and political thrillers, this is the book for you. When a terrorist group called Genesis unleashes a rapid virus known as WRX3883 in the White House, it causes panic and pandemonium. Everyone panics where there's law and disorder. It's up to the President, James Allaire, to do what he had to do to prevent exposure from spreading outside the White House. He calls Griffin Rhodes, a scientist who's been wrongfully convicted of a crime he didn't commit, for his help on ...more
Sep 14, 2014 Keith rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this age of jet travel, cultural cross-pollination and terror about the prospect of a worldwide pandemic, there are a many novels out there about mankind meeting its demise thanks to a tiny viral predator. This one ties that fear in with a group that many feel deserve to cope with a problem that requires resolution, rather than the continuing ennui for which it has become so well known. During a State of the Union address a terrorist group manages to release an experimental virus developed by ...more
Apr 24, 2016 Kelly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, from-my-tbr
Finally finished a book! This new long-term substitute job is killing my reading for pleasure time!
Paul Pessolano
Feb 16, 2011 Paul Pessolano rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Michael Palmer is the author of 15 previous books but "A Heartbeat Away" may very well be the best yet.

United States President James Aillaire, serving his second term, is scheduled to give a State of the Union address. Congress is assembled with the usual invitees, Supreme Court Justices, Joint Chiefs of Staff, etc...

In this group is all but one of those that are in line for the Presidential Order of Succession. One member is always not present in case of a catastrophe. The member not present is
Apr 19, 2011 Denise rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed again..., April 19, 2011

This review is from: A Heartbeat Away (Audio CD)
I have read all of Michael Palmer's books -- some better than others. This was an "other" and a disappointment to me. This was not so much a medical thriller as it was a chance for the author to get on his soap box about ethical and political issues such as the use of animals for drug and disease testing, the efficacy of homeland security, and the government's approach to terrorism -- to name
Jul 21, 2012 Dale rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A political thriller for people that don't know much about politics

Read by Robert Petkoff
11 hours, 42 minutes.

The premise behind A Heartbeat Away is simple and brilliant: What if terrorists released a biological weapon into the House chamber during the President's State of the Union Address - the one time when just about everybody who is anybody in the Federal government is all in one room together?

The follow through, however, is not so hot.

Palmer's characterization of how a President would d
Two Bibliomaniacs
Make sure to block out a good portion of your day before starting this one, otherwise you’ll feel guilty about locking yourself in the bathroom to finish. A Heartbeat Away was our first glimpse into the world of Michael Palmer and we’ll admit – we were pleasantly surprised.

Historically, State of the Union addresses are filled with declarations of progress and frustrations at having to battle misguided policies endorsed by the other party. Few involved would ever expect the release of a lethal v
Sarah Glenn
As Michael Palmer’s books rise in popularity, he raises the stakes higher and higher. His earlier books focused on doctors running afoul of conspiracies in their local hospital; now, his writing eye is fixed on terrorism and government conspiracies - with a medical twist, of course.

In A Heartbeat Away, the first physician we meet is the President of the United States. James Allaire is preparing to give the first State of the Union address of his second term. Among the issues he plans to focus on
Suspense Magazine
Always exhilarating, Palmer ratchets the tension to a breathtaking level with the release of “A Heartbeat Away”. Stunning in its realism and truly terrifying, Palmer keeps a frantic, anxiety-driven pace, giving his fans a ringside seat as the nightmare unfolds.

As President James Allaire begins his second State of the Union address, he’s prepared to captivate the public with his charm, but doesn’t get the opportunity. Within moments of launching his message, puffs of vapor begin pouring out of s
Jan 12, 2012 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Robin Cook fans who can do better
Recommended to Mike by: Public Library
Shelves: audio, favorites
this was very exciting. i truly loved the very idea of a deadly virus running rapid through the white house.

this was my first and certainly not my last Palmer novel. This one was a pretty fast ready and that Fast was equated not only by length but by pacing!

this one started and truly did not stop. i listened to this omw to work and at home sometimes. typically with audiobooks i do other things but there were tense moments of complete inactivity and absorption.

i'm negating one star in my opinio
Jan 07, 2011 Debi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: medical-thriller
Four words, people:

Buckle your seatbelts for another fast-paced medical thriller by Michael Palmer. This book showed me again why he is one of my favorite authors. A terrorist group has made some attacks and the White House is on high alert for the State of the Union address shortly after the President has been re-elected. During the address, a virus is released in the chamber, causing the President to seal off the room and call for extreme measures to keep a pandemic from spreadin
Mar 12, 2012 Julie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well developed, fast paced, enough turns to get you dizzy, and thought provoking enough to have you Google the Line of Succession to the Presidency. If you send the Director of Agriculture off to be safe that night (night of Inauguration or State of the Union) then you will end up with a leader with more concerns towards agriculture or environment. You send the director of Homeland Security and you will end up with a very different presidency. Something to think about. Maybe the Vice President s ...more
Jacob Peled
Jul 23, 2016 Jacob Peled rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Terror
I was always a fan of Michael Palmer medical thrillers. This book , unlike his previous, is actually a biological terror book, which falls into a different genre. Nevertheless it is the same Michael Palmer, writing books you can’t let out of your hand till you finish them.
For me it us defiantly a 5 star book.
Feb 14, 2011 Jill rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This suspense novel posits a domestic terror group calling itself Genesis that has been wreaking havoc on the country in small increments. Now it ups the ante by an attack in the U.S. Capitol building during President Jim Allaire’s second State of the Union Address. A lethal virus spray is released in The Chamber of the House of Representatives which, for this event, is host to 700 of most of the power brokers in the country.

This book is definitely a “thriller” and I enjoyed the author’s writin
Apr 05, 2012 Cindy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This seemed like a good plot premise, but it was so poorly written that I put it down halfway. The characters are unbelievably flat and undeveloped, so you don't care a fig about what happens to them; the overly detailed description of the secret lab is tearfully boring; the plot barely moves forward at a snail's pace. I'm not sure how anyone can see this as a page-turner. I didn't even care enough to finish it to find out if an antidote to the virus was found.

This book is going in the Goodwill
Oct 04, 2014 Mayda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thrillers
If you could cross a maze with a scary funhouse, you would have an idea of what reading this book was like. Lots of plot twists and turns. Dead ends where you least expect them. Imminent danger at any time. The novel definitely lacks details when it comes to some of the character development. In like manner, the plot also at times is contrived and clearly manipulated. And yet, the book is a compelling read – and once you become involved in the story, these shortcomings seem less important. The s ...more

This is my first Michael Palmer read, so the medical thriller aspect was new but not altogether boring. The gravity of the crisis kept things from getting ho hum and I liked Palmer's conspiracy as well as the star crossed lovers in the novel. So far as keeping the mystery and the action going, it's a good read that will keep you up reading, but not too late. Definitely worth the price of admission.


The Genesis Conspiracy. During the
Steve Auerweck
It was way too hard to suspend disbelief and accept the implausible events and characters in this political/medical thriller. The premise -- most of the country's leaders quarantined in the Capitol after a disease exposure -- is a great one. But over and over again, the responses to the situation are illogical and the bad guys display a cartoonlike, Snidely Whiplash kind of evil. After about a third of the book I started speed-reading just to see where it would end up. My first Palmer, and maybe ...more
Feb 13, 2014 Cindy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like Michael Crichton, Michael Palmer always delivers some scientific thriller that keeps you reading. With A Heartbeat Away, Palmer takes us to the Capitol as the President attempts to deliver a State of the Union address only to be interrupted by a biological terrorist attack. With this superflu poised to kill Congress, the President, and the line of succession, the president is desperate to contain the illness, keep a lid on the panic, and entail the help of virologists to find the cure. As c ...more
Christin Edge
Jul 30, 2016 Christin Edge rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Five stars for this page-turning medical/political thriller about a bioterrorism attack at the Capitol during the State of the Union address. This book immediately grasps the reader and is fast-paced in a race to find a cure before the congress, cabinet, and presidential successors are eliminated. This book definitely tapped into my scientific side!
Apr 09, 2014 Jeanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This story actually made me nervous listening on audio CD because the story was so believable I could actually see something like this happening. Some authors have a true talent for building out a story and Michael Palmer does just that. Great story, great characters, and for me the most important part of a great story--a great ending! 8 out of 10 for me.
Mar 22, 2011 Theresa rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I could not get into this book. I've read everything else by this author and even put up with his ranting about HMO's - but this wasn't my cup of tea. It sounds good in theory but all the characters were unlikeable. I got about 1/4 of the way thru and decided to give up.
Mar 10, 2011 Jill rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I thought this book was just okay. It wasn't as bad as some critics have said. But at the same time its one where I wouldn't rush to get it. The plotline was a little unrealistic.
Apr 23, 2011 Hallie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Michael Palmer anchors his thrillers in high concept and steeps them in medicine. "A Heartbeat Away" opens with a prologue, and from the opening line ("The last thing Eddie Gostowski was thinking about...was that he was going to die."), the reader know things are not going to go well for the security guard at a New York power distribution center. He's no match for a towering armed intruder, a foot soldier for Genesis, a terrorist group about to fire its first salvo by causing a massive power out ...more
Apr 24, 2011 Lori rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my second novel by Michael Palmer and he continues to impress me. Palmer takes his medical thriller genre, throws some politics in and what emerges is a book that is nearly impossible to put down. The storyline of A Heartbeat Away is simply stellar, beginning with a terrorist group and the night of the State of the Union address when a lethal virus is released in the Capitol building, putting everyone at risk - - including the President. The lives of all involved, if not the entire count ...more
Linda B
Jan 30, 2011 Linda B rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most talented authors in the medical thriller genre has done it again! I don’t think I have ever read a bad Michael Palmer book and this one did not disappoint me at all.

The story opens on the night of the State of the Union address. In a split second the president has to make life and death decisions when terrorists release a highly contagious and deadly virus. The president must rely on virologist, Griff Rhodes, a man he sent to prison as a terrorist, to reopen his lab and work on a
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Mutant (Dr. Richard Steele, #1)
  • Cure (Jack Stapleton & Laurie Montgomery, #10)
  • Blood Lies
  • Capitol Murder (Dana Cutler, #3)
  • Agent X (Steve Vail, #2)
  • Trader Of Secrets (Paul Madriani, #12)
  • The Lazarus Strain (Dr Steven Dunbar, #6)
  • Marine One
  • Buried Secrets (Nick Heller, #2)
  • Damage (Abe Glitsky, #3)
  • Little Saigon
  • Afraid Of The Dark (Jack Swyteck, #9)
  • Deadly Exposure (Joanna Blalock #5)
  • Heaven Is High (Barbara Holloway #12)
Michael Palmer, M.D., 1942-2013, was the author of Political Suicide, Oath of Office, A Heartbeat Away, The Last Surgeon, The Second Opinion, The First Patient, The Fifth Vial, The Society, Fatal, The Patient, Miracle Cure, Critical Judgment, Silent Treatment, Natural Causes, Extreme Measures, Flashback, Side Effects, and The Sisterhood. His books have been translated into thirty-five languages.

More about Michael Palmer...

Share This Book

“a heavy, hooded wool” 0 likes
“samples, which he then input” 0 likes
More quotes…