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Silent Treatment

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In his five bestselling novels, from The Sisterhood to Natural Causes, physician Michael Palmer has drawn on years of firsthand emergency-room experience to create the drama of a frighteningly authentic world—a world where the line between medicine and murder is scalpel-thin. Now, in his most harrowing suspense novel yet, Palmer reveals how the power to heal can become a license to kill....

With his wife, Evie, scheduled for surgery the next day, Dr. Harry Corbett goes to the hospital for what he hopes will be a quiet evening of reconciliation. In recent weeks Evie, never quick to share her feelings, has been more closed and distant than ever. But when Harry reaches Evie's room, it is too late for reconciliation. Shockingly, without warning, Evie is dead. The police suspect homicide. And their only suspect is Dr. Harry Corbett. Harry is not prepared for the stunning revelations that follow: His bright, beautiful, highly ambitious wife was leading a double life; she may have had dangerous secrets. But what secret could have been explosive enough to die for?

Then the killer strikes again, boldly, tauntingly murdering one of Harry's favorite patients in such a way that only Harry knows the death was not natural. This time Harry is certain: The killer, medically sophisticated, coolly arrogant, moving undetected through a busy urban hospital, could only be a doctor. And he wonders—how many more will die? Desperately Harry probes deeper, following the only clue Evie left. What he finds is a sinister pattern that threatens patients in every hospital in the city. Harry is engaged in a life-and-death battle of wits with a chillingly efficient monster. And until the doctor is unmasked, no patient is safe from his lethal silent treatment.

Michael Palmer has done it again, delivering a no-holds-barred novel of medical intrigue—a gripping thriller that features the most terrifying physician since Hannibal Lecter. Silent Treatment will keep your pulse racing from beginning to end.

480 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published March 1, 1995

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About the author

Michael Palmer

64 books149 followers
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. He trained in internal medicine at Boston City and Massachusetts General Hospitals, spent twenty years as a full-time practitioner of internal and emergency medicine, and served as an associate director of the Massachusetts Medical Society’s physician health program. Michael died unexpectedly on Wednesday, October 30, 2013 in New York. He was 71. His 19th novel RESISTANT will be released on May 20, 2014.

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5 stars
1,885 (32%)
4 stars
2,269 (38%)
3 stars
1,440 (24%)
2 stars
202 (3%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 200 reviews
Profile Image for Erin .
1,274 reviews1,197 followers
January 26, 2022
Was this the best book I've ever read?

Was the plot convoluted?

Did I have fun reading it?

Some readers need a thriller to be realistic in order to enjoy it. I dont always need that. Obviously it depends on the book and more importantly it depends on my mood. Silent Treatment caught me on a good week, because I was in the perfect mood for the wild ride that this book took me on.

Silent Treatment reminded me of one of those thriller movies from the 1990's(the book was written in 1995) that Ashley Judd or Sandra Bullock starred in. I loved those movies when I was a kid and after watching them again as an adult I still enjoyed the vibes but they certainly made less sense plot wise.

This book is a Medical Thriller and the author Michael Palmer was a doctor so I have no doubt that the medical stuff is legitimate. This book is about how evil insurance companies are and I think we can all agree that they 100% are. I was rooting for our hero Dr. Harry Corbett the entire time. This book has one of my favorite tropes the Falsely Accused. Falsely Accused stories give me so much anxiety. I was actually on the edge of my seat(bed) The entire time I was reading.

As I said at the beginning of my review this book has a convoluted plot and I kinda stopped caring about if all the plot points fit because I was having fun.

If you like 1990's action thrillers than I think you'll enjoy this book.
Profile Image for Jim C.
1,547 reviews25 followers
July 5, 2014
This novel deals with conspiracy in the field of health insurance. Harry Corbett's wife needs an operation and the night before this operation she is killed. Harry is the suspect and the quest to find out what really happened begins.

This book didn't bore me but it never grabbed my whole interest either. I did like the concept of the book and the idea of how far executives of health insurance companies will go to save money is scary and relevant. I think I was a little turned off by the past history of the conspirators. I think it was just a little too much and this book seemed to fill up with too many clichés. The two main characters are very likable and during the storyline, I was rooting for them to survive.

This novel is a decent read with some actions scenes mixed in and readers who enjoy an old fashioned conspiracy tale will most likely enjoy this novel.
July 23, 2015
Rating: 3.5

This was a pretty fun medical thriller. This has been one of my favorite medical thrillers so far.

I only rated it three stars because the whole innocent person getting framed trope causes me a lot of anxiety. Not in a good way either for me a lot of the time. I don't know why. I've DNFed books for that reason alone. I understand why writers use that trope though.
Profile Image for Marty Fried.
1,021 reviews94 followers
July 7, 2017
My first book by Michael Palmer, but not the last, I'm sure. A real roller-coaster ride, with lots of suspense all the way. It went fast, mainly because I had trouble putting it down.

If you don't like the state of medical care and medical insurance in the US, this book probably won't change your mind. Although it was a bit over the top, it didn't seem completely unbelievable that the insurance company would try to maximize their profits at the expense of a few patients. Hopefully, they don't go this far, but who knows?
Profile Image for Joyce.
1,636 reviews6 followers
May 14, 2014
One thing I love about this author is I don't have to worry about reading them "in order", however, this one could use a sequel. Will Harry and Maura live happily ever after? I suppose after the excitement of this story, nothing they could do would compare.
Harry's wife was having an brain aneurism repaired in the morning. The ward was very full and the person in the next bed was (Maura) going through alcohol withdrawal after head surgery from a drunken fall down the stairs. Harry was visiting after hours and went to get his wife her favorite chocolate malted. In the hour he was gone, someone went in and slipped something into her IV, but the only one who saw him was "the drunk"!
Read any one of Michael Palmer's books and you'd be afraid to ever get sick again!
202 reviews1 follower
June 16, 2008
From the prologue to the epilogue this book kept me in a panic. I felt for each of the characters in a special way. The balance between the stress of being investigating for the murder of one's wife to solving that mystery was perfect. Just when the reader thought that everyone was figured out.....Nope try again. Classic Palmer style. A great read and true page turner.
Profile Image for Claire Noonan.
71 reviews18 followers
July 12, 2013
I resented every minute I had to be away from this book until I finished it. It was suspenseful and compelling. I would have liked a less punchy ending- a bit more of an aftermath would have been nice, to find out a bit more about what happened to some of the characters. One of them- Maura's brother, disappeared from the plot and never returned!
Profile Image for Mike Adamchuk.
975 reviews
January 21, 2020
Dr. Harry Corbett's wife dies unexpectedly - murdered. Other deaths are also occurring in the hospital. As Harry investigates, he finds a high level conspiracy to eliminate certain types of patients. He has to find out the doctor who is doing this and why.
Profile Image for Debby.
931 reviews19 followers
August 4, 2016
If you're a fan of medical thrillers suspense/thrillers, especially those written by authors who are or have been doctors, then you've got to check out Michael Palmer's books. I've been a fan of his for a long time, but hadn't read Silent Treatment. I couldn't put this one down.
Profile Image for Kristi.
60 reviews23 followers
March 19, 2023
My favorite Michael Palmer book thus far!
108 reviews15 followers
July 16, 2022
A very good thriller from the late Dr Michael Palmer. I read Flashback YEARS ago and from what I recall (not a lot heh) I think I liked that one just a bit better than this but both are fun reads. I like Dr. Palmer's writing style and characters--be adds a,sense of humor to both which is nice.
Profile Image for Jeremy Bates.
Author 45 books1,438 followers
February 3, 2012
i really enjoyed this one!
it was my first by michael palmer... im not really into medical thrillers, but the pacing and plotting were great
he's a very talented writer.... he sometimes goes a bit over the top with his medical descriptions, but it doesn't distract from the story too much
highly recommended!
Profile Image for Jill.
778 reviews11 followers
January 13, 2011
Hmmmm...sort of a different plot for Michael Palmer, I rather enjoyed that! Still had the obligatory romance, and bad guy chasing, but definitely kept my interest. I think this would be a good movie.
1 review1 follower
April 17, 2013
Michael Palmer
i don't know about a silent treatment , because i not yet to read this books .
i want to the meaning to indonesian , because i have a homework about it
please help me to finis my homework ...
Profile Image for Dyana.
756 reviews
December 14, 2021
Any book that keeps me up late two nights in a row gets high stars. This one was definitely a page turner! It was a medical thriller/suspense/action-packed/romance. The story was well plotted, intriguing, and gripping and somewhat convoluted. There were several random story lines that didn't seem connected until the end when they are all tied up together - great escapism reading.

One of the story lines begins the book with the extremely evil and methodical villain, Dr. Anton Perchek, who is a master torturer, a.k.a. "The Doctor", injecting Ray Santana with a syringe full of hyconidol hydrochloride. Santana is an undercover DEA agent operating in Mexico and has been betrayed by his partner. Santana begins experiencing pure extreme pain plus more extreme symptoms that will affect him for the rest of his life. Six years later a story line has four people dining at a Chinese restaurant when they all begin experiencing what looks like extreme food poisoning. One dies after a doctor injects something into his IV line.

Another year later, Ex Viet Nam war hero and General Practitioner Dr. Harry Corbett is visiting his wife Evie in the hospital for what he hopes is a little reconciliation time. She has been pulling away from him recently. She is about to have surgery to repair a cerebral aneurysm. He goes out to get her a milkshake; and when he returns, she is dead. The staff thinks her aneurysm ruptured. The person who screams the loudest and calls her death a murder and blames Harry is cardiologist Caspar Sidonis. He says that Harry and Evie were having marital troubles, and Evie was supposed to have told Harry she was leaving him for Sidonis. (She chickened out and hadn't told him yet.) No one else was seen in her room but Harry. The only person who actually saw a technician enter Evie's room is her roommate Maura Hughes. No one believes her, because she is in for a head injury that happened when she fell down some stairs dead drunk and is now experiencing the DTs. Sidonis calls the Medical Examiner and the police. Lieutenant Albert Dickinson immediately pegs Harry as the murderer and makes it his mission to nail him.

Harry is off and running to find the murderer before he is jailed and sentenced. "He had been dropped into the middle of a nightmare and the only way out for him was through it." Then one of Harry's patients dies mysteriously and only Harry realizes it was not natural. While investigating he discovers that Evie was leading a double life with the alias of "Desiree". She was posing as a call girl and writing a book and preparing a tabloid TV report on the power of sex in business and politics. Later Harry is approached by a man named Walter Conception who is a private investigator. His license was pulled and now he does jobs under the table. He wants to help Harry find the murderer but has his own agenda for doing so. Harry and Maura accept his help and can really use his expertise.

Harry is then approached by Kevin Loomis (a.k.a. Sir Tristram) who is 1st Vice President of the Crown Health and Casualty Insurance Company. He belongs to a secret society called the Roundtable. He is having 2nd thoughts about their conspiracy mission. The Roundtable consists of 7 or 8 insurance companies who send a representative to the secret Roundtable meetings. High on their priority list is the termination of policyholders who cost the companies too much money. It also means increased profit for the companies and members of the Roundtable. Guess what assassin they hire to do the terminations? This guy can move through hospitals without being detected, is cool and disciplined, and a complete monster. James Stallings (a.k.a. Sir Gawaine) is also having 2nd thoughts about what is happening and is terminated himself on his way home from meeting with Loomis.

A subplot has Harry worrying about turning 50 in a few days and a "family curse". He is also concerned about chest pains he has been experiencing. Is it stress or something more serious? All the pieces of the puzzle come together before and during the climax. There are plenty of twists and turns and surprises. It was fast paced and well plotted and involved lots of plot maneuvers. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Paul Weiss.
1,250 reviews232 followers
March 26, 2019
Perhaps not the worst he's written, but it's certainly the worst I've read!

When you've written as many novels as Michael Palmer has, it's a logical inevitability that something is the best and something else has to qualify as the weakest! It's a sad day to encounter that candidate for a career worst when you've come to believe that an author's quality is almost inevitably top flight!

When Evie Corbett, a young up-and-comer in the community, dies suddenly and unexpectedly on the eve of a surgery, homicide is suspected and the only suspect within view is her husband, Dr Harry Corbett.

At this point, I'm going to digress a little and take the liberty of quoting myself from my recent review of another Michael Palmer novel, Critical Judgment:

"Uh oh ... I rolled my eyes and sighed, thinking I was wading into that aging medical thriller chestnut of the heroic sole practitioner waging battle against some evil megalomaniacal corporate demon. When Robin Cook first wrote Coma in 1977 almost single-handedly creating the medical thriller genre, this might have been new and exciting fare. But, since then, it's been beaten to death and I was convinced that Critical Judgment was bound to be a derivative dud."

Well, I went on to admit that Critical Judgment successfully beat back that initial negative impression and succeeded in spades.

But, Silent Treatment is another story. This time around, my eyes rolled back and just kept right on going. The plot (which IS of the derivative sole practitioner versus corporate megalomaniacal demon variety) and the criminals (a secret cabal of top level insurance executives seeking to eliminate high cost patients sucking profit off their bottom lines) are all fully revealed within the first few chapters by Palmer himself. The characters are wooden and any suspense that the plot may have generated was eliminated by its early revelation and complete lack of credibility. The major villain of the piece is a completely over-the-top, laughable, cartoonish parody ... a caricatured Dr Mengele, most recently an expert in non-invasive medical torture by the Colombian drug cartel. Now the insurance cartel have hired him as a nomadic serial killer, meandering from hospital to hospital, HMO to HMO, killing off expensive patients that the insurance companies have, with most grievous hindsight, realized they should never have given coverage.

And, before any zealous commenters yell at me, this is NOT a spoiler. Palmer managed that all by himself!

Silent Treatment was published in 1995. It was neither Palmer's first effort nor his most recent so I choose to treat it as an aberration as opposed to any indication that he's jumped the shark or lost his edge. I'll continue to read all of Palmer's novels as a solid fan but I can't recommend that any reader, fan or otherwise, bother with this particular novel.

Paul Weiss

Profile Image for Elusive.
1,218 reviews49 followers
March 9, 2017
In 'Silent Treatment', Dr. Harry's hopes of reconciling with his wife Evie are dashed when her surgery goes horribly wrong thus she dies from a brain haemorrhage. To make things worse, he becomes the prime suspect. However, the killer isn't about to stop. As the body count rapidly increases, Harry embarks on a dangerous quest to unveil the truth only to find that he's up against a formidable foe..

Having read 'Miracle Cure' by Michael Palmer, I was pleasantly surprised by this book as it was a definite step-up. From the beginning, connecting to the main character Harry came naturally thanks to how fleshed out and genuine he was. Despite his profession, he was incredibly worried about his heart health considering his family history. On top of that, he had just lost his wife and found out that she'd been having an affair with a colleague he'd never gotten along with. As if those weren't bad enough, he learned that she had been living somewhat of a seedy double life.

I rooted for Harry throughout the story and when one likes the main character enough to do so, the book tends to be enjoyable as it was in this case. Although he was saddled with a host of problems namely clearing his name of murder, he managed to stay calm, careful and optimistic. That was admirable. I especially liked the part where he teamed up with one particular male character who was undoubtedly stoic and kickass. The budding romance between Harry and Maura could be seen from miles away. Luckily it was never the focus since it was unconvincing and irrelevant to the plot anyway.

The enemies were the members of a group known as The Roundtable. Their motives were solid and believable. The key member - The Doctor was a fascinating character. Besides being a master of disguise, his weapon (toxins) of choice was deadly and creepy. He was cold and cruel as well as shrouded in mystery. He was easily the best character in this book, not because I agreed with his actions and reasons but simply because he was a brilliant villain. I liked the twist regarding the identity of another member. The really packed a punch.

The last third or so of the story veered into an action-driven mode which balanced up the intellectual element. Overall, 'Silent Treatment' was a well-crafted, engaging medical mystery / thriller that seemed shorter than its actual length as it was constantly entertaining.
Profile Image for Kristin.
992 reviews6 followers
September 5, 2019
I enjoy many of Palmer's books, but this one took a little while to get into, and when I did, I found the main plot to be a bit of a stretch. The book opens with Dr. Harry Corbett fighting against the administration of his hospital over the roles primary care physicians play in the care for their patients, but once his wife, Evie, dies immediately prior to a scheduled surgery, that goes on the back burner. Instead, Corbett must focus on proving someone else killed his wife while he was out getting a milkshake, despite a bunch of evidence and statements that appear to implicate him. His lone ally in his efforts is Maura, Evie's roommate that night, an alcoholic in withdrawal with a head injury, who insists she saw a man come into their room with some medicine for Evie, but who was also insisting while Harry was visiting that there were spiders all over the walls. While I liked Maura as a flawed, unreliable witness, and thought she definitely enhanced the plot, the efforts she and Harry had to go to clear his name seemed a bit unrealistic. In fact, my favorite cliffhanger of the entire book was the final one revealed, as I enjoyed ruminating over the cause of Harry's intermittent chest pain.
One weird thing about the book was that the character names of Harry Corbett and Julia Ransome (who is only mentioned a couple times) sounded really familiar, but I couldn't find other books that featured either character. So either some other author used similar names in their work, or I read this book before and have only those two memories of it.
Profile Image for Cam.
35 reviews6 followers
October 19, 2020
En este escalofriante thriller de ambientación médica, una sociedad secreta de médicos de Boston profana cadáveres y efectúa atroces experimentos.
Un joven doctor de excepcionales cualidades se ve envuelto por la turbia drama, y deberá luchar no sólo por la vida de sus pacientes sino por la suya propia. Desde una pesadillesca sala funeraria hasta macabras ceremonias vudú oficiadas en los bajos fondos de Boston, la trama no da respiro hasta la última línea.

Por favor QUÉ LIBRO. A pesar de lo que expresa la contraportada, la historia empieza de una manera completamente diferente, como si fueran pequeñas historias aisladas que luego se conectan con la trama. Este tipo de recurso donde se plantean diversas situaciones que no pensamos que se puedan entrelazar entre sí, fue lo que me atrapó completamente e hizo que no me quiera despegar del libro. Tiene un poco de vocabulario médico pero muy sencillo y nada que no se pueda entender. Hacia el final del libro se da un momento al que denominé de tipo 'Verniano', dado que hay pistas ocultas en un cuaderno escritas en código y los personajes deben resolverlo (lo cual me hace acordar a Viaje Al Centro De La Tierra de Julio Verne).
Un libro fascinante que te atrapa desde el primer momento y no deja lugar a situaciones predecibles, ya que cuando pensé que iba a pasar determinada situación el autor la cambió completamente dejandome muy intrigada y con ganas de saber más.
Profile Image for Shira Shiloah.
Author 2 books34 followers
February 12, 2022
In Silent Treatment, Palmer’s sixth thriller (published in 1995), he eloquently describes a code and the unwillingness of the medical team to give up. This authentic writing any health care worker can attest to––the desire to continue despite the futility of heroic efforts, as well as our inability to process the residual emotions when a patient dies. (the character’s name is omitted as not to reveal a spoiler):

"After half an hour, the battle to control [the patient’s] astronomical blood pressure was finally won. But everyone involved in the case knew that the war had already been lost. Harry stood helplessly by the door as the respiratory technician adjusted the controls on the ventilator that was now [the patient’s] only link to life. There were IVs in both her arms and tubes into her stomach, bladder, and lungs. Every minute or two, in response to nothing in particular, her entire body would tighten and extend into a decerebrate posture. This nightmarish scene was one he had witnessed many times in his professional life and in Nam. But emotionally he had never become very adept at dealing with it.

There was inevitably a part of him unwilling to accept the simple truth that it was over."
Profile Image for Henri Moreaux.
1,001 reviews34 followers
June 13, 2020
Whilst this had a certain air of deja vu having similar plot elements to a Robin Cook book I had read previously (insurance companies killing expensive patients to save money) there was a distinct difference in implementation of these plot elements. In Silent Treatment the story is more about the ramifications of those acts & the people involved in them, than the acts themselves.

Specifically, a friendly doctor, Harry Corbett, has his wife go in for what should be a rather run of the mill neurosurgery operation, only before she even gets to the operating theatre she dies. Blame is thrust upon Harry by a fellow doctor who had been planning to run away with his wife, and as Harry works to clear his name the situation becomes murkier than it initially appeared.

Overall, it was an excellent medical thriller that was thoroughly enjoyable with a climactic ending that wrapped the subplots up nicely. Would recommend for fans of medical thrillers, or thrillers in general.
Profile Image for Sandra.
542 reviews
July 25, 2023
From the unabridged audio cover:

"Evie Corbett wasn't expected today - not the night before she was scheduled for routine surgery, and not in the Manhattan hospital where her husband, Dr. Harry Corbett, is a poplar physician. Stunned and filled with grief, Harry knows his beautiful, healthy wife's death was not natural. A silent killer is moving undetected through the wards, a killer with all the medical sophistication and expertise of doctor.

Desperately, Harry searches his wife's belongings and discovers that Evie, an investigative journalist had been close to exposing a murderons cost-cutting conspiracy among medical insurance companies. Someone is paying to have the costliest patients murdered - and if Harry does not find the killer soon, every patient in the hospital is in danger of receiving the silent treatment."

A fast-moving, but at times disturbing and upsetting thriller. Dr. Palmer is quite a tale-spinner.
257 reviews
August 27, 2023
This was an interesting read, but I had several issues with it.

One, the person who wrote the book synopsis barely scratched the surface of the plot. I went into this book with expectations of this being a cheesy knockoff of The Fugitive. I was pleasantly surprised, but I felt like I started off on the wrong foot.

Two, the bad guy is just too smooth to be a real person. He comes and goes without being noticed and is always two moves ahead. Plus, he has some pretty convenient drugs on hand. I just didn’t buy it.

Three, the climax at the end did get a little Fugitive-like. For a person who has never been in a hospital outside of a maternity ward, I really struggled to picture the whole scene with the turbines and the grate.

The Roundtable was a chilling group, and their mission is something I could honestly see happening to a certain degree.
Profile Image for Kari.
107 reviews
August 10, 2021
I've worked in the healthcare field for several years, so I was looking forward to this. I did not expect how intense some of this story was. It was hard to follow with all the details and double-crossing that happened. There were a LOT of details, but most of that was because I read at night and I've been tired.

Also, reading this at night was not the best idea with some of those scenes with Perchek and how evil and demented he was. My heart was racing!

This made me wonder about what could happen behind the scenes with the insurance industry...sometimes their guidelines make no sense when it comes to taking care of humans!
Profile Image for Herman.
247 reviews3 followers
May 21, 2017
Uitstekende medische thriller over dokter wiens vrouw in het ziekenhuis wordt vermoord en hij verdachte nummer 1 is. De rest van het opwindende boek is hij bezig de ware daders te ontmaskeren. Heeft ook iets te maken met snode plannen van verzekeringsmaatschappijen. Helaas buitengewoon geloofwaardig allemaal en iets wat ook zomaar buiten de VS zou kunnen gebeuren. Gezond wantrouwen tegen verzekeraars blijft op z'n plaats. Voor de rest natuurlijk ook gewoon eersteklas vermaak van deze schrijvende arts.
Profile Image for Judith.
1,051 reviews14 followers
June 14, 2019
A medical thriller that isn't, in a way. The lives of several people are taken in a mysterious way. The methods cause suspicion to land on Dr. Harry Corbett. To save himself, Corbett must track down the killer himself.

The medical part is that it takes a doctor or otherwise medically trained person to commit these murders. But there isn't any mysterious disease or unusual treatment involved. It is simply an evil person using his medical knowledge. There is a backstory here about the evil person and one of his victims, which complicates the story, adds interest.

Good airplane reading.
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