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Side Effects

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Kate Bennet. A bright hospital pathologist with a loving husband and a solid future. Until one day her world turns dark. A strange, puzzling illness has killed two women. Now it endangers Kate's closest friend. Soon it will threaten Kate's marriage. Her sanity. Her life. Kate has uncovered a horrifying secret. Important people will stop at nothing to protect it. It is a terrifying medical discovery. And its roots lie in one of the greatest evils in the history of humankind.

368 pages, Paperback

First published May 1, 1986

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About the author

Michael Palmer

61 books122 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
669 (28%)
4 stars
921 (39%)
3 stars
632 (27%)
2 stars
81 (3%)
1 star
22 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 105 reviews
Profile Image for Erth.
3,425 reviews
November 3, 2018
While admittedly I am a suspense/thriller freak, I must confess that out of over 30 different writers of this literary genre, I certainly grade Plamer’s style, tope, unique and most interesting. While each story starts with a short ‘background’ prologue which becomes clear only quite late into the novel, each story is completely different without any resemblance or repetition to others by Palmer, a practice too common by most writers of this genre.
A doctor himself by background, all Palmer’s stories surround medical persons in a major eastern city in the US. But this concludes all resemblance among Palmer’s medical suspense/thrillers. While he frequently uses medical terminology, they are used quite lightly and are always followed with layman’s explanation. The mega-pharmaceutical company or super HMO company as well as their collaborators are often the villains, while a dedicated true-heart physician is the hero.
In Side Effects, the hero is a dedicated pathologist and the villain is an old nazi biochemist, that escaped to the US and formulated the ultimate contraceptive. Another villain is the owner of a large drug company that wishes to acquire the monstrous drug.
Profile Image for Jerry B.
1,382 reviews118 followers
July 23, 2010
Medical Chiller with great plot and characters!

We thought Michael Palmer's medical thriller "The Sisterhood" was quite good, especially for a first novel; this one, his second outing, just might be great! An interesting prologue from Nazi Germany sets the stage for a story about illegal (and of course, unethical) testing of unapproved drugs on unaware human subjects. Incredible suspense and tension are generated through a number of faceted story lines:

- Leading lady Dr. Kate Bennett, a hospital pathologist, fights the establishment at every turn to uncover the truth;

- The wealthy patrician father of Kate's husband is ready to interfere in their lives and marriage at every turn for the political gain of his son;

- Women are dieing of uncontrolled bleeding with mysterious uterine problems almost new to medicine found in the autopsies;

- A greedy drug firm is in cahoots with a women's medical center to dispense secret drug tests;

- Unscrupulous hospital management is ready to lie, cheat, and murder to perpetuate the conspiracy.

A gripping story and complex plot is one thing, but Palmer's descriptive writing style and careful revealing of characters and situations really fleshes out this very believable tale. For once, the words "terrifying" and "vivid" on the paperback cover seem justified. We enjoyed this as one of our best reads of the summer -- highly recommend!

Profile Image for PennsyLady (Bev).
1,039 reviews
March 3, 2018
Side Effects
by Michael Palmer

Published January 1st 1995 by Bantam (first published January 1st 1985)
medical thriller

Considering the publication dates, this novel seemed very
contemporary to me.
The basic elements developed in the story are timeless.
By that I mean power, greed, manipulation and so forth.

A web of deceit is woven around Kate Bennett and it effectively jeopardized her sanity, her personal life and her profession as a hospital pathologist.
1 review1 follower
Currently reading
May 16, 2012
So far, if this book was not due for an anatomy project, I would have been reading it more intently. But when i do open the pages, it amazes me how intricate Michael Palmer gets with the medical terms as well as the family aspect of the book with the main character and her husband.
Profile Image for Jan.
801 reviews26 followers
September 17, 2020
This was my first medical thriller by Michael Palmer, but it won't be my last. It was quite the wild, and at times terrifying ride that had me in the edge of my seat, madly turning pages because I just had to know RIGHT NOW if things were going to turn out okay. I was hoping against hope that they would. This author really knows how to ramp up the tension and suspense. I enjoyed the character of Dr. Kate Bennett, and loved how tenacious she was. She reminded me a bit of myself. Like her, I can be just as tenacious if something seems off or doesn't make sense, or maybe is a bit hinky. I will dig and dig, do research, and follow a trail until I find the answer I'm looking for, or fix the problem. It didn't exactly make me any friends when I was a medical claims adjuster and constantly found errors in previously processed claims whenever I opened up an insurer's file to process a new claim. I understood completely how Dr. Bennett wouldn't give up until she found the truth, even when so many were against her.
Profile Image for Paul Weiss.
1,204 reviews144 followers
January 3, 2019
Brilliant doctor faces off against big mean pharmaceutical machine!

Dr Kate Bennett's future looks very bright indeed. She's a talented pathologist at the Metropolitan Hospital of Boston and is the likely successor to the chief of the department. Her loving husband is a political star and stands a strong chance of winning a seat in the US Congress. But as she investigates the untimely death of two women and faces the possible death of her best friend from an undiagnosed bleeding disorder, she finds herself facing the power of a giant multi-national pharmaceutical company. Her husband's political hopes for Congress begin to disintegrate as Bennett's actions label her as a loose cannon maverick with possible mental instabilities.

From the time that Robin Cook's Coma exploded into the literary world, I have loved medical thrillers. But, as the genre matures and ages, there are some plots that have been positively beaten to death. This is one of them - heroic brilliant doctor juggles a personal life with professional life and squares off against the big mean multi-national pharmaceutical company whose CEO thinks only of wealth, personal gain or perhaps even more (in this case, think international power that may well extend into political arenas)! It's well enough written to ensure that any reader will finish the book but at the halfway point my eyelids were drooping and my eyes were rolling at the lack of originality in the entire story.

The climax and the epilogue, on the other hand, were an entirely different kettle of fish! Michael Palmer's story of the evolution of Kate Bennett's marriage and the growth of her and her husband, Jared Samuels, as loving supportive team-mates in a most difficult partnership was heartwarming, uplifting, gripping, exciting and most pleasing - indeed, quite capable of producing that proverbial lump in the throat. The epilogue, instead of winding the plot up, actually hangs it up with a tantalizing note of incompleteness that is probably realistically representative of the true state of the world in which we live.

But, too little too late could only convert a two-star yawner into a three star enjoyable representative of the medical thriller genre that won't have much staying power in the memory. If you enjoy Michael Palmer, by all means read it for completeness. Recommended but only just barely.

Paul Weiss

Profile Image for Ali Mark.
476 reviews1 follower
November 7, 2022
Gut Instinct Rating: 5
Characters: 4.25
Believability: 5
Uniqueness: 5
Writing Style: 5
Excitement Factor: 5
Story Line: 4
Title Relevance: 5
Artwork Relevance: 5
Audiobook Narration: 4.25
Overall: 4.75🏳️‍🌈

Review: I will say this was another great Michael Palmer read, but maybe I zoned out a bit because I still don’t understand how the prologue had anything to do with the story. Palmer seems to always have a prologue that is a precursor to some known fact, connection, or stepping stone for the entirety of the story, but I just didn’t see it in this one. I will say that I loved how he continuously went back to a secondary character as a means to propel the story forward without making it less political and medical in nature. Michael Palmer has an ease, it seems, with writing these stories and I’m excited for whatever one falls in my lap next.
Profile Image for Pamela Tracy.
Author 40 books53 followers
November 26, 2017
Very interesting... I had to remind myself of the publishing date. Very suspenseful the ties to Germany and today (the today of the book).

I didn't identify with the lead character. She was a bit too hard, to driven.

That being said, there was a lot to be fascinated with and I liked that not only did she wind up with a very real, personal reason to care about the outcome, I liked how someone she knew was at risk, too.

The husband redeemed himself at the end, but needed to clash with his father sooner.

I didn't like how the husband connected with the ex-wife at the end, so quickly, and we don't know why her whereabouts were kept secret and why the father was in contact. I felt cheated.
Profile Image for wally.
2,374 reviews
July 8, 2022
finished today 8th july 2022 good read three stars i liked it kindle library loaner first from palmer and a spoiler of sorts did not like the ending but mayhap the ending is in keeping with the trend of "frontier justice" i've noticed in much of what i read, a fashionable wave t'would seem and the closure of this one i will hazard to suggest argues for more of that wave, or a reason for the wave. and now for the weather. wally? hasn't been a "hotter than normal summer" here, 50s in the mornings another said we're to have 40s one of these mornings. so...let's all predict what the weather will bring ten years hence. fineas j whoopie! you're the greatest!
485 reviews2 followers
February 27, 2018
Another page turner. The drug industry is not as bad as described here, but they do take advantage of the laws they helped write. I try not to take any new medication on the market. My physician great uncle told me that was his rule in his practice. (Only drug and needed to save a life? That was his exception.)
I am not a physician, but I still follow it as a patient.

The books should only be read by people with phenomenal self control or people who have plenty of spare time, They are very hard to put down until after the last page.
December 31, 2022
An excellent all-night read

I honestly couldn't put this book down. Initially it was slow and I wondered if I had chosen the wrong book. However, about three-quarters through the book, the first chapter made perfect sense. I loved the book and literally couldn't put it down. I look forward to reading more of this author's books. Medical mystery is my favorite genre and this book did not disappoint
Profile Image for John Heise.
53 reviews1 follower
December 2, 2017
Besides the large amount of complex terms, at least for a non-medical professional, this book, while engaging, had too many characters to keep track of. I found it a bit difficult to keep track of some of them and I found myself looking back over portions of the book I had already read to refresh my memory of who they were. Good story line but somewhat hard to follow.
November 1, 2018
As with all the other Michael Palmer books I have read, i was thoroughly engrossed reading this book. The subject matter is current and also a little scary. The pharmaceutical business is in the news a lot and I can only pray this doesn’t happen in real life, but I imagine it has a lot of truth to it. You can’t go wrong reading anything this author wrote.
November 9, 2018
Another medical thriller by Michael Palmer, one that is hard to put down. There are many plot twists that change the nature of characters, good guys become bad guys. The characters are full and well developed making a connection that keeps you interested. A very good read, not a dull moment throughout.
578 reviews2 followers
January 9, 2019
This would make a good movie or TV mini series, I think! The bad guys almost all pay the ultimate price, even though the good guys don't win their lawsuit in the end. I was intrigued by the way that the book started out in Nazi Germany. Of course, it does become clear in the end why that historical context was in the story.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Robin.
320 reviews22 followers
August 11, 2021
Mid Michael Palmer - good set up but the suspense isn't quite as tight as it is in some of his other books, though the romantic relationship is pretty interesting. There's the typical doc that no one believes, in this case, pathologist Kate Bennett, who, despite a campaign of intimidation and destruction by big bad pharma manages to prevail. All in all a solid read.
Profile Image for Hollie.
299 reviews
April 27, 2018
Not my favorite Palmer book

I really loved the plot of this book. It had me hooked almost immediately. However, I didn't love the main character. It was hard to even like her. Overall great book.
103 reviews
February 13, 2019
Michael Palmer writes with excitement ! His books are all about medical “side effects” but this one made me realize you could make a very good movie out of all his books that would be suspenseful & exciting with the right actors/actresses ! 5th book checked off ! On to the next !
Profile Image for Sandi.
539 reviews12 followers
July 14, 2019
This novel and one other are the only Palmer novel's I have't read. I'm so glad I went back to finish reading all books by this author. He is one of a very few author's which I wish I could have meet in person.
November 26, 2021

The complicated prologue wasn't necessary, neither were a lot of the pages, but the last third of the book fairly tense with a great ending. Leaves it open for the author to....
116 reviews1 follower
January 6, 2023
So exciting it kept me reading through the night

Well-drawn characters, tight plotting, this medical thriller has it all, along with an awareness of how corporations sometimes can sometimes work.
1,268 reviews2 followers
May 16, 2018
Another goody from Michael Palmer....couldn't hardly put it down!!!
Profile Image for Susan.
73 reviews
August 2, 2018
Page Turner

Even if it was written in the 1980’s...it was riveting..just couldn’t put it down. Love all of Palmer’s books and look forward to more.
188 reviews
November 3, 2018

Whoa! What a rollercoaster ride! This was definitely a worthwhile read. It was a little creepy in subject matter - a little too possible, but we'll done!
Profile Image for Linda Hughes.
170 reviews
December 1, 2018
Ok, didn't grab me as much as I expected it to. Oh well, not every book is going to appeal to every person.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 105 reviews

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