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A Heartbeat Away

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  3,681 ratings  ·  347 reviews
On the night of the State of the Union address, President James Allaire expects to give the speech of his career. But no one anticipates the terrifying turn of events that forces him to quarantine everyone in the Capitol building. A terrorist group calling itself “Genesis” has unleashed WRX3883, a deadly, highly contagious virus, into the building. No one fully knows the d ...more
Hardcover, First Edition, 404 pages
Published February 15th 2011 by St. Martin's Press
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Ginger Griff is an animal advocate. And he regrets not being able to relate to his sister’s dog. Maybe this is his second chance.

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Average rating 3.82  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,681 ratings  ·  347 reviews

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Mar 17, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Mal Warwick
Feb 27, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Jerry B
Feb 20, 2011 rated it did not like it
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
Sep 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Erica Clou
Fun at the beginning but drags in the middle so so much. In the end it's kind of fun again. At the very end, it was so stressful because some days it feels like "the conservatives" might do something like throw out a cure if the cure somehow limited capitalism the least little bit, or cost some huge company a few dollars. I am jaded. ...more
Feb 14, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Henri Moreaux
This novel manages to cover my four favourite topics - medical, viral/disease, terrorism and mystery. It's all about a terrorist group that attempts to subvert American democracy by releasing a bioterror agent during the president's state of the union address. Naturally there's also a subplot involving a power hungry political animal who is willing to put there own desires above everyone else's whilst trying to dress it up under the guise of them doing 'the right thing' to 'save' people. There's ...more
Sheila Myers
Mar 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
Good characters and a plot with enough twists and turns to keep things interesting.
Aug 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
Simplistic plot, but a fun, quick read.
Sarah Glenn
Jan 11, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Jul 21, 2012 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
Mar 30, 2011 rated it liked it
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
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
Suspense Magazine
May 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Paul Pessolano
Feb 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 14, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Jan 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Steve Auerweck
Aug 20, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Apr 05, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
Nov 15, 2013 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.
Christin Edge
Apr 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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!
Jacob Peled
Jul 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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.
Mar 22, 2011 rated it did not like it
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. ...more
Mar 07, 2011 rated it it was ok
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. ...more
Feb 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
A good story with well thought plots. 8 of 10 stars
It’s that one winter night in Washington when the glitterati come together like vultures over a carcass to listen to soaring rhetoric, then, depending on the side taken by members of that glitterati, either applaud like trained monkeys or immediately predict the horrific outcome of programs proposed. I’m talking, of course, about the tradition-rich state of the union address, which is constitutionally mandated (Article II Section 3) and delivered annually these days.

And so they have gathered-th
Nan Bridgers
Author: MICHAEL PALMER/2011/eAudiobook (OverDrive/Lexington County Library) Narrated by Robert Petkoff.
Reviews ...
2 out of 5 stars
By William R. on 05-27-11
Far too many holes and a bad love story.
Robert Petkoff reads the book quite well, which I enjoyed. He was able to provide some very distinct voices for each character that did not feel forced or too heavy-handed. The book itself is a fantastic idea that I loved at first but the more this book goes on the more giant - gaping - holes in the ove
Peggy A. Miller
May 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Get this book! You won't be able to put it down!

Intense, suspenseful book that I had trouble putting down. Excellently written. Unpredictable, yet has some characters you can cheer and others loathe because of the well drawn out character descriptions.

I loved this book. It was interesting and intriguing. This book could actually be true, the way the world is now. It was very good and hard to put down. The suspense was wonderful!!

Good guys and bad guys abound in a story surrounded by a group hell
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