DAY 1 8:30 P.M. (EST)
“Madam Speaker, the president of the United States.”
At the words from the sergeant at arms of the House of Representatives, the audience rose to its feet as President James Allaire entered the House Chambers to thunderous applause, mixed with cheers. Allaire glanced at the two Secret Sevice agents stationed opposite each other just inside the entryway, standing as straight and still as the black and gold Ionic columns dividing the wall behind the tribune. Sean O’Neil, head of the presidential Secret Service unit, shadowed Allaire as he glad-handed his way down the long, royal-blue-carpeted corridor.
The president’s heart responded to a rush of adrenaline as the clapping neared the decibel level of a jet engine on takeoff. He stopped every few steps to shake hands or exchange modest embraces with men in dark suits wearing carefully chosen ties, and with impeccably dressed women who smelled of exotic perfume. Ahead of him, he could just see the nine justices of the Supreme Court, and the five members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Allaire sensed O’Neil move a step closer behind him as a congressman from Missouri exuberantly pumped his hand and then shouted, “Go get ’em, Mr. President! You’re going to wow ’em to night!”
That’s right, Allaire thought. I am going to wow them.
There had been many occasions during the beginning of the first term of his presidency when Dr. Jim Allaire privately wondered about a decision he was forced to make. The weight of a single act, benign as it might at first seem, often carried with it surprising ripples and unintended consequences that added to his graying hair and the crow’s-feet at the corners of his gray-blue eyes.
However, delivering the first State of the Union Address of his second term was not one of those moments of self-doubt. He had won reelection by a fairly wide margin over Speaker of the House Ursula Ellis, and now, despite lingering sub rosa enmity between the two of them, it was time to cast aside politics and get some business done.
For the past hour, Allaire had paced inside the office of the minority leader of the House, sipping Diet Pepsi and having makeup reapplied for the cameras, all while trying to contain his nervous energy. The feeling he got before a speech of this magnitude reminded him of his days playing quarterback for the Spartans of Case Western Reserve, where he also earned his M.D. degree.
Between his college football career and years spent working as an internist at the Cleveland Clinic, Allaire had learned the importance of balancing confidence with a respectful fear of failure. Viewed as a man of the people, the genuine caring that had made him a respected physician contributed to his consistently elevated job approval rating as president.
From A HEARTBEAT AWAY by Michael Palmer, copyright © 2011 by the author, and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Press, LLC.
With A Heartbeat Away, New York Times bestselling author and master of medical suspense Michael Palmer delivers a shocker of a thriller whose tense and entirely plausible premise will make you truly afraid.
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 the Capitol building. A ruthless cabal called Genesis has unleashed a deadly, highly contagious virus into the building. And Allaire, an M.D., knows that the only scientist capable of finding a cure is Griffin Rhodes…who is secretly in prison for alleged traitorous acts. When Allaire offers to free him in exchange for his support, Rhodes reluctantly agrees to help the government that imprisoned him without apparent cause.
Meanwhile, every person in line for the presidency is trapped inside the Capitol—all but one: the director of Homeland Security, who is safely at home in Minnesota. With enemies closing in and the security of the nation at stake, Rhodes must unravel the mysteries of the virus without violating his pledge as a scientist to avoid the use of animal testing…and time is running out.
Hardcover Book : 384 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Press, LLC ( February 15, 2011 )
Item #: 13-323118
Product Dimensions: 5.25 x 8.25 x 0.937inches
Product Weight: 15.0 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
As Mary R said, it seemed to take forever to turn the last page, and then only to discover an equally poorly written epilogue! If you took all of the cliches included in every class B mystery known to man, the villains, the heroes, the patsies, Palmer included them in this book. The characters were one dimensional, the action telegraphed worse than a 50 year old pug fighter's swing, and the outcome known long before it happened. The scenario and the research were fantastic to the point of ludicrous This is my first book by Palmer. It will be my last.
Reviewer: Michael W
It took a while for me to get into this book, but once I did, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Full of surprises & action. Afterward, read his other 2 that I had trouble getting into. He ranks right up there with James Patterson & Robin Cook with me.
Reviewer: Barbara D
This takes a while to get started, but I really enjoyed it. Lots of twists. Palmer is one of my favorite writers and he doesn't disappoint here. Good Read.
I enjoyed the book - had some fast surprises and overall a good read!!
I did not enjoy this book. It took forever to finally turn the last page.
Reviewer: Mary R