Political, legal, military and medical mayhem all rolled up into a bite-size package—well, for those who take big bites, anyway.
The too-perfectly named Louis Francis Welcome, M.D., who figured in the prolific Palmer’s last novel, Oath of Office (2012), has his work cut out for him. Formerly an emergency room doctor, his practice now involves leading addicted docs through the cure. “What I have is a handful of doctors who are in terrific, solid recovery,” he proudly notes. But he hadn’t reckoned with Gary McHugh, an M.D. determined to drink the Potomac dry and seemingly unconcerned with the whole business of healing himself before setting to work on the society dames of Washington. Alas, there’s the rub: A congressman turns up dead, and McHugh has, well, been treating said congressman’s wife with a little too much bedside manner. But there’s more to it than that: There are Black Ops dudes crawling around everywhere, their tans freshly sprayed on to blend into the wilds of Afghanistan but not be out of place inside the well-groomed confines of the Beltway, either. Why would they want anyone but the Taliban dead? Well, that’s just one question that resonates through this book, which is surely less formulaic than it could be while still honoring all the hard-boiled conventions of the political-thriller genre. Palmer is no Trevanian, but he handles his story with confidence, and he can write a sentence. Best of all, he has the good grace to let Welcome bow out here and there to let other players on the good-guy team shine, chief among them a legal beagle who won’t take no for an answer, not even when Navy SEALs are on the issuing end.
A competent entertainment; nothing to think about overmuch, but with plenty of chills and spills.