A physician races the clock and a ferocious disease to save a friend’s life.
Lou Welcome, a recovering drug addict and alcoholic, is a part-time emergency room doctor and the assistant director of the Physician Wellness Office, an institution that helps doctors with psychological and substance abuse problems. When Lou’s boss at PWO sends him to Georgia to give a speech, Lou invites his friend and sponsor Hank “Cap” Duncan, a former wrestler, to come along and enjoy the outdoors. While they’re out trail running, Cap slips and takes a terrible fall. Lou’s determined rescue gets Cap to the hospital in time, and his friend seems to be healing nicely until he contracts a hospital-borne infection that starts eating up his flesh. The new strain, which the press calls the Doomsday Germ, is resistant to antibiotics. As Lou learns from Humphrey Miller, whose brilliant scientific mind is trapped in a disabled body, the germ is the work of a fringe organization called the Society of One Hundred Neighbors. To force the government to end entitlement programs, the Neighbors have cultivated the Doomsday Germ, which has now mutated beyond their ability to control it, and they’ve kidnapped a top government scientist to come up with an antidote. Frantic to save Cap’s life, Lou agrees to work with Miller in a secret underground lab, only to be pulled even more deeply into a fanatical plan that tests his physical strength and moral courage in this fast-paced but sometimes far-fetched medical thriller.
Palmer (Political Suicide, 2012, etc.) doesn’t spend much time developing female characters. But in the doctor hero’s latest adventure, he’s tender as well as tough, and you have to cheer him on in his fight to save the friend who helped save him.