THE FIFTH VIAL by Michael Palmer


Email this review


M.D.s hurry the organ transplant along a little faster than would naturally be the case.

Medical-thriller specialist Palmer (The Society, 2004, etc.), a doctor himself, sets 35-year-old Boston medical student Natalie Reyes against a worldwide association of transplant specialists who think they know best how to allocate the organs, regardless of the wishes—or even the knowledge—of the donors. Natalie, a former Olympic runner, was suspended from her program when she second-guessed a resident in the E.R. With time on her hands, she is available to deliver a paper in Rio for her research supervisor and mentor. The Brazilian jaunt turns nightmarish immediately: Upon landing, she hops into a cab that takes her to the dark heart of the city and winds up losing a lung after being shot. Back in the U.S., private investigator Ben Callahan, a sweet former schoolteacher, starts on a track that will eventually hook him up with Natalie when he is hired by Organ Guard International, an under-funded association of physicians doing combat against organ trafficking. Professor Alice Gustafson of Organ Guard asks him to identify the battered body of a young man found in Florida bearing scars that suggest bone marrow donation. Meanwhile, Dr. Anson, a reformed rake doing research in tropical Africa, fights to keep working while his diseased lungs threaten his life. Anson’s research is funded by the Whitestone Foundation, an arm of a medical conglomerate with which Ben will become familiar as he sorts out the very few clues available to identify that involuntary marrow donor. Then Natalie’s insurance claim turns out to be odd enough that she calls the hospital in Rio where she lost her lung only to discover that she was never a patient there. She’ll have to go back to very scary Brazil.

Nothing creepier than a bad doctor.

Pub Date: Feb. 20th, 2007
ISBN: 0-312-34351-5
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2006


FictionRESISTANT by Michael Palmer
by Michael Palmer
FictionPOLITICAL SUICIDE by Michael Palmer
by Michael Palmer


IndieTHE ORGAN TAKERS by Richard Van Anderson
by Richard Van Anderson
IndieThe Colors of Medicine by Kenneth Goetz
by Kenneth Goetz
IndieWidowmaker by Charles L. Carson
by Charles L. Carson