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A HEARTBEAT AWAY (AUDIO)
by Michael Palmer, read by Robert Petkoff
Macmillan Audio, February 2011
Unabridged pages
$36.99
ISBN: 1427209936


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

The President of the United States is delivering his State of the Union Address when people in the audience start falling. A fatal virus has been released inside the capital building and all of the 700 or so who are there have been infected. Those closest to the dead people are the worst off.

The virus was originally developed on order of the President, and Dr Griffin Rhodes had been working on an antidote. The President had cancelled the research, and Rhodes was falsely accused of stealing the virus and imprisoned. Now the President sends for him and begs him to find the antidote before everyone in the capitol building dies. Helping Griff out is reporter Angela Fletcher.

This is a standard political thriller and employs all the techniques that thriller writers use. It is predictable and fairly obvious. A discerning reader will know what is going to happen very quickly. The suspense is not very great and the outcome is never in doubt. The greatest unknown is the identity of the members of Genesis, the organization that takes credit for this attempted coup.

The characters are two dimensional and predictable as well. The President attempts to keep this emergency secret from the American people. He segregates himself and a few supporters from the rest of the victims. The Speaker of the House plots to take over the government and is willing to make a deal with Genesis if that is what it takes to achieve power. Angie is brave, beautiful and resourceful as well. She escapes a number of attempts to silence her in New York City. Griff, isolated in a secret underground lab, is intelligent and courageous. He sneaks out, once he has figured out the ingredient he needs, and then returns to work on the antidote. When he believes he has found it, he uses himself as experimental animal.

The best part of this audiobook was the reader. Robert Petkoff kept me interested in the story, provided what suspense he could, and did an outstanding job of creating characters and making them seem real.

The action moves quickly and the reader helps to create that tempo. The ending, however, was completely predictable. And, of course, there was a romantic thread to the book as well, also very predictable. The book could have benefited from some serious editing. People are not black or white, villains or heroes, but a mixture of many different qualities. And events do not always end the way we expect them to.

Sally Fellows is a retired history teacher with an MA in history and an avid reader of mysteries.

Reviewed by Sally A. Fellows, March 2011

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)


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