Mercy: Michael Palmer/Daniel Palmer
A person’s right to live or end their life is at the heart of the novel. Terminally ill patients might decide to have their life support instruments disbanded and disconnected when their heart stops preferring not to be resuscitated. Having a DNR in place allows this to happen. But, what happens when a suicide or death is done with the help of a doctor? When the suicide or death of the patient is orchestrated and facilitated by means as a drug prescription or by information as an indication of someone adding a lethal dose of something to their IV as long as long as the doctor that is administering this lethal drug is sure of the patient’s wishes and intent. Mercy Killing, Euthanasia, hastening the death of someone by changing some form of support and letting nature or death take its course is what happens when respirators, halting meds, discontinuing food and water allows the person to dehydrate or starve to death, or failure to resuscitate. This is a controversial issue and as you enter the halls or White Memorial and listen to the fears, anxieties of several patients and meet the Angel of Death who has decided their fate you the reader will decide which side of the fence you are on as the authors allow you to understand the reasoning, rationale and motives of a natural born killer. Added in some patients receive large doses of morphine to decrease their pain. Watching this happen to someone is heartbreaking as some patients as I have witnessed first hand experience this when placed by a family member into Palliative care as their final resting place before burial. Mercy: Words are powerful and will come back and haunt you when you least expect it. In this world people will do and say anything and sometimes the best intensions can get you in more trouble that you think. Brandon Stahl is a prominent doctor and just wanted to ease the pain and anxiety of Donald Colchester by telling him he would make sure to administer enough morphine in his IV to help allow him to RIP. But, what Brandon did not know there was a nurse named Sherri who overheard their conversation and when he left the room, another came in directing the nurse in attendance to gather some of meds and explaining to Donald that something was going to be added to his IV to make his world better. Little did he know that he would get his wish and as did several others. Someone is playing Angel of Mercy in their own mind but when the truth is revealed and all of the victim’s deaths sorted out you the reader will be left with a chilling, terrifying and cold feeling that will rock your world and remind you of just how powerful words are and how careful you need to be when speaking.
Walter McKenna was having trouble breathing , his breath as described by the authors was ragged and raw. He was able to sit up with great difficulty and the pale red bumps came on him faster than a high speed train covering his body and causing him the insatiable desire to scratch until his skin bled. Someone entered his room and decided to put him out of his misery and Walter could do nothing about it but listen to the words of his killer. Shirley Mitchell was an older woman suffering from pneumonia yet she was so bad and her body so riddled with pain it was hard to understand what caused the many parts of her body to bleed out, the difficulty stopping it and the controversy within many doctors like Julie Devereux who believed in assisted physician deaths which most doctors feel violates the Hippocratic Oath to do no harm. Is it demeaning to the value of life? Will it as the authors present reduce palliative care options or create abuse? This is a question with many answers and most are left open-ended with the reader, the doctor and patients being the only one for fill in the answer. Max Hartsock is a famous football player whose fate was better served when Julie and nurse Lisa managed to find a way to safe his life. The methods used are vividly described and the discrepancy found by Julie would save his life.
Roman Janowski runs White Memorial Hospital and his agenda is not the same as the rest. His only goal was power and his method was to take over Suburban West, get rid of the CEO, Allyson Brock and bring them what he calls into the present century by installing his method or program to increase patient level, volume and of course help him become richer. Medical care was the last thing on his mind and finding ways to profit and get others to see his way more clearly is bone chilling.
Tommy Grasso was seen at White Memorial many times for chronic COPD. Entering again he realized that this only hope was getting a new pair of lungs. Tommy suffered greatly but Tommy never saw it coming when a simple phone call was made, the message received and Tommy was tested positive for something but what has yet to be revealed and he was next on what this person states when ending his life and saying: I am merciful.
Julie Devereux and Sam Talbot are engaged to be married and her son Trevor and ex-husband Paul are also at the heart of her life. Sam a teacher and Julie an ICU doctor they decided to take a special one last motorcycle ride to relax. A Honda Civic going at a fast pace crashed into Sam and Julie leaving him as a quadriplegic and having no desire to go on with his life. No matter how hard she tries it took until a woman named Michelle from an organization called Very Much Alive to speak to him. Sam seemed despondent and unresponsive at first and although he appeared to be getting somewhat better is limbs remained dormant and without feeling. Knowing that Julie still tried to help him through each day and would marry him anyway. With the help of her son, Trevor who is brilliant when dealing with the internet and loading down aps on her phone, Julie had a valuable tool to help her in her quest to find out what happens next. Someone decided to take Sam’s life and the link among all of the deaths will lead to rash that stems from an allergen that no one realizes.
Gerald Coffey is supposed to be a reputable doctor but he too was involved with what happened to Donald Colchester and what his father William did in order to make sure that Brandon remained in jail. Things spiral out of control and someone comes after Julie and a young diener a morgue worker whose job it is to handle, move and clean the corpse preparing it for an autopsy. They are also sometimes called morgue attendants, autopsy technicians. Jordan Cobb who might just transport bodies to the morgue but whose ability to understand pathology is uncanny. Coffey was devious and when the police question Julie about Shirley’s death she is suspended from the hospital when they claim she injected her with heparin as the cause of her bleeding to death. Her best friend and ME Lucy Abruzzo deserts her and without her defense she has no one on her side except Jordan. Smart, astute and definitely up on his knowledge of pathology able to break into the data bases of both Memorial and Suburban and hopefully not get caught the link is found as it the information the information leads to an allergy but from what and how do the victims come in contact with the cause? Julie is persistent and learns more about the cause and how each victim becomes infected. Added in a special drug is injected into their IV causing this reaction leading to people believing they have some allergy to a specific food. The research is extensive into this field and each of the victims were prey to this horrific means of death including Albert Cunningham the victim that both Julie and Jordan took the sample from in a very unique and clever way in order to prove that Brandon was not guilty and hopefully catch a killer. When Lucy finally believes Julie, apologizes for her disloyalty and the police hear her words will they take down those involved in the cover-up to keep Brandon in jail. Money, greed, power, hate, revenge, lust and someone who has decided to play the Angel of Mercy/Death once again both Michael and Daniel Palmer have more than raised the bar in medical/mystery thrillers but have brought to light a delicate and controversial issue that has more than two sides. What would you do if your family member requested to die? What would you do if you were Julie and your fiancé did not want to go on any longer? Julie and Jordan race the clock and hopefully will get there in time before someone else dies or before she is the next victim of a dangerous killer. One man hired to do the killing. One man behind the cover-up to make sure his son’s body is not exhumed and one who decides who lives or dies. Julie Devereax, persistent, tenacious, smart, unrelenting and a doctor you want on your side at all times. Julie who believed in the right of a patient to opt for physician assisted death: Will she change her mind after what happened to Sam and the other patients? Will she remain at White Memorial? Will Brandon Stahl ever see the other side of a wire fence?
Mercy: What’s your definition? You decide after reading this powerful, compelling, dynamic and controversial novel from one of the best medical thriller writers the late Michael Palmer and an amazing thriller writer Daniel Palmer whose medical prowess and abilities to create twists and surprises in just the right places explains why they are at the top of my list as the best in the field.
Fran Lewis: MJ Magazine/Just reviews