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Extreme Measures
By Michael Palmer

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Extreme Measures

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Extreme Measures
By Michael Palmer
Center Point Large Print Edition, (2003)
ISBN: 1-58547-259-X
Genre: Mystery - Thriller

Reviewed by Herbert White - April 14, 2003

Extreme Measures is a breathtaking medical thriller by Michael Palmer. The story starts most sinisterly as Marilyn and Richard Colson stumble upon a mental hospital for the criminally insane 'hidden' in the middle of the desert. At first glance, everything seems on the up and up, but when they both suddenly get sick they begin to surmise that something odd might be going on...

Into the mix, we are introduced to Sandy North, an ATF agent who goes under the cover name of Phillip Trainor. When his cover is blown he is beaten up. When he is taken to the local hospital he is declared dead. However, to the best of anyone's knowledge, he is just a nameless bum that died alone - or did he?

These two cases are but the tip of a monumental iceberg that Eric Najarian will flounder upon. Najarian is the chief resident of emergency services at White Memorial Hospital. Hard working and intelligent, Najarian lives for his job, and he is willing to do almost anything to succeed. So it is perhaps not surprising that when he is approached by a mysterious group that call themselves Caduceus, Najarian doesn't simply dismiss them out of hand. The group promises that Najarian will be elected as the new associated director of emergency services at the hospital, if he agrees to join their 'association'. All he has to do is promise to administer a particular treatment to certain patients, on their command. At first Najarian figures that someone is just playing a prank on him - but then he begins to suspect that the group is real and without due thought, gives them the sign that he accepts their offer. When he has second thoughts, he finds that they are not willing to let him off lightly...

At the same time that Najarian's life is becoming more complicated than he ever imagined, Laura Enders has returned to the US, from the Cayman Islands, in order to start searching for her missing brother, Scott Shollander. A young man for whom, she discovers, it is as difficult to uncover who he really was and what he was doing as it is to figure out how and why he disappeared...

As the death count mounts in this non-stop action thriller, Najarian and Enders team up to solve the mystery surrounding Shollander's disappearance and the plague of unexpected deaths that seems to be occuring at White Memorial Hospital. Palmer is a medical doctor and he brings a sense of authority and realism to the story that is matchless. So it is not surprising, that I found the most interesting elements of this story to be centered around Najarian's investigation into what is killing his patients, and how to stop the new 'disease' before he becomes one of its casualties.

Extreme Measures is a well-plotted, complicated story that is hard to put down, but it is not for the squeamish. There is one scene in which an autopsy is done on a 'live' victim that is particularly gruesome. There is also a lot of strong language used throughout. Palmer's gives his characters a lot of diverse mysteries to solve, but one by one, they skillfully bring the whole affair to a memorable and unexpected ending! Oh, did I forget to mention the zombies? Well, I guess you'll just have to read the book....

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