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Oath of Office    by Michael Palmer order for
Oath of Office
by Michael Palmer
Order:  USA  Can
St. Martin's, 2012 (2012)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

From Michael Palmer, the author of A Heartbeat Away and The Last Surgeon, comes yet another blockbuster – Oath of Office.

The Hippocratic Oath that doctors are supposed to live by insists that doctors are to do no harm. What then prompts Dr. John Meacham to scream at a patient and then shoot anyone who might have heard his outburst? He shoots seven people while muttering No Witnesses; then kills himself.

While the plot at this point makes it obvious just what happened to Meacham, the journey to the dénouement is a wild one and well worth hanging in there.

We next go to the White House to find that the President and his wife are not on the best of terms. First Lady Darlene becomes a key player in the novel with more courage than most of us possess. Her sidekick and best friend joins Darlene in ferreting out a message sender whom they have given the sobriquet Mystery Man, MM for short. MM is also very important although we don't learn his name until all hell breaks loose.

Genetically Modified corn, the CEO of a large conglomerate, a dutiful son, conspiracy, murder, trains, and a plethora of other concerns make this novel a compelling one. Oath of Office, if you choose to ponder beyond the printed page, brings forward today's concerns about tampering with nature. It's a must not miss, for sure.

Audiobook Review by Hilary Williamson (Rating:2):

The unabridged audiobook version of Michael Palmer's Oath of Office (8 CDs, 10.5 hours) is read by Robert Petkoff, who does a fine job of distinguishing the wide variety of male and female characters, though as always I'd prefer a female narrator for the women.

The hero of the story is Dr. Lou Welcome, who had counselled Dr. John Meacham (the physician whose shooting spree opens the thriller) for his anger management problem. Lou finds it impossible to believe that the good doc who became his friend could have gone on such a rampage, and starts looking for answers. He finds other individuals in the vicinity of King's Ridge who exhibit uncharacteristic irrational behavior that results in serious injuries.

The trail leads to genetically modified corn (the production method leading to some particularly horrific action scenes later in the story) and takes Dr. Welcome and his old friend and boxing coach Cap into terrible danger. But Lou is not the only investigator. The First Lady, Dr. Darlene Mallory, starts digging also, after revelations from a secretive informant. Eventually Lou and Darlene share information - as well as an instant attraction.

A great deal of the plot stretches credibility to the limit and beyond, especially Darlene's personal involvement - it's hard to believe that a First Lady could be off the grid so much, even with the connivance of one of her Secret Service protectors. And though the exciting story - and the puzzle of what's behind the bizarre behaviors - drew me in and kept me listening, I found I had to turn down the volume at some of the most gruesome parts (the audiobook equivalent of skimming over a tough section to read).

Overall, if you can suspend disbelief and enjoy medical thrillers that verge on horror, Oath of Office will keep you reading - or listening - intently from start to finish.

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