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‘Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Release Date: Available Now

352 Pages

Synopsis: Cam Hilliard is, in addition to being the President’s sixteen-year-old son, a chess prodigy. A year into President Hilliard’s second term Cam inexplicably stops playing the game he loved and becomes withdrawn. The First Lady is convinced that the senior White House physician is wrong in diagnosing Cam’s issue as a psychological one, and she demands that Dr. Lee Blackwood be brought on to provide a second opinion. Lee’s opinion is dismissed, until Cam’s spleen ruptures and it becomes obvious that something is horribly wrong. 

Lee informs the President and First Lady that to make a diagnosis they need to find other people with the same symptoms to conduct additional testing. From there, it’s possible to to identify the the gene defects and correlate those to the missing enzymes. Only then can a diagnosis be made and treatment begin. For now, they must face the harsh reality that Cam’s genes are producing a mutation that appears to be entirely new to science.

As Lee delves into this medical mystery, he comes to believe Cam is not the first case of this presentation of an inborn error of metabolism. But when two young people Lee has found, each with exceptional gifts, are murdered, Cam’s condition suddenly takes on a terrifyingly new dimension. Is someone out to murder the President’s son? If so, why? As Lee searches for answers he will uncover unimaginable secrets and dark betrayals that breach the highest levels of security.

I’ve made no bones (please forgive the pun) about how much I love the medical thrillers of Michael Palmer and although he sadly passed away in 2013, his son Daniel (a respected thriller writer himself), has been doing a wonderful job completing his unfinished manuscripts. The First Family is the third book after Trauma and Mercy I’ve read by the duo, and I enjoyed it every bit as much as the first two. My only criticism is that sometimes the medical terminology gets to be a bit much and slows down what is otherwise a non-stop thrill ride. There are also some eyebrow-raising implausible situations, but with relatable characters you can’t help connect to, and the way both writers manage to make things like genetic anomalies, brain enhancers, and neurophysiology fascinating, these are minor complaints. If you enjoy cutting edge medical thrillers with plenty of mystery and suspense, I can’t recommend The First Family highly enough!

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