Miracle Cure

by Michael Palmer

(very good; top 50% of SciThri)

Year published: 1999
Category: medical thriller

Tech rating (out of 5):


Dr. Brian Holbrook, a cardiologist struggling to regain his medical privileges after losing them in the wake of his addiction to painkillers, learns about a miracle drug for atherosclerosis. A mysterious company is pushing for rapid approval, but Holbrook’s hospital, Massachusetts Heart, is doing something funny with reports of complications from the experimental drug. Holbrook’s father desperately needs the drug (called Vasclear, a name worthy of a real-world marketing campaign), and Dr. Holbrook is drawn into the web of deceit that surrounds the drug trial.


Take some medical doctors. Highlight one who has personal problems and readily ignores wrong-headed authority figures. Add a hospital setting. Season with a destroyed reputation and a conspiracy to conceal some kind of medical malpractice. Toss in an evil corporation plus one other villain. Steadily ratchet up the protagonist’s problems, isolate him or her completely and threaten his/her life, then miraculously solve it all in the end. Congratulations, you’ve got an always-enjoyable medical thriller by Michael Palmer.

Miracle Cure follows this winning formula, and fans love it. His themes are interesting and his medical details are accurate. In this novel, the big themes are interventional cardiology (stopping heart attacks by implanting “stents” into clogged coronary arteries), the high-stakes path to approval of new drugs by the Food & Drug Administration, and in a funky twist, the Chechen mafia.

Solid stuff, well-executed most of the time. Don’t expect any real surprises, but enjoy finding out how Holbrook will save the day–and himself.

This book appeals to: readers who like the Michael Palmer medical thriller formula, which is similar to the Robin Cook formula

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