With every one of his ten novels a New York Times bestseller, emergency medicine physician Michael Palmer is recognized by critics and fans worldwide as a master of medical suspense. Now Palmer delivers a relentless thriller that slices to our deepest fears with surgical precision—a tale as timely as it is terrifying, as harrowing as it is plausible. Welcome to The Society.
At the headquarters of Boston’s Eastern Quality Health, the wealthy and powerful CEO is brutally murdered. She’s not the first to die—nor the last. A vicious serial killer is on the loose and the victims have one thing in common: they are all high-profile executives in the managed care industry. Dr. Will Grant is an overworked and highly dedicated surgeon. He has experienced firsthand the outrages of a system that cares more about the bottom line than about the life-and-death issues of patients. As a member of the Hippocrates Society, Will seeks to reclaim the profession of medicine from the hundreds of companies profiting wildly by controlling the decisions that affect the delivery of care. But the doctor’s determination has attracted a dangerous zealot who will stop at nothing to make Will his ally. Soon Will is both a suspect and a victim, a pawn in a deadly endgame. Then, in one horrible moment, Will’s professional and personal worlds are destroyed and his very life placed in peril.
Rookie detective Patty Moriarity is in danger of being removed from her first big case—the managed care killings. To save her career, she has no choice but to risk trusting Will, knowing he may well be the killer she is hunting. Together they have little to go on except the knowledge that the assassin is vengeful, cunning, ruthless—and may not be working alone. That—and a cryptic message that grows longer with each murder: a message Grant and Moriarity must decipher if they don’t want to be the next victims.
The desire to write a thriller dealing with managed care actually sprang from my medical job (see www.physicianhealth.org). My clients are Massachusetts physicians who have encountered difficulty with physical illness, mental illness, substance abuse, anger management, and other behavioral problems. While the overwhelming paperwork and practice restrictions of managed care did not cause their problems, they certainly added to them. There is so much unhappiness, exhaustion, and disillusionment in the medical profession right now that I really felt I had to write about it. Many doctors are working twice the hours they once did just to keep their incomes from plummeting. This at a time when $100,000 or more in medical school loan debt is the norm.
As an ER doc, I only had to deal with issues of record keeping (if I didn’t write down “rectal negative,” as far as the insurance companies were concerned, I didn’t do one), and not finances (I was salaried by the hour). In private practices, the paperwork demands are gargantuan and much work goes unpaid for. Currently, many physicians are fighting back, organizing to design and advocate for some sort of national health insurance that will cover everyone (tens of millions are currently uncovered) and relieve doctors of the crushing burden of paperwork. Enter the Hippocrates Society.
The Society took me two years to create and write, but I am very pleased with the result. It is one thing to choose an issue to write about such as euthanasia, infertility, pharmaceutical company excesses, academic fraud, holistic healing, and the like. It’s another to deal with those issues in the context of a novel of suspense. I think you’ll have a great time reading The Society, and hopefully get a feeling for how your caregivers and their patients have been affected by managed care.