Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
The Fifth Vial

The Fifth Vial

Michael Palmer

St. Martin's Paperbacks


Mass Market Paperbound

In Boston, a disgraced medical student is sent to deliver a research paper that could save her career… In a hospital four thousand miles away, a reclusive scientist, dying from an incurable disease that threatens to make each tortured breath his last, is on the verge of perfecting a serum that could save millions of lives—and bring others inestimable wealth… In Chicago, a disillusioned detective is hired to determine the identity of a John Doe, killed on a Florida highway, with mysterious marks on his body.

Three seemingly disconnected lives, surging unrelentingly toward one another—
and linked forever by THE FIFTH VIAL


Praise for The Fifth Vial

“An ingenious medical thriller, suspenseful and cleverly plotted.” —Kathy Reichs, author of Break No Bones

“A terrifying vision of the Hippocratic oath gone very wrong.” —Entertainment Weekly

“Palmer taps a real medical issue for storytelling thrills.” —Boston Magazine

“A tale set at the very edge of our medical knowledge. I loved it!” —Tess Gerritsen

“Palmer is adept at tapping into people's natural fear of disease, doctors, and hospitals and converting that fear into unnerving suspense…If medical thrills are what you're after, he delivers.” —Booklist

“In his entertaining 12th medical suspense novel…Palmer, himself an M.D., does a good job of informing the reader on an important ethical issue.” —Publishers Weekly

“Palmer is adept at reaching into the psyche...and knows how to wield a scalpel…chilling.” —Ottawa Citizen

“Gripping and topical.” —The Toronto Sun

“Palmer's latest has thrills and chills aplenty, while conveying a sobering--make that terrifying--message. Not only is this one heck of a medical thriller, it's a scary wake-up call to what could happen if a few individuals decided to play God, a premise that scared the daylights out of me. Could this happen? Palmer makes you think so.” —Sandra Brown, author of Ricochet

The Fifth Vial is a nail-biting thriller you don't want to miss.” —Catherine Coulter, author of Point Blank

“Michael Palmer delivers a complex plot, fascinating characters, and plenty of action. The Fifth Vial is a roller-coaster ride that winds its way through the United States, Africa, India, and Brazil on the way to a terrific surprise ending.” —Phillip Margolin, author of Proof Positive

“Brilliant storyteller Michael Palmer is at the top of his game, and gives us a compelling and thought-provoking tale that will have you looking over your shoulder. It's both realistic and terrifying, and it will keep you up all night!” —Iris Johansen, author of On the Run

“There's a compelling truth at the center of this high-octane thriller. The twists keep you reading and the questions Palmer poses keep you thinking all night long.” —Tami Hoag, author of Prior Bad Acts

“Michael Palmer, perhaps the best of our medical-thriller writers, has penned an action-packed tale that will have you checking all your body parts for days afterward.” —Terry Brooks, author of Armageddon's Children and The Sword of Shannara

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Michael Palmer

Michael Palmer (1942-2013) wrote internationally bestselling novels of medical suspense, including The First Patient, The Second Opinion, The Last Surgeon, A Heartbeat Away, Oath of Office and Political Suicide. His book Extreme Measures was adapted into a movie starring Hugh Grant and Gene Hackman. His books have been translated into thirty-five languages. Palmer earned his bachelor's degree at Wesleyan University, and he attended medical school at Case Western Reserve University. He trained in internal medicine at Boston City and Massachusetts General Hospitals. He spent twenty years as a full-time practitioner of internal and emergency medicine. In addition to his writing, Palmer was an associate director of the Massachusetts Medical Society Physician Health Services, devoted to helping physicians troubled by mental illness, physical illness, behavioral issues, and chemical dependency. He lived in eastern Massachusetts.

Michael Palmer

Photo: Bill Miles



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