Michael Palmer’s 11th medical thriller, Society, targets the inherent dangers present to doctors, as well as, to consumers from the managed care industry that places profits ahead of patient well being. Using his insight as an ER doctor Palmer attempts to shed light on some of the more common abuses that HMO’s practice daily, such as denying some patient’s necessary medical care. This societal crisis is shown through the eyes of Palmer’s protagonist, Boston surgeon Will Grant who believes that the managed care industry is damaging his profession and the patients it serves. This has caused his rise to a leadership position in the Hippocrates Society, a group of highly dedicated professionals who want to bring these abuses to light.   

The mystery itself centers on the murder of four HMO CEOs in Massachusetts where Dr. Will Grant is considered a talented and caring physician before he is targeted by a colleague and made to look like an addict of the first caliber. The crux of the matter is that Will, who is unwittingly drugged, endangers a patient’s life when he collapses during a delicate operation. This, of course, results in his losing his privileges at the hospital and being sued by the patient’s family.  Enter Patty Moriarity, a rookie Massachusetts state police officer who is investigating her first big case and trying to discover what the murdered CEO’s could have in common. At first, Patty suspects Will due to his outspokenness regarding the evil of managed care but after some early research, she teams up with him to prove his innocence.  

Soon love blossoms between the two further endangering Patty’s credibility in the eyes of her superiors, who believe that she has obtained her position on the force through the influence of Police Commissioner, Tom Moriarity, her father.   Within the story line there were several antagonists including one major chauvinist, Detective Brasco, who takes over the investigation when their supervisor decides that Pattie is not making progress fast enough. However, Pattie continues investigating on her own time and nearly gets herself killed when she jumps in front of a bullet intended for Brasco. The bullet hits Patti in the skull putting her into a coma at nearly the same time that Will is kidnapped and tortured to prevent him from disclosing evidence that he has happened upon. Palmer then wraps up the drama with a slam-bang battle between our love-smitten duo and some extremely nasty HMO executives and their loyal, gun-toting minions.The story was well written and flowed well never giving the reader time to be bored. Palmer’s settings, developed characters, and plot combine into a gripping story that will not disappoint his fans as they are led to empathize with the protagonists, Will Grant and Pattie Moriarity. However, the reader should beware that the book will tend to make you question your own safety in regards to the current practices in medical facilities and how HMO’s determine what you are covered for. Given that I have to add that I have read several novels by Michael Palmer and have enjoyed each one and while the Society was not my favorite it was a very good medical thriller that kept my interest to the end.[tags]book review, fiction, Society, Michael Palmer, medical thriller, HMOs, societal issue, addiction, state police, murder, thriller, romance mystery[/tags]