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The first family
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Fiction/Biography Profile
Geoffrey Hilliard (Male), President of the U.S., Married, Father, His teenaged son is threatened by potentially fatal illness
Cam (Male), Student, Chess champion; experiences extreme fatigue; moodiness; violent outburst
Karen Ray (Female), Secret Service agent, Guards the president's family; worried about Cam's symptoms; gets a second opinion
Lee Blackwood (Male), Medical doctor, Karen's ex-husband; makes a diagnosis from array of symptoms he's never seen before
U.S. presidents
Fathers and sons
Children of presidents
Sick children
Secret Service agents
Children in peril
Search for truth
Washington, D.C. - Mid-Atlantic States (U.S.)
Time Period
2000s -- 21st century
Large Cover Image
Trade Reviews

  Publishers Weekly Review

Paper-thin characters and a hard-to-swallow plot mar bestseller Palmer's self-described homage to his late father Michael's The First Patient. Karen Ray, the Secret Service agent primarily responsible for the safety of Cam Hilliard, the U.S. president's teenage son, consults her ex-husband, Washington, D.C., family practitioner Lee Blackwood, after Frederick Gleason, the head White House physician, suggests that Cam be treated for a mental health problem. Lee is brought in for a second opinion, and, after his exam, clashes with Gleason over Cam's treatment. Lee's suspicions that there's a physical basis for Cam's symptoms are eventually validated and lead him and Karen to look into the True Potential Institute, "a unique educational center dedicated to helping D.C.'s most gifted children develop mastery in a variety of disciplines," where Cam, a chess master, studies chess and where he routinely receives medications intended to boost mental acuity. The plot never generates much suspense. Readers can only hope that Palmer (Mercy) will return to form next time. Agent: Meg Ruley, Jane Rotrosen Agency. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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 A year into President Hilliard's second term Cam inexplicably stops playing the game he loved and becomes withdrawn.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 identify the gene defects and correlate those to the missing enzymes. Only then can a diagnosis be made and treatment begun. 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.
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