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A Heartbeat Away

A Heartbeat Away

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  About the Book

A HEARTBEAT AWAY is now available in both hardcover and paperback from St. Martin’s Press.


Genesis, a domestic terrorist organization has released a deadly, highly contagious virus into the State of the Union Address. The president, Dr. Jim Allaire knows the virus well–his administration was developing it before he abandoned the project. Allaire is forced to quarantine the Capitol and all 700 in it. Our government’s only hope is Griffin Rhodes, a virologist whom Allaire has been holding in solitary confinement in a federal prison for nine months because of a suspected terrorist act.

Background Information

A HEARTBEAT AWAY was born after a discussion with my editor, Jennifer Enderlin. Spurred by the success of The First Patient and The Last Surgeon, Jennifer and I decided I would write another medical/ political thriller. The initial idea was to explore the relationship between the president and vice president from a medical point of view.

I was in a very expansive mood when working out the plot, and decided to answer the question of what would happen if everyone on the list of presidential succession were either killed or put in great danger. On the back cover of the book is the actual list beginning with the VP and going through the speaker of the house and the president pro tem of the senate. Finally, are the members of the president’s cabinet.

The more recent the cabinet post, the further down the list. At the bottom is the Secretary of Homeland Security. I also had to deal with the so-called designated survivor, also known as the doomsday successor. This person is sent away for events where all the others on the list are present. It is not a desirable job, but in the book it becomes one that is only a heartbeat away from the president. In addition to the political theme, the novel deals with a protagonist who is a brilliant virologist, but refuses to experiment on or test on animals. A HEARTBEAT AWAY is as thrilling and tense as any I have written.