When you've written as many novels as Michael Palmer has, it's a logical inevitability that something is the best and something else has to qualify as the weakest! It's a sad day to encounter that candidate for a career worst when you've come to believe that an author's quality is almost inevitably top flight!
When Evie Corbett, a young up-and-comer in the community, dies suddenly and unexpectedly on the eve of a surgery, homicide is suspected and the only suspect within view is her husband, Dr Harry Corbett.
At this point, I'm going to digress a little and take the liberty of quoting myself from my recent review of another Michael Palmer novel, "Critical Judgment":
"Uh oh ... I rolled my eyes and sighed, thinking I was wading into that aging medical thriller chestnut of the heroic sole practitioner waging battle against some evil megalomaniacal corporate demon. When Robin Cook first wrote "Coma" in 1977 almost single-handedly creating the medical thriller genre, this might have been new and exciting fare. But, since then, it's been beaten to death and I was convinced that "Critical Judgment" was bound to be a derivative dud."
Well, I went on to admit that "Critical Judgment" successfully beat back that initial negative impression and succeeded in spades.
But, "Silent Treatment" is another story. This time around, my eyes rolled back and just kept right on going. The plot (which IS of the derivative sole practitioner versus corporate megalomaniacal demon variety) and the criminals (a secret cabal of top level insurance executives seeking to eliminate high cost patients sucking profit off their bottom lines) are all fully revealed within the first few chapters by Palmer himself. The characters are wooden and any suspense that the plot may have generated was eliminated by its early revelation and complete lack of credibility. The major villain of the piece is a completely over-the-top, laughable, cartoonish parody ... a caricatured Dr Mengele, most recently an expert in non-invasive medical torture by the Colombian drug cartel. Now the insurance cartel have hired him as a nomadic serial killer, meandering from hospital to hospital, HMO to HMO, killing off expensive patients that the insurance companies have, with most grievous hindsight, realized they should never have given coverage.
And, before any zealous commenters yell at me, this is NOT a spoiler. Palmer managed that all by himself!
"Silent Treatment" was published in 1995. It was neither Palmer's first effort nor his most recent so I choose to treat it as an aberration as opposed to any indication that he's jumped the shark or lost his edge. I'll continue to read all of Palmer's novels as a solid fan but I can't recommend that any reader, fan or otherwise, bother with this particular novel.