Book Reviews of The Fifth Vial

The Fifth Vial
The Fifth Vial
Author: Michael Palmer
ISBN-13: 9780312343514
ISBN-10: 0312343515
Publication Date: 2/20/2007
Pages: 384
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.

3.8 stars, based on 98 ratings
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Book Type: Hardcover
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

28 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed The Fifth Vial on + 26 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
Incredibly chilling because the scenario is entirely possible in today's world. An excellent example of Palmer's best writing and intimate knowledge of the medical thriller as relate to the every day life of each of us.
reviewed The Fifth Vial on + 305 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
I really enjoy Michael Palmer's books and this was no different. Three people in different parts of the world end up at the same place with the same agenda. Great story and characters......end up caring about them a lot.
reviewed The Fifth Vial on
Helpful Score: 3
I borrowed this book from a friend and thoroughly enjoyed it. Being a nurse, I felt the medical parts were accurate enough while not overwhelming. The plot was a little over the top, but isn't that what makes a thriller so enthralling?
reviewed The Fifth Vial on + 126 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
This medical thriller takes you on a roller coaster ride through Chicago,
Boston, India, Brazil and Africa with a terrific surprise ending. The premise will scare the heck out of you and make you wonder "could this really happen?"
reviewed The Fifth Vial on + 5 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
This book rocks with action. Palmer brings in people from all over the globe in and at the end binds them together in a giant, outrageous, yet believable ending.
reviewed The Fifth Vial on + 7 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
As a person going into the health fied I found this book absolutely fascinating. It deals with the illegal harvesting of organs for transplantation and is very well written, I would recommend this book to anyone.
reviewed The Fifth Vial on + 6 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
i really had a hard time putting this book down. all three of the main characters were extremely well developed and likable. i just do not think that the story was as believable as other reviews state.
reviewed The Fifth Vial on + 14 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
The Fifth Vial had such promise when I first started reading it, but soon (after about 10 chapters) I found myself wanting to edit it rather than enjoy reading it. Michael Palmer (author) may have the title of M.D. going for him helping him write (for the most part) believable medical scenarios, but that's about it.

The dialogue is just laughable. Here is an example - a very serious sentimental talk two people are having - "Hey thanks. Thanks for believing in me man." "No problem." "You going to finish your food...?" Or better yet - a stressful situation where one character is threatening to kill - "I will kill innocent people if you don't help me." "But-" "Seriously I will even hurt someone you like." "What are you?" "A serious man. Are you in?" "Whatever."

There are multiple redundant phrases- "He gave a look, that everyone knew was confusing, because he was confused."
Or if two women got together to talk - "They soon got to talking about life, love, and their futures."

Palmer would keep the book moving relatively quickly but every once in a while he would have to stop and describe something. In vivid and annoying detail. By the end of the book it was like watching multiple trains colliding. You just keep thinking to yourself - "How is it possible to make this book any more terrible?" And he does something else. That makes it more terrible - two of the main characters are in love, but their futures look bleak :( But oh wait! I can solve this! I shall kill the smartest character I have to help one of them!! It's genius!!!

Better yet, at the end of the book in his Author's Note he writes "My goal in writing suspense is first and foremost to entertain my readers and transport them, however transiently, from the stresses and cares of their lives to highly stylized world of the novel." So let me get this straight, you're taking me away from my stressful world, to put me in your much more stressful world of death and medical horror. Gee thanks Doc! "My secondary goals are to inform and present, without resolution, issues of social and ethical importance." Yeah, he FAILED on the part of "without resolution." The whole book was about "unethical organ trade" where multiple characters incessantly whined about how wrong it was. Not to mention there was actual resolution of the stopping of the organ trade.

Read this book, if you want a good laugh. But seriously, don't for once think that because it has "THE SENSATIONAL NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER" on it that it will be, even remotely, thought provoking.
reviewed The Fifth Vial on + 30 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Good intensity, good character developement. Sometime his books have the same feel (good DR, bad DR, good cop, bad cop) but the story line was good enough to keep me going. Plot was believalbe enough ro be a possible "real" medical thriller. One of the reasons M. Palmer is still one of my favorite authors.
reviewed The Fifth Vial on + 218 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Medical student Natalie Reyes has fallen in disgrace with her supervisors and got suspended from school for 4 months. Her mentor and friend, a famous transplant specialist sends her to Rio/Brazil to speak at a transplant meeting. She never arrives there but is kidnapped, drugged and shot. Days later she awakes with her left lung lost in the shooting. Everything points to her needing a transplant soon.

At the time P. I. Ben Callahan is hired to investigate the identity of an unknown man who was run over by a truck but has visible marks of a recent bone marrow transplant. The Organ Guard Institution assumes him to be a victim of organ trafficking especially because they know about a similar case of a surviving woman who was kidnapped recently.

Valuable Dr. Joe Anson desperately needs a lung transplant. To not loose his valuable research he is tricked into agreeing to a transplant but later has to learn, that he was terribly tricked into an early transplant that has been waiting for him for a long, long time.


The Fifth Vial is one of the best thrillers I've read this year. With an already satisfied appetite with the organ trafficking topic, this novel didn't hurt a bit. Quite the opposite, I couldn't put it down.
The book has three main characters with Natalie and Ben independently bringing the plot together from their perspective. They both, Ben more than Natalie act stupid at times, bringing their lives into even more danger but readers that are not bothered by some questionable turns in the storyline will enjoy this medical thriller from the first page to the last. They even might oversee the more or less last chapter (which is a bit cheesy) that concluded the relationship between Natalie and the person who received her lung.

Good read !
reviewed The Fifth Vial on + 186 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
I enjoyed reading this book. Even though it was long I found it hard to put down. The plot was fast paced and the characters were interesting.
reviewed The Fifth Vial on + 5 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Wonderful, takes a bit of time to gather all the characters together, but it keeps you on the edge and makes you want to listen until completed. You will not be disappointed in this book.
reviewed The Fifth Vial on
Helpful Score: 1
I only listen to audio bks when I am driving. I drove to listen to this bk. This is a thriller from beginning to end . Even if you begin to unravel the plot it is a surprise at the end with a real deep breath from both lungs.
reviewed The Fifth Vial on + 210 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
a little ridiculous but kept my interest anyway!
reviewed The Fifth Vial on + 82 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Loved it.
reviewed The Fifth Vial on + 16 more book reviews
Another suspenseful book from Michael Palmer I couldn't put down! This medical drama revolves around the black market of organ donation and brilliantly weaves together the lives of three disconnected, random people with an ending that'll definitely stay with you long after you've finished it. While the book is highly entertaining, it is so well written it gets you thinking about the ethical and social implications of organ transplant without overshadowing the plot and really makes you reevaluate organ donation.
reviewed The Fifth Vial on + 7 more book reviews
I couldn't put this book down.
reviewed The Fifth Vial on
Wonderful book if you are into medical thrillers. I have numerous books from Michael Palmer and I found them all thrilling.
reviewed The Fifth Vial on + 54 more book reviews
Wonderful! I think this was the first of his I have read, but it won't be the last. Well defined characters with layers revealed as you read. A chilling storyline just scary enough to be believable.
reviewed The Fifth Vial on + 32 more book reviews
One of Michael Palmer's best medical thrillers, this book deals with harvesting organs for profit. It was hard to put this one down!
reviewed The Fifth Vial on
Such a wonderful read. Scary to think that it could(or does) happen. Everything came together at the end. The epilog choked me up.
reviewed The Fifth Vial on + 5 more book reviews
Highly innovative medical detective novel. Fast paced and hard to put down. Writing and medical knowledge are first class. Probably his best.
reviewed The Fifth Vial on + 77 more book reviews
This book was SO intriguing. The story held together and made me keep turning the pages.
reviewed The Fifth Vial on + 1050 more book reviews
A mysterious international cabal, specializing in the illicit harvesting and transplant of human organs, is the villainous force in this medical thriller.
reviewed The Fifth Vial on + 74 more book reviews
It was a little hard to get into, maybe the first half of disc one, then it got very interesting. A good listen.
reviewed The Fifth Vial on + 504 more book reviews
Another good read from Michael Palmer!
reviewed The Fifth Vial on + 10 more book reviews
Page turning of his best!
reviewed The Fifth Vial on + 335 more book reviews
While reading/listening to this book, one can't help but wonder if this could really happen...or does really happen. Yikes! Surrounding organ transplanting and the illigal trade thereof, this is a good book, full of action, with a curveball thrown in at the end.