Regular price: $27.93

Free with 30-day trial
Membership details Membership details
  • A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook, free
  • 1 credit/month after trial – good for any book, any price
  • Easy exchanges – swap any book you don’t love
  • Keep your audiobooks, even if you cancel
  • After your trial, Audible is just $14.95/month
In Cart

Publisher's Summary

The master of medical suspense brings us yet another novel of controversy, biology, and human greed. Internist and emergency specialist Matt Rutledge has spent the last five years of his life in Belinda, West Virginia, trying to find the links between the deaths of his father and his (Matt's) wife. He suspects the Belinda Coke and Coal Company has released toxic chemicals into the environment that have caused the "Belinda Syndrome," a miasma of symptoms that include violent and deadly paranoia in some, Ebola-like hemorrhaging in others. But he lacks proof. Meanwhile, two women come to Belinda, each pursued by violent death. Together with Matt Rutledge, they must get to the bottom of the "Belinda Syndrome" and avert a potential plague, while under mortal threat themselves.
© 2002 Michael Palmer; (P) 2002 Books on Tape, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"[Palmer's] most riveting book yet, leaving hardly enough time to take a breath." (Denver Post)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


  • 4.0 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
  • 4 Stars
  • 3 Stars
  • 2 Stars
  • 1 Stars


  • 4.1 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
  • 4 Stars
  • 3 Stars
  • 2 Stars
  • 1 Stars


  • 4.1 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
  • 4 Stars
  • 3 Stars
  • 2 Stars
  • 1 Stars
Sort by:
  • Overall
  • Barry
  • Katy, TX, United States
  • 01-19-08

A great audiobook by my favortie medical author!

Palmer has long been my favorite author in the medical thriller genre. "Fatal" was one of the few books I had not yet read. I was happy to find the unabridged version on Audible (I hate abridged audiobooks).
"Fatal" did not disappoint. The interplay between the characters, the medical and political corruption, and the seemingly insurmountable challenge faced by the hero... this is classic Palmer. I've read most of his other books (paperbacks), and this is my first audiobook by Palmer I've listened to. The narrator did a very good job, I have no complaints. He carried the story along very nicely.
It's a great story, about a corrupt coal mine and a killer vaccine. Sort of two sub-plots that play along side by side. The author keeps both stories moving nicely till they intersect at the end.
I loved this audiobook, but I'm disappointed that his other audiobooks available are all abridged versions.
The "Extreme Measures" audiobook is only 3 hours? Give me a break!
Please audible, release more unabridged Palmer books!

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Fast-Paced, Believable

This was a great book! I always listen to these books on the way back and forth to work. There were a number of times I sat in the van listening for just a couple more minutes before I could stand to turn it off. If this was a "regular" book, I'd say it was a real "page-turner"!

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Tim
  • San Jose, Costa Rica
  • 11-04-10

I wish I could UN-read this book

Book: I bought this because of the good reviews. BIG mistake. I have no idea what the others saw in this novel, but I think reading it caused me to lose brain cells. I wish I could UN-read this book.

Our hero, Dr. Matt Rutledge (Harvard), is as about bright as a box of coal. He spends much time not paying a lick of attention to his newfound girlfriend Dr I forget her name, (Yale) who IS very bright, but, I suppose, because she is a mere female, does not warrant his serious attention (other than THAT attention).

He thus does one dumb thing after the other until the reader wants to just grab him and slap him silly.

The author attempts to weave multiple sub-plots which all come together toward the end... in a cave... where we find all these stray ends (characters) miraculously alive and waiting for the book to end. Umm... Not. They did not work as sub-plots and the way the author weaves them together at the end requires the reader to just set aside ALL logic and just "believe" that this could happen. If you just have to read this, at least turn off one hemisphere of your brain to make it more enjoyable. Contrived and believable only if you have never read a real medical thriller. Grade 1 STAR - only because ZERO was not available.

READER: Average at best... couple of good characterizations... Makes no difference anyway as this book could not be made good regardless of reader. GRADE C


6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Pamela
  • Raleigh, NC, USA
  • 01-26-07


I enjoyed this book by Michael Palmer,and give it a 10+ rating. It kept my interest with plenty of twists and turns in the plot. Anyone whom enjoys Medical related mysteries will enjoy this novel.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Susan
  • PEARLAND, TX, United States
  • 05-02-04

Far-fetched, but just try to put it down

Doctors, coroners, miners, moonshiners, bikers, a statistician, pharmaceutical companies, a grandmother involved in vaccination issues, and the president's wife -- these lives are bound to come together at some point, don't you think? And what in the world can toxic chemicals from a mining operation have to do with vaccinations and yet another virus with African origins? Michael Palmer does his usual masterful job of weaving all these threads into a fasicinating action thriller. So it's totally unrealistic: it's a great read/listen.

And, for the record, the arguments for and against mandatory immunizations are thought-provoking and reasonably balanced.

As for the recording, Palmer does a very nice job on the reading.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Maria
  • Austin, TX, USA
  • 08-08-06

Great Narrator

This was my first Michael Palmer book and I really enjoyed it a lot. I Liked the different stories that all come together in the end. The plot was great and the narrator did a fabulous job. I really enjoyed his narration. I've listened to books were the book was great but the narrator ruins it all. It was not the case with this one. A great book plus great narration.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Took awhile to warm up to voice

Where does Fatal rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

It was good but almost quit at beginning because of reader's voice

What was one of the most memorable moments of Fatal?

As I tried to figure out who the "main evil boss" was I thought I was right and was sort of surprised and saddened that I was!

Did Michael Palmer do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

I really was grateful that his descriptions helped me to totally keep the characters straight.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?


1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

plot driven by the stupidity of characters

I have read books by this author that I enjoyed. The main characters in this book did not learn from danger or significantly change their behavior because of it. It was often hard to listen to. I finished it but i won't listen to it a second time

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

great story with unexpected twist

easy to listen with many unexpected it twist in a modern medical mystery novel wonderful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Great Book!

Performance was too monotone, but story is great! Real exciting, interesting, fast moving, and intense!