The Survivors will be the first book in a proposed mystery series featuring Cal Henderson, a Washington, DC psychologist with a traumatic past of his own.
When he was eight years old, his mother killed his father and his two brothers in a murder suicide. As the 25th anniversary of the event coincides with the arrival of a strange new patient and a drastic increase in Cal's previously controlled psychological symptoms, Cal feels compelled to trace his mother's last days. In his search for answers, he uncovers secrets about his mother's life involving a defense contractor's dark dealings, a nominee for US attorney with a questionable past, and a shady corporate billionaire whose sphere of influence seems to include everyone from the Pentagon on down. Meanwhile, as Cal gets closer to discovering the truth, recovered memories of the tragic events of his childhood push him into a psychological tailspin.
The author, a longtime lawyer in Washington, DC, has several ideas for additional books involving Cal's patients, all of whom will have some connection to the federal investigative or political world. The proposed sequel, Justice Leeds, centers around a Supreme Court justice who may be involved in the disappearance of a young woman with whom he's been having an affair. The series also promises additional emotional tension owing to Cal's interest in both his office manager and a female FBI agent introduced in The Survivors. The insider view of Washington politics will appeal to fans of beltway thrillers. And, of course, the "psychologist as protagonist" recipe has proven to be a success: obviously Patterson's Alex Cross, but also more recently in Michael Robotham's Joseph O'Loughlin series set in England. And yet Palmer's protagonist, who is not just a crime therapist but is also plagued by his own psychological problems, is a breed of his own.