Michael Palmer didn't begin his career as a writer, in fact his professor strongly discouraged him. It was after reading a thriller by Robin Cook that he decided with the same education and career in the medical field as Robin Cook that he too could write. The story came easily, the actual writing took more work. You can read about Michael Palmer's road to becoming a successful author here.
The First patient is about two friends from the Naval Academy. One became a physician, the other the President of the United States. It was after several episodes of illness and the disappearance of his personal physician that the president decides to request the services of his long time friend who reluctantly leaves his ranch and moves into an office in the White House. Finding the reason for the "episodes" attacking the president was no easy task even for a seasoned physician.
This was a thriller with lots of twists and turns and it was difficult to decide who was trustworthy. Michael Palmer shows his knowledge in the medical field which I found sometimes confusing, but nonetheless added to the mystery.
Each of the Michael Palmer novels I've read have had a gripping story. He's a master weaver of tales.