Mama -- with her advanced cardiomyopathy and rare blood type -- is finally scheduled for a heart transplant. But AB-negative U.S. President Webster needs one also, after his ticker craps out during a photo op jogging session just three months before the national election. So the White House chief of staff has ordered the FBI to appropriate Rose's designated heart in the name of democracy. Spence, however, isn't going to let anybody steal what rightfully belongs to his mom. With the help of his reluctant older brother, he's taking to the road in a '65 Mustang -- with a hijacked organ in a cooler, a beautiful cardiac surgery resident by his side . . . and with almost all the president's men in potentially murderous pursuit.
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About the Author
Bill Fitzhugh is the author of seven novels. He still has all of his original organs and plans to keep it that way until the very end, at which point he is willing to let the doctors divvy them up among anyone (with the exception of politicians) who might need them. However, he makes no promises about the quality of his liver. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and all of her organs.
Read an Excerpt
Unchain My Heart
Pete was hauling ass. He was driving a bloodred Dodge Viper with a 450-horsepower V-10. In his rearview Pete could see LAPD chasing as if he'd killed a cop.
It was daybreak. The sun warmed the particulates in the air above Los Angeles. Another tequila sunrise. They were in the hills of Encino. The roads were narrow and winding like a snake, but the Viper hung tight. After a series of daring turns, Pete assumed the confident look of a man who believed he had gotten away. He started to laugh until he fishtailed around a corner and saw ten police cars blocking the road.
There was only one way out, and it was a long shot. The sort of thing to make even a stunt driver hesitate. But Pete accelerated. There was a splinter of space between one end of the police barricade and a house on the corner lot. At the last second, with police firing like an antiaircraft battery, Pete cut the wheels. He slipped the Viper through the tiny space in a blister of sparks, shearing off both side mirrors. Pete saw a flash of Looney Tunes as he raced past a big-screen television in the living room. He crashed out the bay window on the other side and went airborne. When Pete landed, he lost control. His seat belt tore loose as the Viper rolled violently down the hill. It finally slammed to a stop against a huge metal light pole and burst into flames.
Almost immediately a dozen men and women with chemical extinguishers were putting out the fire. A woman raced over, dropping to her hands and knees. She leaned into the overturned car. She saw that the roll cage had buckled. "Hey! Mardell! You okay?." There was no reply.
His real name was Mardell Coleman. Pete was just a character in another over-budget action movie. Mardell was a stunt driver -- "was" being the operative word. His helmet had cracked like a three-minute egg, and he was slipping into a coma. "Get an ambulance!" the woman yelled.
As they dragged Mardell from the car, a Shotmaker camera truck pulled up. From his elevated seat the film's director looked down at the carnage, deeply saddened. He considered the trouble of finding a new driver, then turned to his director of photography. "I think that's a keeper, don't you?"
- - - - - -
Spence Tailor didn't really have a suit personality. There were only three occasions for which he would wear one: funerals, court appearances, weddings. Now that he was thirty-nine, the majority of his friends were already married, so he rarely got invited to weddings anymore. Like most people, Spence did his best to stay out of court, but he was a litigator, so it was hard to avoid altogether. When he was standing in the halls of the courthouse with his shaggy blond hair and his coat buttoned against his trim build, Spence could have been an older surfer going to trial for holding a little weed. He had a compassionate bearing and soothing brown eyes, but they weren't looking at a courtroom today.
Spence stood at the back of the crowd with hands folded as they lowered Alan Caplan's casket into the ground. Respectful and unobtrusive. He wasn't family, and he'd met the deceased only a couple of times, briefly. Still, he couldn't help but cry. The boy was just fifteen, a real sweet kid. Never even got his driver's license. How crappy is that? Spence thought.
It happened like this. Alan's father came to Spence for help late one afternoon, just walked in and sat down, unannounced. In his work Spence saw a lot of people in hard circumstances. Mr. Caplan looked exhausted and overwhelmed, unsure where to start. After a moment he got the words out. "Do you know how painful bone cancer is, Mr. Tailor?"
Spence looked at the weary older man and shook his head. "No, sir, I don't."
Mr. Caplan told the sort of story Spence had heard too many times. Fifteen-year-old with bone cancer in his femur and his scapula. Osteosarcoma. Unremitting pain. Expensive treatment the HMO deemed inappropriate and refused to pay for, knowing the patient would die long before a lawsuit might force them to change policy. Good way to keep costs down. "You can see how much he hurts." The words came hard. "It's awful being so close, standing right there, not being able to help your own child."
"How long did the doctors say he had, Mr. Caplan?"
"Long enough to suffer more than anyone should have to." He couldn't seem to look Spence in the eye. Too ashamed he couldn't do more. I spent all I had for some treatments, but they weren't enough." Mr. Caplan put a hand over his eyes. "All he wants now is to die, with some dignity, you know?"
"Yes, sir. I understand." Spence knew he'd take the case. Man's institutional inhumanity to his fellowman was the sort of thing that triggered a switch inside. Spence lived to fight for causes. But it wouldn't be easy. A lot of things working against them. He wished he could give Mr. Caplan assurances, but he knew the truth was better. I assume you know that, uh, euthanasia is illegal inCalifornia?"
Mr. Caplan wiped his eyes and looked at Spence. "What I know is, it's his life, and nobody -- not me, not the government, not some church group -- nobody gets to decide what he can and can't do with it at this point. Not now. He's going to die soon. He just wants to take control of the process instead of having it control him. He wants to make the last decision of his life, you know?"
Spence nodded respectfully. "Have you contacted any organizations -- "Heart Seizure
A Novel. Copyright © by Bill Fitzhugh. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
What People are Saying About This
“A sick, funny book … for a sick, funny world.”
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
'If you're looking for an easy, whacky kind of book that portrays politcians as the bad guys this may be one to choose. It was fast paced and quick to get through. When I would describe the plot sequence to my friends they would get a good chuckle. I enjoyed most of the characters too (although some I couldn't figure out why they were in the story) I might have given it 4 stars except I felt it could have been 100 pages shorter (enough already) and due to the fact some innocent bystanders were killed whereas an injury might have achieved the same effect-I know that sounds odd but read the book and you'll know what I'm trying to say here. This was my first of Fitzhugh's book and will probably pick up another for a time that I really need time to pass quickly.'
Rose Tailor needs a heart transplant, but her AB blood type makes her need the rarest of organs. Over time Rose works her way to the top of the AB list and is the person to receive the next heart. However, while on the campaign trail for reelection doing the ¿required¿ Clinton fitness jog, President Webster collapses. Rushed to the hospital, he needs an AB heart transplant............................. When stunt car driver Mardell Coleman dies in a crash leaving his AB ticker in place, all the president¿s men jump the conga line to take the heart while Rose¿s two adult sons, attorney Spence and banker Boyd, think otherwise. The competition seems unfair as Webster only has the FBI while Tailor has only her two sons who have slew nothing. The mad, mad, mad world chase begins with one heart for whoever proves to be the worthier warrior....................................... HEART SEIZURE is a wild satire that skews many of the sacred icons of American society especially the notion of fair play when the upper elite or the bottom line competes against the multitude of middle masses. The novel turns the ¿Stupid White Man¿s¿ calendar into a full Keystone Cop¿s parody of the hallowed symbols of equality. Though relationships outside the Tailor family and the governmental vertical organization are never developed, the cast in its zany way makes the story work. Fans who want to see the other side of the rest of the story will relish Bill Fitzhugh¿s latest skin ripper, but clearly more cheers will come from the supporters of Bernie Sanders than those who are always right............................... Harriet Klausner