Rating: 5/5 stars
Steve Mitchell, happily married with a wife and two kids, is in line for a coveted position at Boston’s University Hospital when his world goes awry. His over-reaching ambition causes him to botch a major surgery, and another of his patients mysteriously dies. Steve’s nightmare goes from bad to worse when he learns that the mysterious death was no accident but the act of a sociopath. A sociopath he knows and who has information that could destroy Steve’s career and marriage. A sociopath for whom killing is more than a means to an end: it’s a game. Because he is under a cloud of suspicion and has no evidence, he knows that any accusations he makes won’t be believed. So he must struggle to turn the tables, even as the killer skillfully blocks his every move. Detailing the politics of hospitals, the hierarchy among doctors and the life and death decisions that are made by flawed human beings, Doing Harm marks the debut of a major fiction career.
I can’t remember the last time I picked up a medical thriller (or legal thriller, or any other kind of thriller). I’ve been so consumed with YA fiction, fantasy and contemporary sagas that I have neglected other genres. I am a huge fan of Stephen King (although I haven’t read any of his books in a while because of that neglecting other genres problem) and I follow him on Twitter. I have made a list of books he has recommended on social media. When Stephen King says that Doing Harm is the, “best medical thriller I’ve read in 25 years,” you know I am going to read it.
The main character, Steve Mitchell, is a chief resident surgeon at a top Boston hospital. He is married with two young daughters and is quite respected at work for his skills as a surgeon. Everything looks bright for his future, both personally and professionally, until patients start dying and this is the beginning of his personal and professional nightmare.
The author, Kelly Parsons, is a urologist turned writer, so his descriptions of operating room procedures and mishaps are quite detailed, realistic and have quite an impact on the reader. I found the surgical scenes extremely intense and suspenseful, especially when things go wrong. I wanted to scream, “No! This can’t be happening!”
There are many twists and turns to this story which made it hard to put this book down. Although Steve is the main character he is not the “hero” of this story. Nor is he a “victim” that you feel sorry for. He is quite flawed and these flaws are slowly revealed through different situations. He starts out likable and then not so much.
I kept picturing this book playing out like a movie. It would translate well to the big screen. This is a great read for commuters, beach reading, waiting rooms, vacations, etc. After reading this book I definitely needed a break from this genre and needed to turn once again to fantasy and YA to help calm me down.