Doing Harm by Kelly Parsons fulfills the
Thriller” for the PopSugar 2020 Reading Challenge. At first, I read Strange
Practice by Vivian Shaw for the blog. I enjoyed the story of a doctor
caring for supernatural creatures and the spin on the mythology regarding those
beings—vampires, mummies, ghouls, and the like. But Dr. Helsing’s medical
knowledge, though interesting, didn’t solve the case. I still recommend the
book, but Doing Harm was a better choice for the prompt.
Oh, so many spoilers ahead.
Dr. Steve Mitchell is a resident at University Hospital
in Boston. He’s on the
fast track to a distinguished career as a surgeon. But one mistake causes a
cascade of problems resulting in a patient death. He’s in hot water, desperate,
and “accidentally” has an affair. (It’s not quite rape, but he’s certainly
manipulated.) Then the woman from the affair reveals she’s actually a psychotic
killer. She’s murdering patients to help make the hospital more efficient and
safer, ironically. Does he want in? What follows is a race against time to save
patients, stop the killer, and save his career, family, and ego.
medical thriller, for sure.
The problem was, I hated the protagonist. He was the
most arrogant asshole I’ve
ever read. (And I’ve read American Psycho.) His selfishness and ego left
little sympathy for the character. I never wanted him to win.
kinda laughed when the author revealed the med student was setting him up. I
was like “Ha.” Though the book was fast-paced and had a good premise, I had a
hard time enjoying it. Steve Mitchell was a dick to his coworkers, his wife,
and kids, and to that med student. There was some transition toward the end to
a more sympathetic characterization. People don’t change their stripes, at
least not overnight. At the finale, even when he saved the day, I didn’t like
him one bit.
I stayed with the story because the medical element
ran throughout, fulfilling the prompt. Steve had skills as a hacker, and his
helper Luis (who would have made such a better hero) had military/spy skills.
In the end, medical knowledge and skill won the day. It’s abundantly clear the author did her research and gave us
the right amount of technical knowledge on the med side. I understood most of
it, never felt overwhelmed, or spoken down to. It was like watching House,
except I can forgive House his arrogance because he’s Sherlock.
I LOVE Sherlock.
As I mentioned, the medical aspects were great, the
thriller component well-thought-out and interesting, but other things niggled
at me. I had a serious problem with Steve as a father. He was practically indifferent
to his children until they were threatened. Then he’d give a token “Not my kids” response. That didn’t win me
over. Also, the main character was male, and the story was in first-person
point of view (so told with I, instead of he/she). I could tell a woman wrote
the novel. The lingering descriptions of the male characters pointed to a
female author, especially his friend on the Safety Team. I sensed a bit of
bromance when Steve described his handsome features and cut body more than
love story might have made the personal part of the story more interesting,
says the romance author.
I can forgive a jerk hero. I mean, I love Peter Quill
from The Guardians of the Galaxy, and The Wizard of Once by Cressida
Cowell (read by David Tennant) has an arrogant fool of a hero. But a jerky
doctor (not House) that’s
so full of himself that he almost kills patients? Nope, can’t do that.
give Doing Harm by Kelly Parsons Three Medical Syringes.