The Horror Honeys: Hardcover Honey's Haunted Bookclub: "Doing Harm"

Hardcover Honey's Haunted Bookclub: "Doing Harm"

Book of the Week – by Jocelyn

Doing Harm  by Kelly Parsons 

Per the author photo and bio, Kelly Parsons is a handsome urologist who has written a proficient medical thriller about, guess what, a handsome urologist.  In “Doing Harm”, Parsons' totem is Dr. Steve Mitchell, chief surgical resident at University Hospital and all around stud.  Preternatural surgery skills, a loving wife and two cute daughters at home, the ability to function on little sleep – aside from his nervousness about getting a permanent spot at University when his residency is over, it seems like everything is going great for Dr. Mitchell. 

But things aren't as smooth as they could be for Dr. Steve – despite the assistance of his gruff and competent junior resident, Luis, and his smoking hot and whip-smart med student Gigi (GG or “Golden Girl” for short). Steve has a patient who should be an easy case, Mr. Bernard, a friendly blue-collar type in for a fairly routine bladder operation.  When Mr. Bernard's surgery doesn't go quite as planned and he declines in the days afterwards, Steve blames himself.  And aside from Mr. Bernard, his attention is further diverted by another patient, Mrs. Samuelson, an older woman from a nearby farming community who is in the hospital to have a tumor removed.  Steve is only supposed to assist on this surgery, but when the supervising surgeon is called away for a consult mid-surgery, Steve proceeds on his own, despite being quite clearly instructed to leave it alone until the supervising surgeon's return.

This decision leads to one of the best sequences in the book, as, inevitably, Steve's hubris causes a dramatic turn in Mrs. Samuelson's case, leaving the operating room blood-soaked and Steve shaking with fear when his supervising surgeon returns.  With his coveted spot now at risk, Steve's other most important patient, Mr. Bernard, chooses a most inconvenient time to die, and when it appears that he died because of a potassium overdose and that Dr. Mitchell was the prescribing doctor, all bets are off.  The hospital rakes him over the coals and investigates many of his past patients, turning up a disturbing habit of over-prescription of potassium in several earlier cases.  But Steve can't remember ordering that much potassium for any of the patients in question, and wheels start turning in his head.

Despite being....well, kind of an arrogant dick, Dr. Steve Mitchell is no dummy and when he runs the numbers and realizes Mr. Bernard couldn't possibly have died from the dosage he ordered, it seems obvious that he is up against a killer in his own hospital.  When the killer's identity is discovered in short order, but unprovable by Dr. Steve, all bets are off and he must work to clear his name, save his job, his marriage, and his patients lives, before the killer strikes again.

There was much to like about this one – it was suspenseful and the medical scenes were pretty interesting.  I liked that the killer was revealed early on and that the rest of the book was a satisfying cat-and-mouse.  On its best pages, it was like an early Michael Crichton book.  On its worst pages, it.....wasn't.  There was definitely part of me that was rooting for the killer to get away with it, which I can't believe was the author's intention!

Hardcover Honey's Clinical Verdict: Three out of five cocky surgeons for this one.