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Doing Harm: Book summary and reviews of Doing Harm by Kelly Parsons

Doing Harm

by Kelly Parsons

Doing Harm
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  • Published in USA  Feb 2014
    368 pages
    Genre: Thrillers

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About this book

Book Summary

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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. The descriptions of surgery and other hospital procedures by board-certified urologist Parsons may leave readers wary of going under the scalpel or even entering a hospital. However, as a medical thriller, this skillfully wrought debut gets high marks for building tension to a breathtaking climax." - Library Journal

"The author's attention to detail keeps the action chillingly plausible, until the climax when one too many twists sends this medical thriller skittering into silliness." - Publishers Weekly

"Parsons knows his subject and does justice to the medical side, although he needs to hold back a bit--telling all the details of a medical procedure and including inside physician jokes can be boring to civilians looking for nothing more than a great yarn." - Kirkus

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Reader Reviews

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Nancy

Great read
This book quickly pulls you into the drama and suspense of the story and is a difficult one to put down. Looking forward to more to come from this author, who shows much promise.

Robert S. (Henderson, NV)

A Flawed Doctor
In "Doing Harm" author Kelly Parsons delivers a powerful, tight and compelling novel that is populated with believable and vibrant characters whose lives, during a six week period, are unalterably transformed by their actions and the actions of others. Set in a prominent teaching hospital and in the suburban neighborhoods in which the hospital residents and physicians reside, this is a story of physician ego, depravity and vulnerability which are played out at the expense of patients whose well being and even lives are compromised by the doctors who are entrusted with their care.

The book has many strengths. First, the story moves at an incredible pace with an electric energy and is conveyed with wonderfully descriptive prose that moves the reader's senses. In fact, the reader is torn between turning the pages as quickly as possible, devouring the plot's twists and turns, and more slowly absorbing the pictures and scenes that the author creates with his thoughtful words.

The author has also structured the story for maximum effect. Initially, the reader is lulled into a calmness as the author conveys the normalcy and promise of the protagonist's family and professional relationships and career. Suddenly, the character's comfortable life is shattered with magnified impact that is created by the juxtaposition between stability and chaos.

The final attribute of the book to be highlighted is the effective manner in which the author, who is a physician, provides depth and believability to the plot by weaving through the story information about the institutional and political workings of teaching hospitals, the hierarchical relationships among the hospital doctors of varying rank and status, operating room protocol and various medical conditions and procedures. So often when a novelist sets his story on a stage about which he has substantial first hand technical and professional knowledge, the writing clearly divides between the "background information" and the prose, interrupting the flow of the story. In this book, however, the technical information is an integral part of the writing and seamlessly adds to the story.

"Doing Harm" is not great literature, but it is a very good book that this reader highly recommends to general book clubs and mystery/ thriller book clubs.

Laura M. (Roswell, NM)

Doing Harm
This was a great book. It had just enough medical terminology in it to make it real without having so much that it would lose the average reader. The characters were believable and the plot kept me reading to see what was going to happen next. Very enjoyable.

Nancy M. (Hillsborough, CA)

Doing Harm
I do not usually read books known as "thrillers" but I sure am glad I read this one. I was immediately drawn into this story of a resident surgeon practicing at an illustrious east coast hospital, hoping to be invited onto it's permanent staff when he finally finishes his residency. The physician author knowingly illustrates the trials and tribulations of such a resident, interesting in and of itself, while he uncovers the incidents and protagonist out to keep him from attaining his goal. I was taught me so much about the inner workings of surgery, most of which I hope I never experience, while thoroughly enjoying a compelling novel with a truly unexpected ending.

Elly, (Roswell, NM)

Compelling Debut Novel
While unexpected life events prevented my delving into this page-turning work, once started, it was impossible to set aside. "Doing Harm" does not release its hold on your attention until the last word, with unexpected twists popping up at each frantic turn of the page. It is well written with strong character development and filled with heart-pounding suspense. Considering the question on the book's cover, "What Would You Do?", I shiver to even contemplate being in our protagonist's position. I have recommended this novel to more than several and am certain that Dr. Parsons has found a second career. Kudos to this debut author...I look forward to more of his work.

Janice C. (Hayward, CA)

Doing Harm
I enjoyed this book a lot. Great book for a train ride. I just won't be going to the hospital for awhile.

...32 more reader reviews

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More Information

Kelly Parsons is a board-certified urologist with degrees from Stanford University, University of Pennsylvania, and Johns Hopkins, and he is on the faculty at the University of California San Diego. He lives with his family in Southern California. This is his first novel. Visit him at facebook.com/AuthorKellyParsons

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