Doing Harm by Kelly Parsons is a debut medical thriller about a Boston surgeon whose hospital and life are under threat from a serial killer. (available February 4, 2014).
Even without reading the author’s bio, you will know the novelist is a doctor from the very first scene as he casually inserts authentic-sounding details into his doctor/protagonist’s thoughts. This is what Dr. Steve Mitchell is thinking as his dying patient’s hand flops lifelessly:
“…Back in medical school, one of my anatomy instructors had pointed out to us how the hand is one of the most recognizably human parts of the human body; how, unlike the anonymous organs inhabiting the abdomen and chest, it can trigger instant recognition and empathy. To prove his point, he sawed a hand off one of the cadavers and passed it around the class, followed by the spleen of another.
He was right, of course. The hand creeped everyone out much more than the spleen, which was like a big, brown sponge left out to dry in the sun for too long.”
Later, Steve thinks about the music his boss Dr. Collier (a dead ringer for the middle-aged Charlton Heston) likes to crank in the operating room during surgery and wonders what patients would think if they could see him cutting into a kidney while humming “I Feel Pretty” from West Side Story. Forget the details of the murders going around University Hospital, it’s details about the way things really work behind the scenes of a big hospital that give us the chills.