1 out of 4 stars
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First, Do Harm is a medical thriller by Marc Kage featuring Dr. Benson Zubia. Dr. Zubia is the family doctor to many in town and is greatly respected and loved. So, when accusations of fraud surface regarding an older woman's will, the town is shocked. Lara Dennis is foremost among those who doubt the validity of this claim, as he's been her family doctor for years. She and her partner, Jacky Raven, have been tasked with finding the truth in this matter. As they dig deeper, they realize the truth might be more shocking than they thought.
The premise of the story is interesting and attention-grabbing, even if not entirely unique. After all, many medical books center around a doctor who considers himself a god in one way or another. Yet, it was enough to keep me engaged throughout and the best part of the book.
Unfortunately, my praise ends there. The book had many flaws, most of which could be corrected by a good editor. The first of these would be the grammatical and typographical errors that littered the pages. Not only were there missing or extra words and missing periods but also the point of view would switch between third and first in the same sentence. More so, the author used both past and present tenses. These mistakes were numerous and distracting. For example: "He argued before leaned back on his chair."
In the same vein, characters' names change, causing confusion. Sharon Adelina starts out as Sharon Adelson, which is particularly confusing as there is another unrelated character whose name is Adelson. Sentences are also repeated. Even if the sentence isn't duplicated, there is a lack of variety in the use of words. Here's another example from the book. "Navarro went inside the elevator with other people before one person pressed a button for the doors to close and the elevator to take them up."
Moving from these issues, the story is unrealistic. I'm all about suspension of disbelief, yet there should be a sense of reality in a thriller of this type. There are too many unexplained circumstances that go unanswered for too long before they are investigated. Once the culprit is found, he or she is serving a life sentence within a month of being caught. Plus, some of the evidence is obtained illegally, which is never addressed. Maybe I've seen too many police dramas on television, but it was all too obvious to me.
From there, I feel it's wise to discuss the characters. They weren't introduced well, as I had difficulty telling who was related to whom. There were step families and half-brothers and sisters; it was confusing to figure out. What's more, the relationship between Lara and Jacky was weird. Lara seems to be in charge, but she doesn't respect Jacky. She treats her like a child, which is odd between two detectives.
To summarize, the plot has potential, but it's not realized. The errors are overwhelming, the realism is lacking, and the relationships were enigmatic. For all these reasons, I rate First, Do Harm 1 out of 4 stars. If the book was edited, I might be willing to increase this to 3 stars. As it is, I can't recommend this to anyone. I am looking forward to seeing what becomes of it after an editor cleans it up.
First, Do Harm
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