If you've followed my blog for any length of time, you know that I have been commuting back and forth from my home in Humboldt County to Sacramento for work.
That's a long 5 1/2 hours on the road with a LOT of dead spots that don't get radio reception, and as I am finding out, some places don't get satellite radio either. This is where my trusty iPod usually fills the time.
Occasionally, I get asked to write book reviews, and I haven't really thought much about doing any. But, recently I was asked to review a "book on CD." The medical subject matter made it sound interesting, and now with the commute, I have the time, and I am, after all, a captive audience in a manner of speaking.
So, over the course of the last couple of weeks, I have been listening to Kelly Parsons' "Doing Harm."
I've listened to other audiobooks, and I've found you can lose interest real fast if the narrator sucks. Trying to speak in a foreign accent, or regional dialect, or in a female voice, or not putting emotion into the story, all of these can lead to a bad listening experience, and even a good story can be ruined. But, Robert Petkoff who is the narrator of this story does a good job. My favorite character is the cantankerous patient that plays a small role in the story. Petkoff's portrayal of his New England accent is spot on and helps solidify this character and the comic relief he brings.
The story itself is a good one; once you get past the author's overuse of metaphors. A few are good, but most got a mental if not audible groan as I was listening to the story. Parsons does a good job for the most part explaining the medical technojargon which he infuses into the story. And, you don't have to be a doctor to get the essence of the story which centers around several patient deaths... or are they murders...? Also, having gone to medical school and trained in surgery, the story took me back to the days living in the hospital, time spent in the OR, the call rooms, M&M conference, etc.
The main character Dr. Steve Mitchell finds himself at the end of his training having gone through medical school and now about to finish his multiple years of residency training as a surgeon... or will it be the end of his training as the murderer sets him up in a series of cunning misdirections. Some you see coming, some you don't.
Mitchell initially seems intelligent and worldly, but soon finds he doesn't have the street smarts he needs as the murderer deftly keeps changing the "game" that he has been challenged with. About halfway through, Mitchell is a drinking, cheating, about-to-lose-his job physician who thought too much of himself and almost had a "clean kill" during a surgical procedure further leading to his potential downfall. The rest of the story shows him finding his inner strength and fighting back, along with becoming something of a better person and doctor along the way.
Working in the medical field, I had to remember that this was fiction at times. Like, how does someone just walk off with a canister of nitrous oxide which no one notices? And pockets that much medication? And, the prominent question of motivation for the murderer never gets answered. I was left with the question of "why?" The murderer states a reason for doing what they are doing, but the deeper trigger is never fully explained. Or so I thought.
The story builds slowly, and toward the end I found myself having to pull over more that once to change the CD (there's 11 of them!) just to find out what happened next. The last three CD's were the most suspenseful, and I'm glad I wasn't on the hilly part of my journey because I couldn't get the next one in fast enough.
If you're planning a long road trip (the story is 13 hours long), I recommend getting this audiobook. Just have someone along with you to change the CD's...