Do No Harm by Jack Jordan: A heart-pounding thriller – book review –

Heart surgeon Anna Jones’ eight-year-old son Zack has been abducted and now she faces a terrible choice.

By Pam Norfolk
Wednesday, 15th June 2022, 12:30 pm
Do No Harm by Jack Jordan
Do No Harm by Jack Jordan

She must deliberately kill a high-profile patient on the operating table during risky bypass surgery… or the kidnappers will murder her only child.

Jack Jordan, bestselling author of brilliant page-turners like Anything for Her, My Girl, Before Her Eyes, and Night by Night, is back with his best yet crime thriller, a menacing, mind-bending journey into the machinations of a doctor facing a haunting, life-and-death decision.

The inspiration for Do No Harm came to Jordan when he underwent a minor medical procedure in which he had to be sedated and trust strangers with his welfare. When the anaesthetic wore off, he began scribbling his notes, wondering just how iron-clad a surgeon's oath is, and what it would take to break it.

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And the result is an emotionally and psychologically powerful drama… a gripping tale of deadly dilemmas and cold-blooded crimes, played out with breathtaking suspense by a cast of exquisitely drawn characters whose motives and morals are as intensely human and complex as they are compelling and chilling.

Cardiothoracic surgeon Anna Jones has had a bad day. A man died during heart surgery and it was under her ‘command.’ Her job isn’t just about ‘fixing hearts’, it’s also about informing grieving relatives... knowing how best to break hearts.

And in two days’ time, she faces the biggest heart bypass op of her career. She will be ‘brandishing a scalpel’ over high-flying MP Ahmed Shamir, the man rumoured to be the next leader of the Labour Party and a potential Prime Minister.

The pressure feels even greater because of her guilt over son Zack who is still reeling from his parents’ marriage split and has accused his mother of putting her patients before him, not least because she can’t go on half-term holiday with him to Cornwall.

Her personal scrubs nurse, Margot Barnes – who has troubles of her own, including a mountain of debt – senses that Anna is out of sorts but all her efforts to ‘force a friendship’ have always been spurned, chiefly because Anna doesn’t ‘muddy working relationships with personal affection.’

But that same evening, Anna arrives home to a nightmare. Zack has been kidnapped, along with her neighbour Paula who acts as babysitter, and the abductors are demanding she kills Ahmed Shamir during the operation… or Zack will die.

As a surgeon, she knows it’s her job to save her patient but as a mother, she knows she must kill him. For Anna, there really is only one choice… she must get away with murder or she will never see her son again.

Meanwhile, Detective Inspector Rachel Conaty is investigating a murder after a body was found at the bottom of a well. It was a ruthless execution and despite her own haunting memories of a personal tragedy, this is a case she is determined to crack…

Do No Harm is a devilishly clever, twisting and turning medical thriller with huge emotional heft and psychological insight as Jordan plunges readers into the lives of three fascinating women, each battling their own demons and each harbouring disturbing secrets.

For Anna – a cold, aloof and very private loner consumed by guilt – the abduction of Zack is her defining moment as a mother. Is the surgeon who took an oath to preserve life brave enough, and willing enough, to risk destroying her hard-earned career to deliberately kill a patient and save her child’s life?

With the intriguing stories and accompanying dramas of troubled nurse Margot and dogged detective Rachel feeding into the nail-biting action, this teasing, tantalisingly addictive story grips from first page to last.

A heart-pounding thriller in more ways than one!

(Simon & Schuster, hardback, £12.99)