Cover image for Harmful intent : a novel
Harmful intent : a novel
Kerr, Baine, 1946-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Scribner, [1999]

Physical Description:
364 pages ; 25 cm
General Note:
"A Lisa Drew book."
Format :


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X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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A prominent doctor's inexplicable failure to diagnose a devastating disease takes a disillusioned lawyer and his gutsy client on separate quests for the final shocking truth in this edge-of-the-seat legal thriller of medical malpractice.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

"Moss was restless, and restless lawyers cause trouble." Peter Moss vowed never to take another medical malpractice case after being defeated by Dr. Wallace Bondurant in a case involving a young girl. Vows being what they are, though, he takes on Bondurant patient Terry Winter, nearing the final stages of breast cancer because of a missed diagnosis. Terry and daughter Emma regularly saw Bondurant together because they got a family rate; Terry went in examining room A, and Emma into B, the children's room with a neat clown on the wall and a happy mirror. Moss has to ferret out and clue-in experts, always avoiding Dr. Angelike Franzblan (the Carcinoma Angel) and other medico-legal parasites, to make the case. Kerr tells a fascinating story of relationships, medical ethics, and behind-the-scenes legal and courtroom activities. This is a fine job of a first novel (the tracing of Bondurant's changes to Terry's chart is particularly riveting), for the story grabs, the plot is believable, and the characters are human. --William Beatty

Publisher's Weekly Review

Malpractice lawyer Kerr debuts with an insider's thriller about America's most distrusted professionals: doctors, lawyers and insurers. For three years, Terry Winter scheduled appointments with family doctor Wallace Bondurant to follow up exams of a suspicious breast lump, but he never ordered a biopsy. Now the working-class mother of a 12-year-old daughter is dying of breast cancer, and she wants answers. She turns to attorney Peter Moss, a malpractice burnout with "Jerry Garcia neckwear," still recovering from a devastating loss in court against the same physician. But if Terry's case seems initially foolproof, it soon runs into trouble, as Moss must cope with an ethically challenged defense counsel, a judge openly hostile to malpractice claims, a demonically omniscient insurance adjuster and an elusive client inexplicably on the lam in Mexico. "You think you know your client and your facts," Moss reflects wearily, "but all you really know is your case‘which is to say your own mental constructs." The more Moss learns about his client, a hard-livin' bartender taken to quoting Janis Joplin and Thoreau ("My man Henry"), the less plausible the premise becomes: how is it possible that this wised-up lady never bothered to get a second opinion? Kerr nearly tips his hand about Dr. Bondurant's secret early on, and strains credulity with the judge's bizarre disposition of the case. But readers will be riveted to his expertly drawn trial sequences‘dark and sometimes painfully funny scenes of bloodthirsty lawyering and bloodless doctoring. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

The adage for wannabe writers is "write what you know." Kerr, a lawyer specializing in medical malpractice cases, does just that with this first novel, a page-turning legal thriller about a dying woman's lawsuit against her highly respected doctor. Accompanied by her 12-year-old daughter, terminally ill Terry Winter walks into the office of Peter Moss, a disillusioned medical malpractice lawyer who has just returned from a six-month sabbatical in Costa Rica after losing a case involving Terry's doctor, Wallace Bondurant. Although he swore never to accept a medical malpractice case again, Moss agrees to take on Terry as a client when presented with obvious evidence of misconduct. Throughout the trial, the intriguing question is why Dr. Bondurant failed to diagnose Terry's breast cancer. Recommended for all public libraries.ÄJill M. Tempest, Ocean Springs Municipal Lib., MS (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.