Cover image for Do no harm
Do no harm
Hurwitz, Gregg Andrew.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Morrow, [2002]

Physical Description:
viii, 388 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


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FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf
FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf
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The doors to the UCLA Medical Center Emergency Room burst open and a young nurse stumbles in -- blinded, her once-beautiful face hideously blistered and burning from a savage attack by an unknown assailant. A dedicated physician, E.R. Chief Dr. David Spier is no stranger to the terrible ravages of senseless violence. But this tragedy hits too close to home; the victim is a colleague.

A second violent assault suggests the unthinkable: a disturbed man is stalking the Medical Center, and specifically the women who work there. It's up to Dr. Spier to keep the emergency room running smoothly and efficiently, even as his terrified co-workers wonder who might be next. But destiny is about to place him at the very center of a media frenzy that erupts in the wake of the attacks -- when the brutal assailant himself is dragged into the E.R. in handcuffs and placed under Dr. Spier's care… as a patient.

Hindered by a mutinous staff that refuses to administer to the damaged man, up against angry L.A. cops who would rather see the criminal dead than imprisoned, and alarmed media hungry for a lead story at any cost -- David Spier must now make the most difficult ethical decision of his career. But by doing so, he underestimates the power and cunning of the man he is sworn to heal, and inadvertently unleashes a bloody wave of horror that threatens to engulf everyone and everything he cares about. A single act of humanity has made him a pariah in the eyes of the city

Author Notes

Gregg Hurwitz grew up in the Bay Area. While completing a BA from Harvard ('95) and a master's from Trinity College, Oxford in Shakespearean tragedy ('96), he wrote his first novel. He was the undergraduate scholar-athlete of the year at Harvard for his pole-vaulting expertise.

Hurwitz is the critically acclaimed, international bestselling author of The Tower, Minutes to Burn, Do No Harm, The Kill Clause, The Program, Troubleshooter, Last Shot, The Crime Writer, Trust No One, They're Watching, You're Next, and Tell No Lies. His books have been nominated for numerous awards, shortlisted for best novel of the year by International Thriller Writers, and nominated for CWA's Ian Fleming Steel Dagger. In addition to novels, he also writes comics for DC. He penned PENGUIN: Pain and Prejudice, and was recently tapped to write BATMAN: The Dark Knight.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Hurwitz dedicates this novel to his physician-father, «who taught me that ethics are never timid, rarely convenient, and always vital.» Set in the UCLA Medical Center and the surrounding city, it embodies all those lessons, especially in the figures of Clyde, a victim of so-called psychological experimentation, and emergency department chief physician David Spiers. Revenge against the medical establishment drives Clyde to blind and nearly kill a nurse and splash two female doctors with lye. Spiers seeks Clyde's motivation, but the police (the nurse's brother among them), the ER staff, and the hospital administration want countervengeance. Spiers, whose rigid outlook on life relaxes in the aftermath of his wife's death in his arms in the ER and as he discovers that his mother, once hospital chief-of-staff, wasn't the idol he had thought her, offers himself as bait to capture Clyde and nearly gets killed. Spiers' growing understanding of applying medical ethics to daily practice is only one enticing thread in a smoothly written, gripping fabric of believable incidents, ethical questions, and changing relationships. William Beatty.

Publisher's Weekly Review

After two page-turners distinguished mainly by their lurid action and intrigue (The Tower; Minutes to Burn), Hurwitz shows a more serious side in this adeptly researched, well-constructed tale about science gone awry. One thing that hasn't changed, however, is the authors knack for creating distinctive villains. Here, its a psychologically damaged young man who is terrorizing the staff of a Los Angeles hospital by throwing flesh-burning alkali in the faces of nurses and doctors. After the second attack, police finally figure out the assailant is Clyde Slade, a disgruntled former hospital worker who was let go months earlier for trying to steal drugs. Emergency room physician David Spier believes that Slade may be motivated by something deeper. He launches an investigation of his own, eventually determining that Slade was an unwitting participant in a hushed-up medical study decades earlier that ended in disaster. The study, designed to foster fear in young boys, wound up traumatizing most of them for life. Slade's current behavior, Spier reasons, represents not only a way to exact revenge against the hospital but fulfills a psychological need to generate fear and torment in others. As the cops close in, Spier finds himself advocating for Slade even as he hunts him down. In his most ambitious book to date, Hurwitz delves convincingly into the world of medicine, psychology and investigative techniques. Some characters, a gleeful embalmer, a Nazi construction worker, are a bit over-the-top, and several scenes serve as little more than showcases for Hurwitz's research. But the action comes fast and steady, and by the end, Hurwitz has almost made the case that an alkali-throwing loonie deserves our sympathy.(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

In this new thriller by Hurwitz (Minutes To Burn), a nurse is attacked by a man throwing an alkali substance over her head and face just outside the UCLA Medical Center emergency room. The hospital is thrown into an uproar when a female doctor is similarly brutalized, and the full focus of the Los Angeles Police Department is centered on the medical facility and its staff. Dr. David Spier finds himself in a dilemma when the perpetrator is caught and dragged into the ER. Not only is he burned by the alkali he had in his possession but he has been beaten by the police. The doctor fears that he will never live to see a trial date. The media pick up on the turmoil inside the ER as most of the staff refuse to help Spier treat the man. When the suspect escapes, Spier becomes Dr. Death to all concerned. As his life is turned upside down, the doctor delves into the motivation behind violent crime and finds answers that he does not want. Hurwitz is a brilliant storyteller, and, despite a few scenes that stretch the reader's credulity, he has written a fast-paced plot with nicely defined characters. For all fiction collections. Jo Ann Vicarel, Cleveland Heights-University Heights P.L., OH(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Do No Harm Chapter One Face white and blistering, eyelids swollen nearly shut, hair falling from the front of her scalp in thin clusters, the nurse stumbled blindly through the UCLA Medical Center Emergency Room doors, both hands waving in front of her. Her cries came from deep in her chest, rapid animal sounds that twisted into raspy moans by the time they left her mouth. A half-moon darkened the V of her scrub-top collar, and the skin along her clavicle had whitened and softened. She tried to say something, but it came out a guttural bark. A Hispanic gardener leapt up from his seat before the lobby's check-in windows, cradling the bloody bandage wrapping his hand and knocking over his chair. He circled wide as the nurse advanced, as if afraid of attack or contamination. A mother holding her five-year-old stepped through a set of swinging doors, shrieked, and beelined to the safety of the waiting room. The guard at the security desk rose to a half crouch above his chair. A blister burst near the woman's temple, sending a run of viscous fluid over the mottled landscape of her cheek. Open sores spotted her lips, and when she spread her mouth to scream, her Cupid's bow split, spilling blood down her chin. She groped her way along the wall, her shoulders racking with sobs, her mouth working on air. An expression of horror frozen on her face, Pat Atkins circled her desk in the small triage room, knocking over her first cup of morning coffee, and ran into the lobby toward the woman. The woman retched, sending a thin spray of grayish vomit across the vivid white wall. She lunged forward, her shin striking the overturned chair, and tumbled over, breaking her fall with the heels of her hands. Pat sprinted over, shouting at the security guard, "Tell them to get Trauma Twelve ready!" She reached for a pulse as the nurse rolled onto her back, sputtering and gurgling, leaving a hank of hair on the clean tile floor. When Pat saw the nurse's ID badge, she inhaled sharply, running a hand over her bristling gray hair. "Jesus God," she said. "Nancy, is that you?" The swollen head nodded, the whitish raw skin glistening. "Dr. Spier," she rasped. "Get Dr. Spier." Nearly knocking over a radiology resident with an armful of charts, David Spier sprinted into the Central Work Area bridging the two parallel hallways of exam rooms that composed his division. He pointed at an intern and snapped his fingers. "Carson's supposed to stitch up a leg in Seven. Go keep an eye so he doesn't duck out--you know how he is with sutures. And I need a urine on Mitchell in Eight." He stepped across the CWA, patting his best resident on the shoulder. "Diane--let's move." Diane handed off the phone to a nurse and pivoted, her shoulder-length straight blond hair whipping around so the nurse had to lean back out of its way. Grabbing the pen from behind her ear, Diane slid it into the pocket on her faded blue resident scrubs. David rested a hand on her shoulder blade, guiding her into Hallway One. They both shuffle-stepped back as the gurney swept past them and banked a hard left into the trauma room. They followed behind, David resting his hands on the back of the gurney. The nurses folded in on the patient's writhing body, a wave of dark blue scrubs. Pat leaned over, slid a pair of trauma shears up the moist scrub top, threw the material to the sides. "What do we have?" David asked. A nurse with shiny black hair glanced up. "Caucasian female, probably midtwenties, some vomiting, erythematous blisters on face and upper chest, eyes are opaque, moderate respiratory distress. Appears to be some kind of chemical burn." She reached down and untwisted the ID badge from the mound of fabric. Her face blanched. "It's Nancy Jenkins." The news rippled visibly through the nurses and lab techs. Though they were accustomed to operating under duress, having a colleague and friend wheeled into the ER in this state was beyond even their experience. David glanced at Nancy's blistering face, her pretty blond hair lying inloose strands on the gurney, and felt a chill wash down his chest to his gut. He recalled when they had wheeled his wife in here two years ago, the night of his forty-first birthday, but he caught himself quickly, checking his thoughts. Instinctively, his physician's calm spread through him, protective and impersonal. He quick-stepped around the gurney so he could examine Nancy's face. Her eyelids and lips were badly burnt. If the caustic agent dripping from her had gotten into her eyes and down her throat, they were dealing with a whole new host of problems. "Get me GI and ophtho consults," he said. "And someone contact the tox center. Let's get the offending agent ID'd." Pat glanced up from her post behind Nancy's head. "Some nasal flaring here, and she's stridorous." She chewed her lip. "Hurry with that monitor." "Find me some pH strips," Diane called out. "And let's get saline bottles in here stat." A clerk ran from the room. Two nurses dashed in, pulling on latex gloves and snapping them at the wrists. "Was it an explosion?" someone asked. "Doubt it," Pat said. "Nancy walked in herself--it must've happened right outside. Security's already contacted the police." "She's working hard," David said, glancing at the skin sucking tight against her ribs and around her neck. "Supraclavicular and substernal retractions. Let's get ready to tube her." Nancy tried to sit up, but Pat restrained her. Nancy's breath came in great heaves. "Dr. Spier," she said. Her voice was thick and rough, tangling in the swell of her throat. David leaned over Nancy's face. The... Do No Harm . Copyright © by Gregg Hurwitz. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Do No Harm by Gregg Hurwitz All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.