Another Review at MyShelf.Com

First, Do No Harm

by Larry Karp

      Software designer Martin Firestone finds himself having to take a second job to pay the bills. He enjoys working in a hospital so much that he decides he wants to go to medical school. But his father, successful artist Leo Firestone, sees red. Leo would rather his son do anything but become a doctor. Martin knows nothing about his grandfather, Samuel, who turns out to have been a doctor himself, and quite famous in his day. Over lunch in a restaurant Leo tells his son about the events of 1943 when he was an extern for his father and about the murder investigation he embarked on with the help of the girl next door... 

Mystery lovers resident in the UK have much to rejoice about, as American mystery publishers Poisoned Pen Press have opened a branch in Britain. Now all those excellent books are suddenly available to be enjoyed by a whole new audience, and this tale of dark secrets and lost innocence is a superb choice for my first PPPUK review. It is the sort of tale that sucks the reader into a maelstrom of its own, a well realized world, set in 1943, that shows the author’s admirable grasp of the time, its mores and taboos. Leo worships his father, but finds out more about him and his attitude to life than he wants to know. He turns investigator, but everything he does shows up his naiveté and lack of knowledge of the way the real world works. It is one of those books that seems to have the power to transport the reader back into the past, and, thankfully, also has the power to show it warts and all. Told in the first person by Leo in flashbacks, and alternatively by his son (in a conveniently different typeface) as they eat their lunch it gives two views of the world in first person, and effectively another one in the towering persona of Dr Martin Firestone.

Larry Karp also wrote The Ragtime Kid (also reviewed on this site) and I can only hope that he will go on to write a whole lot more. Highly recommended.

The Book

Poisoned Pen Press (UK edition)
September 2006
Historical Crime - 1943 - New Jersey, USA
More at US || UK
NOTE: Not a cozy

The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2006
© 2006