Do No Harm

Christina McDonald

Quick Synopsis

In a town gripped by the opioid epidemic a doctor is trying to save her son. This thriller asks do the ends justify the means… even for a desperate mother.

Publisher’s Synopsis

Emma loves her life. She’s the mother of a precocious kindergartener, married to her soulmate—a loyal and loving police detective—and has a rewarding career as a doctor at the local hospital.

But everything comes crashing down when her son, Josh, is diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.

Determined to save him, Emma makes the risky decision to sell opioids to fund the life-saving treatment he needs. But when somebody ends up dead, a lethal game of cat and mouse ensues, her own husband leading the chase. With her son’s life hanging in the balance, Emma is dragged into the dark world of drugs, lies, and murder. Will the truth catch up to her before she can save Josh?

Book Review

I have been struggling with how to rate Do No Harm. It is a thought-provoking thriller that explores morality and complicated issues of the opioid epidemic. The novel asks if you are doing something wrong for the right reasons, is it wrong? Do the ends justify the means?

I commend Christina McDonald for writing this book. It is difficult to write a book, particularly a thriller, about a nuanced topic and give all sides a fair shake. I think it was a delicate balancing act that McDonald executed well. The novel was filled with action but still took the time to ask important questions.

For me, the characters did not struggle enough with the moral and ethical questions before taking action. I think a person in their circumstances would have thought about and contended with it more. As someone who is childfree, I also struggled to connect to the decisions the main character had to make. It was not explored enough for me to really connect.

Other than characters I failed to connect with, I think the largest issue with Do No Harm is the plausibility of the plot. This book relied a lot on coincidences and conveniences. You should also note that the characters are not the most likeable. These do not really bother me, but I know they are big issues for others. It is also worth noting that one of the big reveals I figured out right away, but it did not take away from the narrative since I did not predict how it would play out.

Overall, I enjoyed Do No Harm and know that I will continue thinking about this book for awhile. I recommend it, especially for book clubs and buddy reading where you can discuss it with someone else. However, if you have personal experience with opioid misuse or need a completely plausible plot, you may not enjoy this book.


Overall Rating

Rating: 3 out of 5.


Rating: 3 out of 5.


Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Character Development

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Do No Harm


Mysteries & Thrillers

Publication Date
February 16, 2021

Page Count

Storygraph Rating
3.54 stars

Goodreads Rating
3.63 stars

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