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by Julie Corbin
Hodder & Stoughton Paperbacks, September 2012
344 pages
7.99 GBP
ISBN: 0340918969

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

When her son's drink is spiked, Dr Olivia Somers is sure it's more than a random attack. And when an intruder paints the word 'murderer' across her living room wall one night, her worst nightmares are confirmed. But why is her family being targeted? With her ex-husband threatening to fight for custody of their two children, Olivia must delve into her past to find the answer, before her family come to any more harm.

Sometimes a writer can follow the rules and still not get it quite right. That's what I thought as I started reading this modern thriller, the third from Scottish author Julie Corbin.

Although it kicks off in the middle of a tense scene Dr Somers has just arrived at the hospital, where her son has been brought in with suspected poisoning the sense of 'what's going to happen next?' that should have been created was somehow lacking.

As I read on, I had moments of wanting to grab a red pen and scratch out whole scenes, which didn't seem to be furthering the story all that much. And it took me quite a while to warm to Olivia, who at times sounded like nothing more than a mouthpiece for the author.

Perhaps it was the present tense style, which I always find a little frustrating. Certainly the first 'memory chapter', set prior to the main action and written in the past tense, had less of the self-conscious feel of previous pages. But then the book started to pick up and my first impressions softened. As the plot developed, and there were a few of those 'oh my goodness' moments that make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, I realised I was finding it harder and harder to put the book down.

The plot is a well conceived one, which builds to an expertly played out conclusion. Although again there was one memory chapter near the end which seemed to slow down the pace, but by then there was a romantic sub-plot always sure to get the reader turning the pages and Olivia had grown on me considerably, so it was easier to let it go.

I don't want to be too critical, because overall I did enjoy this book. Yes, I wish it had gone through the hands of a slightly more ruthless editor, but there was a lot of good in it too. DO ME NO HARM isn't the best thriller I've ever read, but it's far from being the worst.

Rin Simpson is a Bristol-based freelance writer and long standing crime fiction fan who is currently working on her first novel.

Reviewed by Rin Simpson, September 2012

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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