Effectively disturbing books, both non-fiction exposÃ‰s and fictional thrillers, have dealt with the wayward practice of lobotomy--but this little melodrama, alternately mushy and shrill, makes the least of a frightening subject. It's June, 1945 in Washington, D.C.; at Betsy Ross Memorial Hospital more and more lobotomies are being performed on mentally damaged servicemen by ambitious, sneaky Dr. Waiter Toomey (based on a real-life M.D., we're told, whose ""ice pick is in a medical museum""). And the latest guinea-pig prospect to catch Dr. Toomey's eye is Air Corps casualty Lewis Wistar, suffering from amnesia and hysterical paralysis of the legs. But then Lewis' sister, Major Felicia of the WAACs, arrives in town--and though she's initially responsive to Dr. Toomey's plans for Lewis (whose condition unnerves the already shaky, migraine-suffering Felicia), she soon gets a glimpse of the zombie-esque, violent lobotomy failures in the hospital. So, despite the pro-Toomey attitude of new RAF lover Douglass Kelly, Felicia tries to rescue Lewis from the hospital--a doomed expedition which leads to the violent, horror-movie-style finale, with the lobotomy-monsters killing their Dr. Frankenstein. A solid scenario for tension and goose-bumps? Perhaps. But first-novelist Baldwin grinds away at the kernel of suspense here with moist, pulpy prose--as Felicia quivers and whimpers her way through each emotion. And the lobotomy/Toomey evil, instead of being allowed to speak for itself, is cartoonishly overstated, with heavyhanded sarcasm that lapses into outright, inept lecturing: ""The venial emotional problems that Lewis had were like the gentle rain compared with the subtle disease that results when the mortal intellect disrupts the emotions. . . . It is the disease of the compassionless; it was Hitler's disease; and unknown to Felicia, it was Toomey's disease as well."" Aside from a couple of grisly, graphically described procedures, then: a noisy but limp affair.