by Neil Ravin ‧ RELEASE DATE: April 29, 1983
Again, as in M.D. (1981), Dr. Ravin offers an episodic, gritty, dark-humored, but never-implausible parade of medical procedures, nightmares, and issues--with just enough bits of personal plot to provide momentary relief from the grue and the technicalities. His hero this time is young Dr. Brophy, a fellow at University Hospital in Providence, where clinical research often seems to take priority over healing. (The Clinical Research Unit can't afford an electrocardiogram machine--but the library has ten Xerox machines.) So Brophy will feel some conflict, and some horror, as he joins in collecting data from patients for a couple of research projects involving calcium--especially since colleague Duncan is absolutely maniacal in his search for appropriate subjects. ("" 'We're never going to get enough tumor,' Duncan moaned."") Meanwhile, however, while Brophy wrestles with the matter of ""informed consent"" (a particularly nasty issue when dealing with the dying, the pain-wracked), the focus keeps returning to one particular case: lawyer Lars Magnussen, who's suspicious of doctors, starts out with an operation for the terrible pain of a hernia; his calcium levels then attract the interest of the researchers; then a thyroid nodule (which Brophy, to his shame, somehow missed) appears, apparently malignant; but finally the doctors realize that Lars has a pheochromocytoma--a realization that leads to a complex series of procedures, Lars becoming a convert to modern medicine in the process. Most of the cases are not so upbeat, however. And Brophy's romantic life is periodically dropped in to no great effect: there's a serious, problematic affair with old flame Clarissa, a nurse-midwife (and a friend of Lars' wife); and there's a passing fling with ambitious newswoman Lynn, who's determined to expose the research-unit abuses--and winds up throwing mud atone of the few cases where there was truly informed consent. . . and happy results too. Despite Ravin's lean, neat, lively style, then: awfully grim stuff, if never as heart-rending as some of M.D.--but the best bet around for fiction readers who want no holds barred when it comes to autopsies, operations, lab-work, technology, and everyday hospital realities.
Pub Date: April 29, 1983
Page Count: -
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1983
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