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In this third volume of Scottish hospital-life vignettes, Dr. Douglas seems to be playing down the satire and black-comedy in favor of straightforward, even mildly heroic, case-by-case crises. The author's alter ego, Dr. David Campbell, is now senior house officer in the Casualty Department of the Edinburgh Institute; and he starts off by rescuing a Glasgow Pakistani who's trapped in the front seat of a wrecked van loaded with exotic knick-knacks and (as the police later inform David) marijuana. This fellow eventually dies, however--Douglas may be mellowing but he hasn't gone sentimental--as does an elderly cat-loving spinster who has an anesthesia-induced coronary while David is repairing her minor wrist fracture. And there's an awful case of a car-wreck couple, both with broken backs, while somewhat less tragic visitors to the Emergency Room include a social disease-carrier and a teenage would-be suicide (tormented by her father's incestuous attentions) who requires a most unpleasant stomach-washing. As for narrative thread, three mini-plots pop up here and there with only the slightest cumulative effect: David's off-and-on affair with a married colleague; the insecurities (and ultimate suicide) of an Asian doctor facing vital exams; and the dictatorial Head Nurse's campaign to force doctors to buy their own milk for tea. Authentic as can be, with a couple of riveting blood-sweat-and-panic sequences; but, even with Douglas' wry stretcher-side manner, the emergency-room patchwork is far too sketchy to hold any but the most medically inclined (and strong-stomached) readers.

Pub Date: Sept. 5th, 1979
Publisher: Taplinger