Dr. Douglas' The Houseman's Tale took Dr. David Campbell through the Scots equivalent of American intern/residency--with a sprinkling of clark wit and light desperation. Now Campbell is splitting his time between seeing hospital patients and doing the grubwork in a dubious research project (something to do with ""faecal proteins"" or ""faecal vitamins,"" depending on who's funding it this week)--and there are fewer laughs to temper the edgy, bitter satire. Among the patients (all female) are a woman who's having a vividly messy time with amoebiasis, a cirrhosis case that dies on the table (""a highly speculative operation at the hands of a surgeon of proverbial unpredictability""), and a mongoloid child who is used as a guinea pig for a wonder drug. . . that kills. And, as before, David halfheartedly runs the sensual gauntlet--an old girlfriend, a weepy technician who tosses out his research while ""cleaning up,"" a married colleague, and a busty researcher who's heavy into the use of bits of diseased organs as love tokens. Not as consistently engaging as the first volume, but equally loose, quick, and vaguely likable.