SCALPEL by Horace McCoy


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Some moral and professional realignment here as Colonel Tom Owen returns from a successful and gratifying surgical career, in Europe under Patton, to the stigma that is attached to his family and its generations of miners. Coalville, Pa., is aroused and ready for trouble because of his brother Lloyd, who had married into society and been the cause, not only of his own death, but a serious mine disaster. Tom is ready to separate himself from his background, latches on to the chance to make the coal empire pay for his medical services, gets a worthwhile sponsoring from Helen, thrice-divorced daughter of the old coal baron and is made when he deals peremptorily with the dowager empress' strangulated intestine. Believing his surgery is sheer luck and that his scrub nurse, Lasher, is part of the charm, he discovers it is really genius when she leaves him to operate again without her presence. Almost secure in his knowledge that his ability is real, he is further awakened to the hollowness of his goals when, in doing an amputation during a mine cave-in, he tosses social prestige aside for the chance to teach at Harvard. Detailed anatomy, both medical and psychological, for a reassessment of values is glamorized with a certain cinematic knowledge.

Pub Date: June 23rd, 1952
Publisher: Appleton-Century-Crofts