Dr. Cooper, the eminent neurosurgeon who has also written about the management of disease, now deals with the intervention of-a doctor in the death of an old friend. Dr. Carter promised Louis Morell that his time would come painlessly and at home after Morell contracted amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a progressive and inevitably fatal condition more familiarly known as Lou Gehrig's disease. But during a crisis his wife and faithful servitor send Morell to the hospital where an eager resident performs a tracheotomy and puts him on a respirator. Carter comes quickly to Morell's bedside and pulls the plug. At least half of this book is concerned with Carter's subsequent trial--did Carter commit murder or would the disease have killed Morell in any case? This permits Dr. Cooper to thoroughly present the medical and religious aspects so much in the news. Where the novel is more original is in discussing the side effects of hopeless illness on those closest to the victim (the alienation, recoil, guilt--natural responses in Morell's wife). Throughout the author's intentions are both informed and sincere but expository to a degree the format cannot quite withstand.