Robert A. Burton, Author Soho Press $18.95 (218p) ISBN 978-0-939149-47-6
This promising first novel takes a hard-hitting look at the unsavory side of modern medicine as it charts the moral dilemmas of a committed surgeon who bucks an unresponsive health care system. Like his marriage, Webb Smith's career as a Los Angeles plastic surgeon is in ruins, thanks to an unopened vial of cocaine found in his desk, an unwanted gift forced on him by a patient. His license suspended, Smith treats strep throats and hemorrhoids at Instantcare, a seedy 24-hour clinic. In attending to a boy stabbed by his coke-addicted prostitute mother, Smith, his convictions challenged, will again violate statutes and further imperil his license. His personal life is at loose ends, too, as he embarks on a love affair with Jessica, an insecure jazz pianist, and helps Joe, his only friend, cope with terminal cancer. Burton, a California neurologist, writes with surgical precision about the marketing practices, exorbitant costs and unnecessary operations that blot the practice of medicine. The operating-room scenes are wrenching. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 02/04/1991
Release date: 02/01/1991
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