cover image The Physician's Tale

The Physician's Tale

Ann Benson, . . Delacorte, $24 (514pp) ISBN 978-0-385-33505-8

At the start of Benson's stirring fourth thriller to interweave past and near future (after 2002's The Thief of Souls ), a bioterror attack by a cabal of fundamentalists known as the Coalition has decimated the U.S., and scattered bands of survivors struggle to keep going. The action then shifts from 21st-century America to 14th-century Europe, where the black death continues to ravage England and France. In both periods, Benson illuminates the challenges, physical and moral, that disease poses to her heroes—Dr. Janie Crowe in the near future, and Dr. Alejandro Canches in the past—as they each attempt to protect their loved ones and stay true to their professional ethics. While the plot twist connecting the two eras may strike some as a bit much, readers will be pleasantly reminded of similar works by P.D. James and John Christopher. (Nov.)