My rating: 1 of 5 stars
i never thought i’d read (or in this case, listen to) a whole book in which nobody uses a contraction. no “shouldn’t”, no “don’t”, no “isn’t”. like, srsly, who the fuck talks like that all the time?
this book follows the adventures of a young doctor practicing a bit after the end of the Civil War. lots of exciting new developments in medicine are happening–sterilization of surgical instruments (and surgeon’s hands), surgical clamps are being used to stop bleeding rather than a horde of medical students’ hands, autopsy as a way of life. our starry-eyed gent is in with his hero and mentor, and it looks like they’re on their way to the newly-opened Johns Hopkins to Advance Medical Science.
the mystery in this book isn’t terribly difficult to figure out, and the author is careful to repeat for you (ad nauseum) all the clues up to each point (it begins to feel like those idiotic summary notes at the back of textbook chapters. maybe next time he should include some study goals at the beginning, too). that leaves watching the development of medical science as a thing to hold the reader’s interest, but again, we just get: wow! carbolic soap! gee whiz, aspirin!
if you read a book like The Ghost Map, you get to see science develop along with the understanding of the times, and damn if it isn’t exciting. but in this book… well, there’s a lot of telling about the whiz-bang new developments, but somehow it all falls flat.
plus there’s the dead girl who starts the book off. while i hate to spoiler anything for ya, in this case i must: she dies of a back-alley abortion. at the end of the book, another guy is murdered in prison. our protag, having fitted together the clues, is in a position to tell the cops all so that some kind of justice is served. and then he punts.
there’s a long peroration at the end of the book about whether not telling the cops is the right thing to have done. the original perp is a righteously lauded surgeon and developer of life-saving surgical techniques; if he goes to jail, no more lives get saved, and it’s not like he did it on purpose, and anyway that butchered woman isn’t going to come back.
so the protag just dusts off his hands about her and moves on. the protagonist finds it in himself (years later) to grieve at length over the murdered guy, but never much considers the dead woman. and you know? fuck that.
oh! and one more thing–the audio version has the weirdest reader ever. this guy sifted through his repertoire of annoying voices, picked the top 10, and assigned them to the main characters of this book. the Hero Doc, who gets more conversational lines than anybody else in the book, has for some reason been assigned a voice that sounds like an adolescent male duck being partially strangled. it is more deeply annoying than i can relate. the irish maidservant’s brogue keeps falling apart, and the hoodlums all sound like they’re from new jersey.
who the fuck reads that way?