Frank G(ill) Slaughter Charles Lee - Essay

Charles Lee

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Dr. Slaughter has the tale-spinner's knack in three productive fields: stories drawn from the reservoir of the American past (mostly south of the Mason-Dixon line), with a doctor-protagonist who sums up the dilemmas of his era; stories drawn from the Bible; and stories based on his own modern medical knowledge. His new work, most of which is played out against a backdrop of Park Avenue, surgeon's maisonette and metropolitan operating room, offers his many readers a full measure of anxiety, complication, tears and relief.

"The Healer" is a love story, a medical suspense story and a story of spiritual ordeal and triumph. It contains a hint of murder and a case of barefaced blackmail. It presents a case history in amnesia. It comments on marriage, materialism, integrity and medical idealism. It dramatizes the victories and failures of the operating room. (Its best moments deal with two tingling descriptions of brain surgery.)

The troubled man in the white coat is Dr. Don Carter, a medical Galahad whose virtues are forever involving him in conflicts, with himself, with the four women in his life and with reactionary members of his own profession….

Naturally, everyone is rewarded at the end, except the blackmailers. Just as naturally, this popular author's public will stay with his hero right down to the hard-hitting finale. Gregory Peck will look just fine in Dr. Carter's gloves and crises.

Charles Lee, "Dr. Carter's Dilemmas," in The New York Times Book Review (copyright © 1955 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), January 23, 1955, p. 28.