Frank G(ill) Slaughter Christine B. Vogel - Essay

Christine B. Vogel

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

There's some good news and some bad news about Doctors at Risk. The good news is that Frank Slaughter thoroughly examines the disturbing subject of "impaired" physicians—victims of alcohol and drug abuse whose number the American Medical Association estimates at one out of every seven doctors. The bad news is that Slaughter seems to have lost his writer's touch and has explored this subject within the confines of a novel that has the thinnest of plots, uninteresting stock characters, and a decided lack of drama….

This is, no doubt, a novel with the noblest of intentions. Slaughter, a doctor himself, is obviously concerned about the dangerous epidemic within his profession. He also seems to take a dim view of society doctors and the for-profit orientation of many hospitals and clinics, portraying these aspects of medicine in a less than favorable light.

The trouble is, these characters never come alive and serve mainly as foils to illustrate too many facts and statistics; they are talking textbooks and case studies who display about as much warmth and dimension as an article from a medical journal.

Despite the shocking subject, Doctors at Risk has little guts and even less heart, precious little to engage the interest of any but the most diehard Slaughter fan.

Christine B. Vogel, in a review of "Doctors at Risk," in Book World—The Washington Post (© 1983, The Washington Post), April 3, 1983, p. 8.