Frank G(ill) Slaughter Richard Match - Essay

Richard Match

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

To use the Hollywood verb, a swamp steals [the story of "Fort Everglades"]. If you've ever driven the length of south Florida's Tamiami Trail, you'll agree that the most terrifying actor in Frank Slaughter's new medico-historical romance is an inanimate one—the Everglades. Even when viewed from a modern highway barely thirty miles west of Miami's glittering pleasure domes, the big bog frightens you a little….

[We] have handsome young Dr. Royal Coe, whilom Army surgeon, Everglades scout extraordinary, and personal friend of the Seminole king. There's a girl at Fort Everglades, too—and, since she's the fiancée of Roy's best friend, he hesitates to make love to her. However, the author wears down such civilized scruples as he projects Roy and Mary into increasingly hazardous situations….

Like all Slaughter heroes, Dr. Coe wields a pretty special scalpel. This time, to keep the case records up-to-date, he amputates a leg, ligates an intercostal artery, and excises an ovarian tumor (non-fibroid type). The author has lost none of his gift for dramatizing surgery—whether he's operating on a moonlit island or in the Seminole chieftain's own palmthatch house, with the whole tribe watching.

Richard Match, "'Glades Doctor'," in The New York Times Book Review (copyright © 1951 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), March 9, 1951, p. 20.