True Medical Detective Stories
by Clifton Meador
The most interesting aspect of this book is the fact that one of Berton Roueché’s stories, “The Man Who Grew Two Breasts” came from a letter published in The New England Journal of Medicine “Gynecomastia From Exposure to Vaginal Estrogen Cream” by the author of this book, Clifton Meador, M.D.
Thankfully, I’ve been a long-time subscriber of NEJM and was able to locate the original missive, which added an extra dimension (as well as having read the original story in Berton Roueché’s later published books) to the story.
That, honestly, was the most interesting part of the book, the rest contained relatively interesting vignettes very similar to those of the previously reviewed book, Stores from the Emergency Room by Mary Beth Engrav, M.D.
The problem is that I feel that these and other authors are trying to emulate Berton Roueché but they are doing a piss-poor job of it. What made his books so compelling were not only the stories and situations but the background of the disease in question, the history of contagion. A much more worthy successor to Berton Roueché is The Deadly Dinner Party: and Other Medical Detective Stories by Jonathan Edlow, M.D., which I shall review when I re-read it (unfortunately, I have it in hardcopy and I’m slowly becoming a serious e-book snob) last this year.
Back to the book, as with Dr. Engrav’s book, this is what I term a snack food book. Great to read but ultimately unfulfilling. If you are looking for a fast, well-written read, this is for you. But if you want something with a bit more substance, you need to look elsewhere or drag out your Berton Roueché collection and dive in.
I give True Medical Detective Stories a solid 3/5 stars and the e-book version was very well done. Thank you CreateSpace for actually caring about the e-book public. Well done!
(Reviewed 05 January, 2014)