The Myriad Faces of Medical Fiction

We doctors are privileged.  In a culture that deals more and more with surface and sheen and falsity, we in our offices and house calls and surgeries are present with the deep, hard truth comes out at crucial moments of our patients’ lives.  The great themes of fiction are love and death.  Death is always a theme in medicine. So too, I would argue, in its many spirits, is love.  And one of those spirits is resistance to inhumanity, and injustice, Love and death.  How lucky we are.   (The Atlantic, 11-29-12)

The author is Samuel Shemm, author of The House of God, a favorite novelist of an earlier era.  His is the view of a medical practitioner, several of whom have found time to write of their experiences on the frontlines of a rapidly evolving medical profession.

The world of medical fiction does include a host of medical practitioners, including the media medic Sanjay Gupta, and the prolific Robin Cook who blends his medical training at Harvard with wide popularity as master of the art of medical fiction.

On the other hand, English major Patricia Cornwell has turned her literary hand at several works of medical fiction.  And Ken Kesey, whose background is too complex to captured, created a fictional view of therapeutic confinement that is etched on the mind of anyone who ever read or saw One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Next. 

And then there is Sarah Orne Jewett whose 1884 novel, A Country Doctor.  gently reveals the life of a Maine woman faced with a decision between life as a physician and a more traditional path as wife and mother.

These and scores of other works of medical fiction will be on open exhibit at the Minneapolis Central Library for the next several weeks.  Ruthann Ovenshire, organizer of the exhibit, has prepared an extensive list of medical fiction titles pulled from the library’s circulating shelves.  The books on display change weekly so the reading possibilities are in continuous flux

Medicine men  / Alice Adams. 1997

Safe haven / Hannah Alexander.

Chicago / Alaa Al Aswany

The black tower / Louis Bayard.

Doctored evidence / Michael Biehl.

Moloka’i / Alan Brennert.

Long for this world / Michael Byers.

Riley’s fire / Lee Merrill Byrd.

Healer / Carol Wiley Cassella.

Deep Storm / Lincoln Child.

Blue Italian / Rita Ciresi.

Critical condition / Peter Clement.

The inquisitor / Peter Clement.

Over the edge / Brandilyn Collins.

Acceptable risk / by Robin Cook. 1994

Chromosome 6 / Robin Cook.  1997

Contagion / Robin Cook. 1995

Crisis / Robin Cook.

Critical / Robin Cook.

Cure / Robin Cook.

Death benefit / Robin Cook.

Foreign body / Robin Cook.

Intervention / Robin Cook.

Seizure / Robin Cook.

Shock / Robin Cook.

Toxin / Robin Cook.1998

The bone bed / Patricia Cornwell.

Running the maze / Jack Coughlin

Next / Michael Crichton.

Himalayan dhaba / Craig Joseph Danner.

Mind catcher / John Darnton.

The heart break pill / Anjanette Delgado.

Die once live twice / Lawrence Dorr.

The journals of Eleanor Druse / Druse, Eleanor

The moon in the mango tree / Pamela Binnings Ewen.

Lie still: a novel of suspense / David Farris.

Code blue / Nancy Fisher.

Heart seizure / Bill Fitzhugh.

The good doctor / Damon Galgut.

Legacy Road / Graham Garrison.

Ice cold / Tess Gerritsen.

The keepsake  / Tess Gerritsen.

The anatomy of deception / Lawrence Goldstone.

Get a life / Nadine Gordimer.

Daughters of war / Hilary Green.

The house of sight and shadow / Nicholas Griffin.

Monday mornings / Sanjay Gupta.

Angel of Harlem / Kuwana Haulsey.

Race for the dying / Steven F. Havill.

A hard death / Jonathan Hayes.

Precious blood / Jonathan Hayes.

The laws of invisible things / Frank Huyler.

Right of thirst / Frank Huyler.

Absolute fear / Lisa Jackson.

A country doctor / Sarah Orne Jewett

The Trudeau vector / Juris Jurjevics.

Blood lies / Daniel Kalla.

Of flesh and blood / Daniel Kalla.

Midnight plague / Gregg Keizer.

Trouble / Jesse Kellerman

Wrongful death / Baine Kerr.

One flew over the cuckoo’s nest / Ken Kesey.

The mystery of breathing / Perri Klass.

Catching babies / by J.D. Kleinke.

Disturb : and others / J. A. Konrath.

All I’ll ever need / Harry Kraus.

Could I have this dance? / Harry Kraus

Lethal mercy / Harry Lee Kraus, Jr. 1997

Beloved physician / Al & JoAnna Lacy.

Bloodletting & miraculous cures / Vincent Lam.

Fatal memories  / Vladimir Lange.

The oath / John Lescroart.

The subject Steve / Sam Lipsyte.

Diagnosis death / Richard L. Mabry.

Magic Mountain, Thomas Mann

On, off / Colleen McCullough.

To the bone / Neil McMahon.

Doctor Olaf van Schuler’s brain / Kirsten Menger-Anderson.

The office of desire / Martha Moody.

A city not forsaken / Lynn Morris.

In the twilight, in the evening / Lynn Morris.

Secret place of thunder / Lynn Morris.

There is a season / Lynn Morris

Toward the sunrising / Lynn Morris.

Where two seas met / Lynn Morris

Gargoyles / Alan Nayes.

1940 / Jay Neugeboren.

Transplanted man / Sanjay Nigam.

My name is Mary Sutter / Robin Oliveira.

Critical judgment / Michael Palmer. 1996

Fatal / Michael Palmer.

The fifth vial / Michael Palmer.

The first patient / Michael Palmer.

The last surgeon / Michael Palmer.

Miracle cure / Michael Palmer. 1998

Oath of office / Michael Palmer.

The patient / Michael Palmer.

The second opinion / Michael Palmer.

Silent treatment / Michael Palmer. 1995

The society / Michael Palmer.

Public anatomy / A. Scott Pearson.

Handle with care / Jodi Picoult.

The last Nazi / Stan Pottinger.

The good remains / Nani Power.

The donor / Frank M. Robinson.

An imperfect lens / Anne Roiphe.

Everything hurts / Bill Scheft.

To feel stuff / Andrea Seigel.

The cure / David Shobin.

Rescue / Anita Shreve.

So much for that / Lionel Shriver.

A measure of mercy / Lauraine Snelling.

The price / Alexandra Sokoloff.

Flawless / Joshua Spanogle.

Isolation ward / Joshua Spanogle.

Father Michael’s lottery / Johan Steyn.

Walk like a man / Sue Swift.

Bad faith / Robert K. Tanenbaum.

The disagreement / Nick Taylor.

A Dublin student doctor / Patrick Taylor.

Direct red  / Gabriel Weston.

Critical conditions / Stephen White.

In the flesh / by Christa Wolf

When Nietzsche wept / Irvin D. Yalom.


Disaster status / Candace Calvert.

Escape from the Badlands / Dana Mentink.

Tying the knot / Susan May Warren.

Science Fiction

The speed of dark / Elizabeth Moon.

The Bradbury report / Steven Polansky.

Final diagnosis / James White.  1997

Mind changer / James White. 1998


Flesh and bone / Jefferson Bass.

Trace evidence / Elizabeth Becka.

Unknown means / Elizabeth Becka.

Book of the dead / Patricia Cornwell.

Cause of death / Patricia Cornwell.

Port mortuary / Patricia Cornwell.

Red mist / Patricia Cornwell.

Scarpetta / Patricia Cornwell.

The Scarpetta factor / Patricia Cornwell.

Anarchy and old dogs / Colin Cotterill.

Slash and burn / Colin Cotterill.

Vanish / Tess Gerritsen.

Crosshairs / Harry Hunsicker.

A perilous conception / Larry Karp.

Sick rich / D.P. Lyle.

The 5th horseman / James Patterson

Some cuts never heal / Timothy Sheard.

The cure for remembering / Ruth E. Weissberger.




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