Briefly Noted: Who'll Stop the Pain?


Remedies (Putnam) is a compelling, gracefully written novel about a troubled marriage between a middle-aged Baltimore internist and a public relations specialist who are haunted by the death of their first child and flummoxed by the hostility of their second.

The conflict between drug control and pain control plays an important part in the story. The author, Kate Ledger (whom I know from high school), vividly portrays a grandiose, ethically vain, but well-meaning doctor who gets into trouble because he is naive enough to believe his patients' interests should come before his role as a conscripted soldier in the war on drugs. The book shows how easily doctors with that attitude can be tarred as "pill mill" operators by police, prosecutors, and the press simply because they listen compassionately to their patients and try to help them.