Review by Joey Madia
Authors, publishers, story analysts, reviewers, and readers often speak about a book being a “real page-turner.” Rarely do we elaborate on what that means. To me, having decades of experience in these areas, it’s about two things: (1) posing and answering Big Questions (without doing so too quickly), and immediately posing (and answering) new ones and (2) taking full advantage of the human mind’s tendency to think in terms of inevitability.
In the case of Arthur Herbert’s page-turner (I got up early or stayed up late most days while reading it), The Cuts that Cure, the inevitabilities lie in the trajectories of the individual characters (based on their considerable flaws) and on how masterfully Herbert keeps storylines separate and motivations secret for so long. That’s precisely how the posing and answering of Big Questions also serve to keep the reader engaged.
The opening scene finds the protagonist, Dr. Alex Brantley, “deep in the weeds,” in writer’s parlance. A highly skilled surgeon, he works exhausting hours, is up to his eyeballs in college loans, and is navigating the destruction of his marriage. After saving a life that a less skilled surgeon might have lost, Alex wants nothing more than to go home and hang up his doctor’s coat. Fate, however, intervenes. He is summoned to attend to a child who is the victim of obvious and brutal parental abuse. Understandably (and our understanding of how good people can do less than good things is key in this novel), Alex loses control, which serves as the inciting incident, leading him to the position of “stranger in a strange land” or taking the first step in the Hero’s Journey—Separation. Continue reading