Fiction Review: Michael E. Glasscock III’s “The Trial of Dr. Kate”

At just over 200 pages, everything about this book is fast. The characters, their conflicts and resolutions, the relationships that intertwine throughout the book – all of them carry forward at a rapid pace. On the other hand, however, this is also a book that lingers, it takes a while to digest once finished.

Dr. Kate may be in the title, and on the front cover, but she is only a backdrop to a fascinating and thorough character study of her friend Shenandoah Coleman. This is an amusing twist, as Kate’s trial is to determine her true nature and character. We learn much about Shenandoah, from her childhood living outside of Round Rock, all the way through her time as a pilot in the war  and college education, to her current position as a reporter for the Memphis Express. The exposition of her life is done in a mixture of flashbacks and conversations with residents of the town. I felt it was done well, and naturally blended into the overarching plot so as to enhance the flavor. As she is going around town interviewing people, we are able to see varying walks of life and the stories that come with them, without it coming across as contrived.

I appreciated the character creation as well. Each person we meet is distinctive, making this tale stand apart from the generic “grocer, banker, millwright, schoolteacher, doctor” one finds in other stories set in rural towns. A lady doctor, a young man with developmental handicaps, a smuggler who drives a tricked-out car – these are not characters you normally come across in a period piece such as this.

Even so, this is a period piece that is done well, and carries some surprises with it.

In keeping with the unconventional characters, the author made some interesting choices with plot. Every single thread of the story ends in an unexpected twist. A bold choice, which when done right, as Mr. Glasscock has, can be good, and original. But is also quite a shock to any reader who is expecting a certain “Point A to Point B” ride through the story.

Even with the atypical slant to the work, it stays true to itself, and the reader can believe it all. A nice, quick read that I would recommend to those looking for something that breaks the mold.

I received a review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

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