Cover image for The laws of invisible things
The laws of invisible things
Huyler, Frank, 1964-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : H. Holt, [2004]

Physical Description:
301 pages ; 25 cm
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In this suspenseful and finely wrought first novel, a young doctor's encounter with a mysterious disease leads him to a crossroads between faith and reason Not long into Michael Grant's first year in his new practice, a young girl in his care unexpectedly dies. He might not have been able to change that outcome, but he didn't do all in his power to prevent it, either. So when Michael is asked to take on the dead girl's father as a patient, he feels he must oblige the family's wishes. Examining the man, Michael notices an unusual pattern-a white, serpentine spiral-on the back of the throat and in his eye. Butbefore a diagnosis can be made, the man is dead, the victim of a mysterious fire, and soon Michael himself is experiencing symptoms of the strange illness.Believing that he has stumbled across a new disease but unable to convince his skeptical colleagues, Michael sets out to gather evidence. His quest takes him into a wilderness of disease, religion, and mystery, and becomes a journey that leads him to question not only his belief in the order of the world but his own place and purpose within it.Lyrical, poetic, and utterly engrossing, The Laws of Invisible Things fully delivers on the promise of Frank Huyler's critically acclaimed collection of medical stories, The Blood of Strangers .

Author Notes

Frank Huyler is an emergency physician living in Santa Fe, New Mexico. His poetry has appeared in "The Atlantic Monthly," "The Georgia Review," "Poetry," & other publications.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

In his first novel, emergency physician Huyler presents Michael Grant, an internist and infectious disease specialist in private practice, who is drawn into circumstances that cause him to rethink his decision to be a doctor. He works with Ronald Gass, whose North Carolina practice he hopes to take over upon Gass' retirement. In the meantime, he is still reeling from the loss of an eight-month-old patient whose death, if not inevitable, was certainly avoidable. He receives a call from the patient's grandfather, the Reverend Thomas Williams, and after he and Williams visit the child's grave, Williams takes a liking to him and asks whether he would be kind enough to examine Williams' son,onas, the child's father. After two appointments, blood labs, and a biopsy, Grant can't detect anything but feels he's on the verge of discovering some previously unknown disease. Thenonas dies in a fire. With solid characterization and crisp dialogue, Huyler has fashioned a timely parable about what it means to be a physician. --Donna Chavez Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Chilling, subdued and scalpel sharp, this debut novel by the physician author of The Blood of Strangers (1999)-a highly acclaimed collection of starkly realistic short stories set in the world of medicine-explores the hazy borderlines of sin and disease. Just out of training, 35-year-old Michael Grant is in his seventh month of practice with an established internist in a medium-sized North Carolina city when the young granddaughter of an African-American minister dies in his care. Because he thinks he might have been less than thorough in handling the case, he agrees to honor the minister's request to examine his son-the dead girl's father-who is also ailing. The exam reveals a curious white tendril-like pattern on the back of the patient's throat and inside his eye. Regrettably, before he has enough lab work to make a diagnosis, the patient quickly worsens and dies in a house fire. When Michael begins to experience similar symptoms and almost dies, too, he is convinced he has encountered an insidious new infectious disease. Unable to convince his colleagues, the disease-ravaged Michael embarks with Nora, his senior partner's daughter, on a quest to identify the nameless scourge. Evidence leads Michael to exhume the body of the elderly minister's granddaughter, and the trail takes them to a remote mountaintop. Deftly plotted and rich with psychological and ethical nuance, this fine debut succeeds equally as medical suspense novel and understated morality play. (Apr. 2) Forecast: The medical thriller is a well-established genre, but literary novels with medical themes are rarer. Readers who enjoy the essays of Abraham Verghese and Atul Gawande will find Huyler takes a similar tack in fictional form. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Emergency-medicine physician Huyler is also a poet and the author of the excellent essay collection The Blood of Strangers: Stories from Emergency Medicine. His first novel focuses on Michael Grant, a newly divorced doctor who has just moved to North Carolina and joined the practice of widower Ronald Gass, a much older physician. Grant's lonely personal life is soon in turmoil as it intersects with the black Williams family. Soon after his arrival, Grant treats the granddaughter of Rev. Thomas Williams; the little girl dies, probably due to an oversight by Grant. As a favor to the minister, Grant agrees to see his son Jonas, the girl's father, who has bizarre symptoms that Grant thinks may indicate a previously unknown disease; Gass is skeptical, almost scornful of this idea. Within days, Gass dies of natural causes, Jonas is dead from the disease, and Grant himself is hospitalized with the same symptoms. Huyler combines the melodramatic elements of a medical thriller with rich characters and the same fine writing and eye for telling details he demonstrated in his first book. In the process, he explores doctor fallibility, race relations, and the limits of both faith and reason. Recommended wherever good medical fiction is popular.-A.J. Wright, Univ. of Alabama at Birmingham Lib. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.