Sandra Block Review—The Girl Without a Name (Questions from Robert J. Ray, The Weekend Novelist Series)
At the climax to The Girl Without a Name, the bad guy confesses. To find out what happens next—what Fate does to the bad guy—you need to read the book. It’s a good read, careful plotting, a smartly designed set of characters. The dialogue is perky, not overloaded with character monologues. No author exposition while the writer uses the writing of the book to locate the story.
The author of The Girl Without a Name is Dr. Sandra Block, a neurologist by trade, well-educated, thoughtful, a careful plotter, who has chosen her native city, Buffalo, New York, as the setting for her series, starring Dr. Zoe Goldman, a hospital resident who enters this book on probation—she’s gotta be nice to her superiors or she could derail her career.
The mystery of this tale is naming the victim with no name, a wounded teenage girl. She enters the hospital as Jane Doe. She goes from Jane Doe to Candy, who conceals an alternate self—are you old enough to remember The Three Faces of Eve?—an alternate self named Daneesha. Candy is sweet and retiring. Daneesha is a tough street kid who provides the writer with some great dialogue lines.
Dr. Zoe Goldman is pure, with an innocent purity that harks back to the Grail Quester, Parzival-Parsifal-Perceval. Not an evil bone in her body. In Block’s contemporary rendering, Dr. Goldman’s purity of motive gives us hope that, despite the errors in diagnosis, the hospital backbiting, and the malevolent evil of the Chief Villain—the protagonist’s goal is for this lost girl to be found, to be nurtured and cared for, to go back home.
To make this pure protagonist-quester-sleuth human, Dr. Block saddles her with a case of ADHD—Attention- Deficit-Hyperactivity-Disorder. At critical moments, our heroine’s brain leaves the tracks, disorganized by ADHD, which she knows well—irony here—because she is a neurologist.
A good read for our time. A great idea for a series.