The Thanatos Syndromw Author:Walker Percy Dr. Tom More: "For some time now I have noticed that something strange is occurring in our region. I have noticed it both in patients I have treated and in ordinary encounters with people." His region is the parish of Feliciana, Louisiana, where he was born and bred. Now on parole in the custody of fellow doctors Bob Comeaux and Max Gottlieb, Dr... more ». Tom proceeds cautiously. The unusual sexual behavior in some women patients, their bizarre movements and loss in inhibition (presenting themselves rearward) puzzle him. He is also surprised by the extraordinary new success at bridge tournaments of his wife, Ellen; her mind now seems to have computer-like qualities.
With the ingenious help of his attractive cousin, Dr. Lucy Lipscomb, an epidemiologist, he not only uncovers a criminal experiment to "improve" behavior in the area, through the secret use of drugs in the water supply, but he stumbles on a ring of child molesters at Belle-Ame, where his children have been sent. On top of this, he is assigned the difficult problem of treating Father Simon Smith, head of a hospice, who has immured himself in a fire tower and refuses to come down.
The Thanatos Syndrome is a profoundly serious and often very funny novel which scans American culture like radar. Walker Percy has been called "our cool Dostoevsky," and an interlude in the novel entitled "Father Smith's Confession"--which demonstrates how easily evil is committed by people by people convinced that they are doing what is right and good--reinforces his claim to this title. Dr, Tom More, "an old- fashioned physician of the soul" is his seedy seersucker suit, is the life-affirming hero of this splendid novel about life over death.« less