When the Music Stops by John T. Fuller
I love books that make me feel like a hypocrite. When the Music Stops is most definitely one of those books.
There is a line between doctor and patient that is never to be breached. That line becomes even more solidly defined when the patient is incapable of speaking for himself, making decisions for himself, providing for his own wellbeing, but that is exactly the line that’s crossed in John T. Fuller’s perfectly compelling, atmospheric, and provocative story of Daniel Archer, a physician at Link Hill mental institution.
Mr. White is the young man who unwittingly instigates the doctor’s slow decent toward perdition, in this tale that questions what is moral and what is right when sexual attraction toward a patient crosses the line into sexual action. Where is the line drawn between compassion and ethical conduct, restraint and desire? Is a man capable of consent when he may not understand what’s being asked of him? Does it matter if the doctor is motivated by love and mercy for a young man who is incapable of defending himself, especially when it’s in defense of those who would seek to maim him in the name of science?
If this were a real world situation—a doctor pursuing a psychologically impaired patient—I’m not sure I could look at it so charitably, but in When the Music Stops all I could do was to stand behind Dr. Archer and watch and hope that he could touch Mr. White both emotionally and physically, to draw the man out of himself and to let love heal the young man’s broken mind. I couldn’t react any other way because the author drew me into the story and made these characters and their challenges real and sympathetic, even though I questioned my feelings the entire way through. Dr. Archer and Mr. White were complex and magnetic, even though Mr. White didn’t utter more than a single word throughout the story—a single word that came to mean everything to him for the rest of his days with Daniel.
There was a Victorian Gothic feel to the narrative, and the horror was all too real in an asylum where humans played test subjects to all manner of experimentation in the name of curing their afflictions. I loved this historical romance, from its somber beginning all the way to its bittersweet ending.
Buy When the Music Stops HERE.