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Ron Turker
The Wandering Jew of St. Salacious
Ron Turker, author

Adult; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Market)

Dr. Martin Fischer, an agnostic Jewish surgeon, and white-coated Quixote, tilts his scalpel at the bloated underbelly of U.S. healthcare and fights for his patients. Thrust from his beloved University Hospital, where he has cared for the underserved, he lands in an upscale Catholic hospital, where this doctor meets dogma and soon falls for the CEO. A nun, for God’s sake. His only weapons are surgical skill and a pesky sense of righteous indignation that’s driving everyone nuts—including Marty. As he takes on a callous multi-billion-dollar medical corporation, a mercenary surgical group, and the thoroughly corrupt CFO of St. Salacious, an unplanned pregnancy threatens to excommunicate the entire hospital. Can they really do that? It’s either stress or God who intervenes. Did Jesus just wink at him from the cross?
Plot/Idea: 9 out of 10
Originality: 10 out of 10
Prose: 9 out of 10
Character/Execution: 9 out of 10
Overall: 9.25 out of 10


Plot/Idea: Readers are first introduced to Dr. Martin Fischer as his research lab is losing funding and support. Marty finds himself accepting a familiar position at St. Salonge Hospital–a place known to serve the wealthiest patients. As he transitions into an environment of big money, power, and egotism, he faces ethical questions.

Prose: Turker's prose is infused with delightfully dry humor and witty exchanges between characters, while the novel also doesn't shy from focusing on the woes of modern medicine in America. 

Originality: Turker brings a unique perspective to the medical industry by focusing on a passionate and well-meaning doctor who takes on corruption while also experiencing some of the benefits. 

Character/Execution: Much of the project's appeal stems from the good-natured relationships built between Marty and everyone at St. Salonge. Marty himself is a truly endearing, well-rounded character with fears, joys, desires, and developed opinions. A reader will trust his narration and his intentions. Other characters are provided with meaningful development as well, particularly Ralph and Sara. 

Date Submitted: August 22, 2023

Turker’s debut is as sharp as the surgeon’s scalpel and jolting as a defibrillator. After he finds himself out of a job from University Hospital, Dr. Martin “Marty” Fischer gets accepted, of all places, into St. Salacious, a hospital that, in spite of its Jesus iconography and literal hall of nuns, is renowned for its scandals involving the staff’s orgies, wife-swapping, and other instances of passionate debauchery. As an agnostic Jew entering a Catholic institution, he’s trepidatious, but he quickly finds himself befriending a staff that’s charmed by his compassion, wit, and what his best friend calls “that cute Fischer smile, and those big-brown puppy eyes.” One woman in particular catches his eye—Sister Catherine, both nun and CEO. But after a literal blind night of passion and finding himself in the metaphorical crosshairs of both a mercenary medical group and the diocese, Marty is determined to let his morals rather than his faith speak to the masses.

As a healthcare provider himself, Turker’s experience in the American healthcare system shines throughout, both in memorable incidental detail and surprising-but-convincing plot points that center on the shark-like nature of donors or patients whose hateful natures demand healthcare providers work doubly hard on their bedside manners. One scene finds Marty giving care to a neo-Nazi, and discovering that his conception of the Hippocratic oath has limits; meanwhile, a bishop is eager to “rid St. Salacious of Marty’s ‘taco-crowd’ have-nots, [and] Sister Catherine’s meddlesome oversight.” This sometimes dark material is handled a fiery wit that keeps the pages turning.

Turker’s own compassion powers the novel, the satire more outraged than outrageous. As he faces religious fervor, bigotry, and good old-fashioned greed in a succession of compelling scenes with whip-smart dialogue, Marty becomes one of the rare voices of compassion and courage in a system that consistently has cared more about the dollar value than the care provided. As Marty becomes a catalyst for change, readers of thoughtful literary fiction, no matter their faith or lack thereof, will find this polished novel’s observations darkly comforting—eventually even hopeful—in the face of rising intolerance and a national health crisis.

Takeaway: Stellar novel of a Jewish doctor bringing change to a corrupt Catholic hospital.

Comparable Titles: Yan Lianke’s Heart Sutra, Kyle Bradford Jones’s Hospital!.

Production grades
Cover: B
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A