"The Cadaver of Gideon Wyck" is a Gothic novel-medical thriller with horror elements. Written by Alexander Laing, as "a medical student", I found this novel to be years ahead of its' time, that time being the mid-1930's. Michael Crichton, Robin Cook, and the like, knowingly or unknowingly owe a large debt to Mr. Laing here.
The plot involves this creepy physician, in an out-of-the-way Maine medical school, not one but two psychopaths, a "locked room" murder mystery, "monsters" (the term was once used for babies with severe, disfiguring birth defects)...how can this list NOT make you a bit curious?
The tone of the book is spot-on. Verisimilitude drips from the pages, being liberally sprinkled with medical jargon and footnotes. The atmosphere is mostly one of dread; our narrator, the unfortunate David Saunders, offers bits of humor here and there, getting bone-dry and dark as hell as the book unfolds.
I discovered this novel on a list of classic horror tales...it seems anyone who has read this had enjoyed it. Add me to the list.
I found out that Centipede Press published this, and bought a copy.
For those of you unfamiliar with this small press, your day has just been made. Go check out their website and have your mind blown.
My copy is a luxuriantly bound hardcover, leather on the spine, fabric covered boards. Signed by William Hjortsberg ('Falling Angel", which became the film "Angel Heart"), he writes quite simply one of the best introductions I have ever read...maybe because he writes about discovering the fact this novel was written by his college English professor! Great way to start the book.
There are additional essays at the end, and the Lynd Ward art from the original hardcover is lovingly reproduced.
Read this novel however you can, but consider yourself lucky if you do that with this edition...