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Mr. Pratt's Patients: 07/11/14
Mr. Pratt's Patients by Joseph C. Lincoln is a fish out of water story. Pratt is a man down on his luck and needing work. His life has been at sea and now he's forced to modernize with the rest of the town and takes a job at a local health spa.
There are basically three acts to this book: Pratt learning his new job, Pratt goofing off, and Pratt uncovering the truth behind the spa. At first glance, the spa while alien to a man used to working on a ship, appears to be doing good. The short term guests swear by the doctor's good works. Everyone is in white and it all looks very hygienic.
It also looks boring as all get out and Mr. Pratt has reached a point in his life where he doesn't just take someone's word on something. He decides years and years of living at sea have taught him that there are other ways of doing things too. He also comes across long time friends also washed ashore here, so to speak. It is here that Lincoln through Pratt explores the ways Massachusetts was being forced to find new industries as the traditional shipping and fishing industries changed due to steam and over fishing. These themes are revisited more effectively in A. Hall & Co.
Finally there's the tying up of lose ends. Pratt uncovers secrets, reunites long lost lovers, plays match maker for new pairs of lovers, and basically leaves his stamp on all parts of the town. These Lincoln books always end on a sentimental note and usually with a romance or two.
This one, though, with it's bizarre set up (ex-sailor becomes health spa orderly) and the vast number of reversals, romances, and scandals, made me imagine Adam Sandler as Mr. Pratt. That's not too far afield, since he did do a re-make of Mr. Deeds from Clarence B. Kelland's book. Frankly I'd love to see Sandler tackle one of Lincoln's books.