By Thom Geier
Updated January 25, 2008 at 05:00 AM EST

For his new novel, The Anatomy of Deception, Lawrence Goldstone invents an agreeable young hero, Dr. Ephraim Carroll, and plunks him into a murder mystery in 1889 Philadelphia that shows nearly every scrap of the author’s copious research. The story is packed with historical asides (the introduction of surgical gloves, as well as aspirin) and real-life figures, from artist Thomas Eakins to medical pioneers like William Stewart Halsted, a surgeon who became a cocaine addict. But Goldstone, coauthor of several nonfiction books, saddles his characters with dialogue as wooden as a hansom carriage. The result is less Eakins, more paint-by-numbers. B