The Incurables

  • by Jon Bassoff
  • Narrated by Richard Rieman
  • 6 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The year is 1953. Disgraced in the psychiatric hospital where he'd practiced for nearly 30 years, Dr. Walter Freeman has taken to traversing the country and proselyting about a very new kind of salvation: the transorbitol lobotomy. With an ice pick and a hammer, Freeman promises to cure depression and catatonia, delusions and psychosis, with a procedure as simple and safe as curing a toothache.
When he enters the backwater Oklahoma town of Burnwood, however, his own sanity will be tested. Around him swirls a degenerate and delusional cast of characters: a preacher who believes his son to be the Messiah, a demented and violent young prostitute, and a trio of machete-wielding brothers, all weaved into a grotesque narrative that reveals how blind faith in anything can lead to destruction.

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If you like your horror fiction dark and hopeless

Doctor Freeman is a pioneer in the field of psychiatric medicine in the early 1950’s, unfortunately it is for his work in lobotomizing homicidal patients.  The hospital has decided the surgery is too dangerous and asks him to stop his work or leave the hospital.  He chooses to leave.  Distraught and depressed that his work will be lost to time, he forges out to share his work with the world.

In a parallel story, the town of Burnwood seems to be overcrowded with the evil and the insane.  A preacher has declared his son to be the second coming of Christ, insisting that he can cure the ill and ultimately raise the dead.  A teenage girl obsessed with her mother’s hidden treasure has turned to prostitution and murder until she can get the money and free herself from squalor and humiliation.

The characters collide in a world of insanity and depravity.  There are glimmers of hope, but darkness pervades.  They are all desperate to feel better about their downward spiraling lives, but continue doing the truly awful with predicable results.

The Incurables is a horror story about depraved people.  The only redeemable character seems to be the preacher’s son, Durango, whose father has mostly destroyed any chance of happiness in his humiliating life.

It is an interesting premise, and generally entertaining, but the story fumbles in its believability.  A doctor who can perform thousands of lobotomies on willing participants is a stretch at best.  Everyone in the story is either purely evil or utterly heartless, giving them a two-dimensional feel.

Richard Rieman performs the story well.  His voice is pleasant and his characters well defined.  There is a folksy quality to his reading that lends well with the mid-20th Century setting.  A good performance overall.

If you like your horror fiction dark and hopeless, this may be a good listen.  There is an otherworldly feel to the story, that maybe someone will be saved by the supernatural.  But darkness pervades and evil ultimately has its way.

Audiobook was provided for review by the narrator.

Please find this complete review and many others at my review blog

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- AudioBook Reviewer

Not bad, but not great

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

This book is well written and thought provoking, and I did listen to it to the end. I didn't dislike this book, but at the same time it did not make my favourites list.

I did enjoy the various bleak themes in this book. The stories flow at a good pace, and I was pleased when the stories of the different characters finally converged.


What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

My favourite character in this book is Scent. She is a teenage prostitute that does not know a life beyond destitution. She hates having to prostitute herself in order to just barely make ends meet, and she grows increasingly desperate for a chance at a better life.

Least interesting aspect... there is a lot of preachy Christian moments in this book that I had to skip over. I skipped a few chapters and ended a few chapters early because of that.


What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

Jon Bassoff's performance was okay. There were a few moments where he narrated the voice of Scent's mother (baby) that made me cringe, though.


Do you think The Incurables needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

No. I actually liked the ending for this book (though I do love grim endings to horror stories), and I thought everything was wrapped up nicely.


Any additional comments?

This audiobook was given by the narrator at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review via Audiobook Boom.

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- Lemó

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-07-2016
  • Publisher: Jon Bassoff