The author of the best-sellers Rage of Angels and The Other Side of Midnight has long been called a schlockmeister. It's an unfair label in that it insults both schlock and meisters everywhere. Nothing Lasts Forever centers on three woman residents at San Francisco's Embarcadero County Hospital. There's Paige Taylor, a surgeon on trial for murdering a patient with a lethal dose of insulin; Kat Hunter, whose memory of childhood sexual abuse keeps her from letting any man get close (until she meets sexy surgeon Ken Mallory); and Honey Taft, whose extraordinary med-school record can be traced to an equally extraordinary bedside manner with her professors.
Sheldon is on cruise control in this crass enterprise, relying on the stock characters of medical dramas (the curmudgeonly but brilliant doctor, the chipper orderly, the incompetent surgeon who removes the wrong organ) and stock situations. One scene has Paige venting her spleen on a doctor who has given her a bad time ("I...I think you're a sadistic coldhearted son-of-a-bitch and I hate you."), only to watch him keel over from a stroke. (Are you listening, General Hospital?) Would that authors could be slapped with malpractice suits. (Morrow, $23)