But the essence of this book is the timeless theme of how we engage with our dying patients, how we help them despite our own helplessness to make them better, and how intimate we become with them in the process. In Death of the Good Doctor, we gain insight into this final stage of life through Dr. Scannell's emotional struggles and those of some of her most memorable patients. There's Jay, a threatening homeless injection drug user who settles down when Dr. Scannell learns what he most cares for and buys it for him: a bowl of goldfish. And there's Elton, an obsessional man who is convinced that there must be a proper etiquette to dying and wants to discuss the steps with her. There's gravely ill Eric and his belligerent mother, who were estranged for 11 years and now are helped by the reluctant Dr. Scannell to reconcile with one another and thereby permit a peaceful good-bye. And there's Marvin, whose last request is granted: a purchase-free trip to a Target department store. A host of other characters, nearly all of them men, populate this narrative.