By Leah Greenblatt
Updated July 30, 2007 04:00 AM

Martha Moody, a real-life doctor and the author of the 2002 best-seller Best Friends, explores the telenovela-worthy goings-on at a Midwestern medical practice in Office of Desire, her sharply observed but oddly off-putting second novel. Despite a sweaty stew of intrigue — intra-office romance, hidden homosexuality, disease, dramatic religious conversion, financial fraud, and even a violent tragedy — the book’s characters are oddly inert, or at least not sufficiently sympathetic to engage readers for nearly 300 pages. Though Moody captures small moments of real grace, she fails to create protagonists we want to know. B-