2 out of 5 stars
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McDowell by William H. Coles is about a surgeon (Hiram DcDowell) that goes on the run after euthanizing his grandson who was braindead in a coma, believing he would have no quality of life even if he woke up. What caused this event is debatable, although it seemed most like Hiram was tired of the his brain dead grandson, Jeremy, who was the shooter in a school shooting that initially tried to end his own life after the attack . Since the hospital room was under surveillance there is no question that Hiram killed Jeremy. After the killing, the remainder of the book consists of Hiram being on the run and conversations about trying to track him down, where he is, how to get him to prison as he was convicted of second degree murder.
The underlying issues of what this book could be about or what it mentions is more significant than what the book
actually entails. Should a well respected surgeon be able to take the life of a family member who has no brain function, committed murders, and tried to kill himself? It seems silly McDowell has to go on the run at all or have been convicted of second degree murder instead of committing a public service.
McDowell spends much more of his time as a musician, as his son is, than a doctor or surgeon at all, even before goes on the run. For the book to be about him, the author does not make Hiram likable to it is difficult to care that he is on the run, convicted of murder, or his journey escaping imprisonment. He becomes a slightly better person, capable of love on the run, but even as less of a narcissist, he doesn't have a ton of emotions or make a full cycle of change. For being on the run for over 3 years, he never runs out of money for hotel rooms or food which makes the story unrealistic, as his bank accounts are frozen from being a doctor. It's difficult to become involved in the story for that and many other reasons.
Many characters are introduced throughout the book without knowing who they are besides a name and I spent the majority of the book trying to understand where they fit into the novel, or if they were simply added to add length to the book. I feel like most of the book's text and repetitive conversations are written for length of the book instead of having actual purpose. Conversations are on repeat, just from different character perceptions, often taking the same stance on the subject.
I rate this book 2 out of 5 stars due to finding it to be a hard read. I believe the author has the capability of making this a good book if there were less conversations, McDowell were more likable, character descriptions went on longer, gramatical errors were fixed, if the book were written less like a screenplay in places, and if there were less characters to keep track of. Coles describes scenery and landscape beautifully at times. Some paragraphs were a beautiful read but for the most part I did not enjoy reading this book and it was difficult to follow because I found it boring. It's a very political book that doesn't get into politics very much. It's like reading a book written by someone who stands looking in from the window.
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