2 out of 4 stars
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McDowell by William H. Coles is a story about an award-winning surgeon, Hiram McDowell, and his rapid fall from grace. Hiram McDowell is a chauvinistic, power-hungry man who proves time and again that he will not hesitate to deceive others to get what he wants. This attitude eventually becomes his downfall.
Paige Sterling, a journalist, is assigned the task of doing a television special on Hiram McDowell and his many accomplishments, such as founding a surgery center in Nepal. As Paige digs deeper into Hiram’s past, she discovers some financial discrepancies as well as falsified details in Hiram’s ghost-written memoir. This leads to Hiram being demoted from several boards he is on. The final straw comes when Hiram’s grandson Jeremy kills twelve people in a mass shooting and attempts suicide but fails leaving himself in a vegetative state. Hiram is charged with second-degree murder after Jeremy dies in the hospital under mysterious circumstances while Hiram is visiting. The rest of the story is about Hiram’s escape from prison and his physical journey as well as his existential journey.
What I liked most about this book is that it reads like a coming-of-age novel. Hiram is an extremely dislikable character in the beginning with his offensive attitude towards everyone, especially women. However, by the end of the story, I found myself feeling sorry for Hiram and felt that he didn’t deserve to fall from grace so rapidly. Personally, I was very impressed by William H. Coles and his ability to take a character and to change their entire persona in the course of a novel.
What I liked least about this book was the lack of actual surgeries or healthcare. The healthcare situations discussed were very minimal and I found that to be surprising considering Hiram is a world-renowned surgeon. The author focused more on the politics behind healthcare and the different surgery boards Hiram was on. Perhaps if there would have been more about Hiram performing surgeries and saving lives then I would have liked the book more.
Overall, I found McDowell to be a very substandard story. I rate this book two out of four stars . There were several errors throughout the book and I found it to be a very dull read. I would recommend this book to anyone that may be interested in healthcare or about hiking through the country. I would not suggest this book to anyone that may have been affected by a mass shooting as some of the descriptions could be traumatizing.
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