3 out of 4 stars
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McDowell is a moving and thought-provoking psychological thriller written by William H. Coles.
Hiram McDowell is a brilliant and ambitious surgeon albeit a conceited and self-serving misogynist. He is elected President of the Board of Regents of the International College of Surgeons, heads a Department of Surgery, is the founder of a philanthropic organization for care for the indigent in Nepal, and is nominated for Secretary of Health and Human Services.
After turning his back on a promise, McDowell earns himself an enemy who vows to expose him for what he really is. He is accused of scientific misconduct, falsehood in his memoir, and profiting from raising money for charity. To top it all off, a family tragedy places him in a predicament that leads to felony.
Told in the third person perspective and with consistently steady pacing, this is an engaging and multifaceted two-part book about the rise, fall, and transformation of one man. The author successfully depicts the measures an ambitious man is willing to take to accomplish his personal goals. Similarly, he is able to portray the pain and agony of isolation, desperate desire for approval, hunger for vindication, and genuine search for self to finally understand the events that brought the downfall.
The author presents the stories of McDowell’s children separately and intersects them expertly with that of their father without deviating from the main plot. In addition to vividly described settings, from Nepal to Seattle to Phoenix and several more, the author does a great job with character development of both main and minor characters by supplying sufficient backstories. By putting McDowell in different places interacting with various people, the author exposes the readers to different ways of life characterized by isolation, self-recrimination, loneliness, and poverty among others, giving them a lot to ponder on. Finally, though I, personally, want a different conclusion to the story, the ending is perfect for the circumstances.
Though the most important part of the book, for me, is the gradual and seemingly imperceptible transformation of the main character, who still hopes for exoneration and still considers himself blameless, the part I like most is the ambiguous tone the author uses regarding the main character. It allows the readers to form their own opinions of Hiram McDowell, whether to hate him or to root for him.
Needless to say, I enjoyed this book immensely. However, I find some parts of the story a little vague especially McDowell’s relationships with his children. It is, somehow, difficult to determine if their behaviors are shaped by their father’s influence. Moreover, there are several noticeable errors within the entire book including misspelled words (like Candace instead of Candice and Sanhurst instead of Sandhurst), incorrect usage (like you’re pieces are derogatory and while your eating) and other obvious typo errors.
I, therefore, rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. It is touching, relatable, thought-provoking, and unpredictable. It appeals to the readers’ sense of right and wrong and inspires introspection and reality check. I recommend it to fans of psychological thriller.
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