4 out of 4 stars
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McDowell by William H. Coles is a two-part story of the highs and lows of Dr. Hiram McDowell's life. In public, he is a renowned surgeon and Philanthropic man, who is an avid and skilled mountain climber. To those who know him, he is an arrogant, callous and unfaithful person. The first part of the story begins when he is at the peak of his career. Hiram is a prominent man who holds office in some of the professional bodies in his field. One such position is the Regent position on the board of the International College of Surgeons. A position he gets by manipulating and betraying Michael O’Leary, a colleague.
From the start of the story, it’s easy to understand that Hiram is not a good man. His professional achievements can’t eclipse the failings in his private life. At that time, he is married to a widow named Carole Mastriano. They are living together with her two daughters and his son, Billy. Hiram is a self-centered, egotistical, and a shallow individual whose only saving grace is his concern for his children. He has little regard for his wife and most women in general. This is well illustrated in his interactions with the women in his personal and professional life.
Wealth and privilege only seem to magnify his cold-hearted nature. When personal tragedy reaches his doorstep, he makes a decision that alters his life forever. McDowell now faces public scrutiny and imprisonment. A hefty fine for being an absentee father, whose constant interventions in his children's lives lack forethought. In part two of the book, the author introduces the same man in a different situation. Hiram McDowell is now on the run after he escapes prison. He lacks the resources of his past life. The desire to evade capture leads him on a journey of self-reflection. Along the way, he meets individuals who challenge his way of thinking and his perceptions. Hiram is not without resources. He uses his mountain climbing and musical skills to aid in his new life.
McDowell is a story of about life and transformation. I think the great lesson in this book is that we are all capable of change. It is always a question of what factors are needed to start the ball rolling. This reconditioning is not easy. Hiram is a man twisted up in anger until he begins to meet people who show him a new perspective on life. As a character, he is brought out so well. An arrogant man who elicits feelings of loathing from the reader. From early in the book, Hiram is incapable of putting others before himself. As the story unravels, he becomes a man capable of risking his freedom to save someone else. This is a truly incredible story that is well paced. Despite the constant scene changes at the beginning, the storyline was easy to follow. The author does a great job in character development. I could connect with the main, as well as the minor characters. None of the characters felt like a prop. They all played a part in the overall development of the story.
William H. Coles stories are always intent on illicit strong emotion from the reader. This has been my experience so far in the books I have read from the author. The main character's full personality is put on display from the beginning of the story. The author compounds the reader's feelings with the different situations Hiram faces. I loved how the author is unapologetic about Hiram’s overall character. I hated McDowell’s demeanor from the beginning of the story. It was that raw emotion that fueled my desire to read more of the book. It was intriguing to find out that a short story I read from "Illustrated Short Fiction by William H. Coles 2000-2016" was an excerpt from this book. A little surprise for fans of the author.
One thing that disappointed me about the book, was the ending. The conclusion to Hiram’s life was a bit rushed. For a man who had been on the run for so long, I expected a more grandiose finale. Maybe, my expectations are based on the fact that I watch too many crime shows. I would rate the book 4 out of 4 stars because it was a great read. The book was well edited and had only one spelling error that I noted. I couldn’t give it a lower rating because it is a good story that explores deep issues. Some of the themes addressed in the book were; euthanasia, gun violence, and sexism. Hard-hitting topics of debate today's social forums. This book is a great pick for book clubs due to its many points of discussion. I would recommend this book to fans of works of fiction and readers looking for more depth in their reading choices. Due to the nature of the themes present in the book, I would recommend it be read by persons over the age of 18 years.
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