4 out of 4 stars
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McDowell by William H. Coles is truly one of its kind. It's a testament to the expertise of its author and creates a new standard for novelists wishing to specialize in the genres of crime, family, mystery, and maybe even tragedy (I find it difficult to categorize this book due to its wonderful complexity.). With a compelling plot and succinct writing style, Coles masterfully draws us into this world and then makes us realize that it is actually very similar to our own.
It is a novel that realistically portrays the experience of being human, particularly looking at the evils that one person can possess, but also their capacity to change. The story follows the life of Hiram McDowell, who is first shown on one of his frequent, but dangerous mountain climbing expeditions. Here, we are introduced to him as he leaves his climbing partner behind in the fatal cold, with no effort to save him whatsoever. McDowell is shown to be a self-serving, narcissistic, and sexist protagonist who we later find is a wealthy, well-reputed surgeon. He is married to Carole Mastriano, previously a widow and McDowell's third wife. He provides for Carole and her two daughters, Tasha and Candice. McDowell himself has three children from his past marriages: Ann, Sophie, and Billie. The story kicks off when Paige Sterling, an experienced journalist writing to expose the truth, and particularly invested in the treatment of women, begins to investigate Hiram's problematic business tactics and lifestyle. This is when the lives of all these characters truly intertwine and weave the novel into what it is.
The first part mainly focuses on the introduction of these characters and their situations, acting as a sort of rising action to the story. It pays attention to Hiram McDowell's callous and unlikable character. The second part, however, illustrates the massive changes he goes through in order to achieve some sort of redemption with the help of a bookstore owner named Maud and her family.
This novel is very impressive with its premise, writing, and characters. The plot is utterly gripping, and the writing style is just as captivating in its simplicity. The latter, I found, was very important given how complicated the narrative gets at times, and adds a good balance to the novel in its entirety. Coles also employs this one method where he almost casually states shocking progressions in the novel. This makes the reader curious enough to continue reading. The characters were also absolutely fascinating, and one of the things I loved most about this novel is that it took the time out to provide an intimate look into the lives of each, and every single one. This made it a lot more enjoyable when they mingled and combined to affect the life of Hiram McDowell. The character revelation and development, not just of Hiram but everyone around him, is very realistic and well-done with no situation or character seeming unnecessary or out-of-place.
I will give McDowell by William H. Coles a well-deserved 4 out of 4 stars. I have no complaints whatsoever. It was professionally edited, and a delight to read. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves the genres mentioned above and finds enjoyment in fast-paced plot twists. I would not, however, recommend it to anyone who wants a light read; this novel requires your utmost attention to appreciate it fully. Reading is also discouraged if you dislike strong language. Another point I wish to make is that, although of course interests are very diverse and can vary, I feel that if one finds their primary source of enjoyment in fantasy, then this novel might not be for them. If you are, however, someone looking to explore crime or family genres, then this book is a pretty good place to start.
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