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  1. I’m on something of a roll at the moment. This was another cracking read.

    From book to book, there isn’t a connection with the plots. With each book, you get a story that sucks you in right from the get-go and doesn’t let you go until you turn that last page. Each of the characters are changing in ways that are intriguing. William Coles is careful with what he reveals to the reader, leaving you anxious to know more.

    The writing, characterizations, and storytelling are the finest. It’s hard resisting the need to jump right into the next book, so I won’t. This was excellent. And, as usual, the narration, by William Coles itself, was pitch perfect.

    The ending of this book beautifully answers all the questions that should be answered, and leaves open all the ones that shouldn’t. Coles has achieved the perfect balance of giving a satisfying and thought-provoking story without telling the reader what to think, and as a result, this is one that each reader will make unique to herself. One of the most original novels I’ve read in years, I’ll be mulling over it for a long time and suspect it’s one that would give even more on a second read. It gets my highest recommendation.

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  2. I have never read anything from William Coles before, but after finishing this one, I think that maybe one day I will find myself reading another one. Not in the nearest future, though.

    My favorite aspect of this book is the pacing, which may be weird to say, but in my experience, pacing issues can kill a story, especially one of this length. I felt the book started in the right place, and the author did an amazing job of setting the entire tone with a strong opening scene. As the story progressed, there was a perfect balance of events happening in real-time mixed with a backstory that didn’t feel info dumpy.

    I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to connect with these characters in such a short amount of time, so again, kudos to the author. By the end, I was on the edge of my seat as more aspects of this interesting arrangement were revealed. The amount of pure drama packed into 300 pages had me shook. This is short literature done right, people! McDowell is one of those books where I set out to read a chapter or two to get a feel for it, and the next thing I knew, I had finished reading because it was that good.

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  3. This book was amazing, with well-written characters and a breathtaking plot line that left me wondering until the last pages. I had never read any of his books before, but now I plan to. Coles is clearly a wonderful storyteller.

    As usual, William Coles creates some slightly odd but memorable characters and does an excellent job of moving them and the story forward with his particularly unique style of humor, shock, and sensitivity. I tire of some Amazon reviewers comparing an author’s novels to that author’s past works. An American gem like William Coles constructs a distinct and different story with each new project.

    Their (authors and their books that dare) quality should not be judged, measured, or based on previous works; in this case, The Surgeon’s Wife, The Spirit of Want, or Guardian of Deceit. Fiction does not need to be regurgitated facsimiles or seemingly a product of manufacturing.

    Follow this talented author as he masterfully leads his characters to solve the puzzle of McDowell, a beautiful tale like none you’ve ever read before.

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  4. This book is both brilliant and breathtaking. I loved it. William Coles is not only a distinguished surgeon but an extremely talented writer. The prose is some of the best I have encountered in a novel, and the story itself is compelling. Coles takes his time setting up the story and introducing the cast of characters that will be thoroughly developed throughout the novel. I gobbled this stuff right up!

    It’s a book about home and belonging – both to your country and to your loved ones. Family is defined by those people to whom we feel the greatest connection, whether through blood or the fulfillment of our greatest needs in life, including love, loyalty, and dependability.

    All in all, this novel is elegantly told, superbly structured, and the most original piece of fiction I’ve read in years. It’s deserving of every positive adjective I can throw at it; marvelous and thrilling. You will want to own and lose yourself in this book again and again. Buy it now and thank me later.

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  5. Another William Coles book under my belt and I enjoyed it immensely, the book was an elevated literary fiction book in which the character study and the amazing writing balanced well with the plot.

    I would honestly say that the writing took me by surprise because the author transported me into the individual thoughts with such rich language and descriptions that you felt sympathetic toward some characters and understood their decisions even though you won’t necessarily agree with them.

    I think there’s a lot of this in the book – how each character contributed to the story, their actions, right and wrong, woven so intricately into their community, and how it was like a domino effect.

    Overall, I love Coles’ writing style as well, the right amount of descriptive writing, action, and dialogue. It’s a great book!

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  6. All I can say is, believe all the hype. It’s that good.

    For the time being, though, I loved the writing. I admire any author who can tell a great story with the words ushering me along rather than tripping me up. Another reviewer in Amazon referred to the book as “lyrical”, and I heartily agree. It was beautiful.

    Second, such richly imagined characters were a delight to spend time with. I thought each character was fully developed and interesting. Even the minor characters, about whom I received limited information, still felt real. And I got the sense that there was so much more to know about them lurking below the surface.

    Finally, the story was heartbreakingly beautiful. As my waterworks attest, it was moving, without feeling like my emotions were being made fun of. In the ending, it all came together for me.

    My thoughts of the story are that it is a complex and interesting novel, with many dramatic turns and climatic changes that make this a good book. I recommend it for people who love great writing and medical stories. I can’t wait to read more from this author.

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  7. Extremely well-written. This author can do more for character development in one or two pages than others try in thirty. There was not one moment of let down or disbelief.

    McDowell is an excellent story written by an excellent author! It’s a great psychological read too, at times you like the characters, other times you hate them, it makes you wonder who to side with, and also gives you the feeling of right and wrong.

    I have recently read a comment about how many genre books are similar in style and content and have limited appeal outside a circle of dedicated fans. But that we also keep reading them, digging through the drudge in the hope that one day we will come across a true gem, a story so well-written and so moving, that it will transcend genre limitations and touch the core of our beings, of our beliefs, and our dreams. William Coles did this for me with “McDowell”, and I will go back to his other novels, hoping they are at least as good as the first one I tried.

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  8. Engaging, well-written, natural, interesting characters, I liked it!

    Let’s face it, William Coles is hard to NOT like.

    William Coles’ does two remarkable things here. Well, he does many remarkable things, but two I’d particularly like to point out:

    1. When an author loves his characters too much, the reader can often tell. Situations and descriptions seem contrived, and there is a veneer of (usually unintentional) dishonesty. But in McDowell, it’s clear that Coles is in love with his characters, yet he can remain objective and in control.
    2. How often do authors rely on villains and extremes to make their stories stand out? What struck me on completing McDowell was that the characters are in a situation that strips them down to their essentials and forces each of them to come to know their true selves.

    That being said, William Coles’ writing is gorgeous, and some of the scenes are so vivid that it would make a wonderful film. I would heartily recommend this book to anyone who loves literary fiction. Brava!

    It’s an incredible book that shouldn’t be judged by where it’s shelved at the store, a suspenseful and excellent novel.

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  9. Two days after finishing, I’m still digesting all the themes and stories in this book. There were so many moments that stunned me, either with the elegance of writing, the ebullience of the human spirit, or the eloquence of the scenes and details.

    But for a while, I wasn’t sure I could say anything that could do justice to this remarkable book. Not only is it William Coles’ greatest book (and that’s saying a lot), this modern story of McDowell sets the standard for all contemporary medical dramas and thrillers. It’s one of the only books that I would consider near perfect, and I would recommend it to anyone. It’s the novel that stuck with me the longest after reading it, and if I was forced to name a top favorite book, this would probably be it. This gush of praise might not be much of a review but go read it.

    I rarely re-read books, but this is one I can imagine picking up again in the future. Thank you, William Coles, for investing years of your life into producing this wonderful book. I look forward to sampling more of your works in the future.

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  10. I think I can now classify my reading life as “before I read McDowell” and “after I read McDowell.” The good news is that this book is phenomenal. The bad news is that it has become a cornerstone to which every book I read will be compared–and probably fall short.

    William Coles characters are so vivid and three-dimensional they sigh and bleed across the pages. But you won’t love them. They are beyond flawed, and you could even argue beyond redemption. Coles is not writing about beauty and love or hope and healing. Coles is painting a portrait of despair and guilt. His characters are damaged goods in many ways, with painful histories that have consumed them with a slow-burning rage.

    Don’t give up because of the lengthy, detailed explanations and slow-moving beginning. As you become attached to the characters, the story unfolds and becomes one you will be glad you didn’t put aside. The book is incredible. 4/5 only because of the lengthy beginning.

    A wonderful experience.

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  11. The best book I’ve read this year!

    So, here are many reasons why I enjoyed this novel.

    First, I suspected within the first few chapters of reading the novel that the author had grown up in Nepal, which was evident because the imagery, nostalgia, and familiarity evoked, are so vivid and palpable. These qualities in his writing standout above others. Since this was the author’s 14th novel, I think, maybe this is, in part, how such descriptive skills emerged.

    Second, the plots in the book are tightly drawn and easy to follow. Perhaps a little too well, as you might often guess the outcome of a subplot well in advance.

    Lastly, the characters are all drawn with some depth and humanity, and most have positive attributes. A minor downside is that there are no villains in the traditional sense.

    There are a few negatives to this book. It is a wildly popular international bestseller and for good reason.

    This will most likely be my favorite book read this year, and it’s a highly memorable one that I may even re-read in the future, which is rare for me- too many books, too little time.

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  12. This is one of the few books my husband ever recommended to me, and why I waited so long to read, it I do not know. I will start by saying I listened to the audio, and the narration was wonderful. I think that if reading it, there may have been parts that may have “bogged” me down a bit, but with the audio, it was not the case.

    The lead character in this book makes many head-scratching life decisions, and there were times I felt uneasy about what was going on. Of course, the author knew where he was going, and I didn’t. I enjoyed how there were reactions to true life events woven into the plot of the story. It made a fictional character come alive by his reactions and life choices based on an event I remember.

    If you already like William Coles, you’ll enjoy this book. The start hooked me in, and I thought it was a charming and creative story.

    I don’t believe you are meant to truly understand the true power of some stories until you’ve reached the climax and the culmination of every event leading up to it. This is one of those stories. When you finish the book and take a moment to reflect, you realize how worth it the journey was.

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  13. Some books have a hypnotic effect, and they leave you in a state of haziness when you finish them. McDowell has been such a book for me.

    It is a beautiful novel because it succeeds in creating endearing personalities.

    William Coles has such a great organicness to his writing. I also love how all his characters have multiple levels, and they are at least somewhat visible to the reader. Not all people think the same way, respond the same way, have an answer to every situation that comes at them, or respond the same way every time something happens. Coles conveys this, makes it recognizable and known.

    Anyway, I liked it, I can recommend it, and I continue to enjoy all Coles’ books I come across.

    I couldn’t believe this was a work of fiction – it was too amazing to have been imagined. I’m going to read the author’s other books.

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  14. It is statistically improbable that I will read a book as good as this one anytime soon. Although I’ll admit it starts slowly, I found that the depths of this novel are revealed as the protagonist’s life unfolds.

    Other than that, this is another wonderful story. Quirky characters and a fair dose of improbable coincidences, William Coles again weaves a tale that captivates, enraptures, and satisfies.

    What always fascinates me is how the author manages to write such sophisticated and complex prose, but have it remained so accessible to any reader. I’ll leave the summary of events to the book jacket and say that if you love William Coles’ work, as I do, this book will fulfill your expectations. If you haven’t read any of his books, drop whatever you’re doing and go get one! Any of them will do, they’re all fantastic.

    McDowell is a book suitable for anyone because it seems like every page has a life lesson written for you. The wonder of William Coles writing is the magical quality other novels seem to lack. You don’t have to find value in the book, it finds you. The complexity of character interactions, abundance of universally applicable life lessons, and intensely emotional plot should make this book on the top of your To-Read List.

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  15. Stay With This One. It’s Worth It.

    Do you know the feeling of spending a significant portion of time reading a rather long novel, and when you reach the conclusion, you are sad to say goodbye to the complex and interesting characters that inhabit the story? I experience this phenomenon with the occasional book. This is exactly how I felt about McDowell by William Coles.

    This is the first book that I have read from this author, and I must say it was a good book.

    The tone is almost astonishingly light. I can’t believe how quickly I read this book; in every crevice of time I could find. I basically got crabby with anything that got in the way of me, giving time to reading this. That’s maybe my favorite feeling as a reader; when I try and carve out an irrational five extra minutes to get to the next page.

    For a novel where many incredible things happen both externally and personally, the entire book’s realness and believability is an astonishing feat. Each character is a knowable person, and each development straightforward.

    I’m coming late to the table with this novel, and I can only echo the sentiments shared by many others. This book is fabulous, intelligent, thrilling, and riveting. It is a rare gem of literary genius.

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  16. Review from OnlineBookClub.org
    I enjoyed watching the characters in this book grow so much. The writer did an excellent job of introducing a lot of different characters in many different walks of life. He made me want to follow along with the journey of multiple people to see where their lives would take them and where their paths would cross.
    It was a joy to read a book where the main character was both the bad guy and the good guy. Hiram is the type of character that you love to hate. This book shows you the political side of medicine that you might not have thought about before. It also gives you a glimpse into many other professions with good accuracy and depth.
    Read the entire review here…

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  17. Review from OnlineBookClub.org
    I loved the book. It was an engrossing read and I could not put it down. I loved the characterization. The quirky people he meets are often funny, always endearing and very real. A beautiful story I would recommend this book to anyone interested in character-driven books. There was nothing not to like. It is well written, thought-provoking and for me an original read.
    Read the entire review here…

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  18. Review from OnlineBookClub.org
    Guilt and redemption, what could possibly make a better theme in a novel? If this is a contrast that interests you, then William H. Cole’s McDowell is the book for you. As a reader, you will experience a range of emotions and be left as you finish the last page with a feeling of compassion.
    I rate this novel as a 4 out of 4. It was professionally edited and had no grammatical mistakes. Once I had got past the initial character building, I was not able to stop reading the novel and found myself thinking about it long after I had finished reading.
    Read the entire review here…

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  19. William H. Coles’ McDowell is a page-turner that you cannot stop reading until you finish it. This fast-paced and engaging novel tells the story of a reputable surgeon, Hiram McDowell. He is presented at the beginning as a self-centered and arrogant man who cares only for himself and his children. Even though he reaches the top of his profession, he is even better at falling out with his relatives and colleagues. After a personal tragedy, however, McDowell’s perfect world collapses. After being convicted of murder and escaping from prison, McDowell begins a long physical and mental journey that makes him reconsider his relationships with other human beings. He also starts writing his memoirs with the hope of clearing his name.

    McDowell is not a short book, but I read it in one sitting. The story is consistent and logical, but many turns of events keep you in suspense. Coles’ style is dynamic, and his descriptions and dialogues are enthralling. Even though McDowell is the most complex and interesting character, the others are equally remarkable. Many of them are well rounded and likable, as in the case of his daughter Sophie, and they are likable despite their flaws, as is the reporter Paige. Most importantly, the message of McDowell is a very meaningful one. This book makes you reflect on the merciless scrutiny of people and the press and the consequences in a person’s life. It also makes significant remarks about the value of life itself. I recommend McDowell to every reader who likes books discussing important issues such as those Coles presents in his amazing novel.
    Reviewed By Astrid Lustulin for Readers’ Favorite

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