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  1. In McDowell by William H. Coles, Hiram McDowell, a self-obsessed, narcissistic surgeon, is on his second marriage and heading quickly for divorce. Hiram believes people, including his wife and children, exist to serve his needs. He manages to make many enemies in business too and is facing an investigation into professional misconduct. Hiram seems oblivious to his family problems, a grandson that falls into crime, a daughter that is struggling to cope since her mother’s death from cancer and her sexuality, and a son who is having an affair with his stepsister. But when his grandson dies suddenly, Hiram’s world is turned upside down as he faces a murder charge. The events that follow estrange him from his family and set him on a journey that forces him to learn harsh life lessons and the goodness of humanity. However, Hiram must keep moving as he is being tracked by a young reporter and the police who want to bring him to justice.

    From the first scene, the character of Hiram is clearly defined. He is a vile character who uses and abuses everyone he comes into contact with. He tries to be a good father but fails miserably. I loved the conflict between the different character relationships, especially Billie and Tasha which covered a taboo subject very sensitively. There are numerous subplots to keep you engaged and each is strong and compelling. I thought the added dimension looking at female issues, such as females being reliant on their partners financially, being passed over in the workplace and the mental strength they show when problems arise, added so much realism to the story. The transformation of Hiram’s character in the second part of the novel was carefully executed and not rushed, making it totally believable. There are some very sentimental moments but also tension and superb plot twists too. I read this book in one sitting and the ending surely makes way for a sequel.
    Reviewed By Lesley Jones for Readers’ Favorite

  2. McDowell by William H. Coles is an engrossing piece of literary fiction surrounding the rise, fall, and ultimate redemption of Dr. Hiram McDowell. McDowell is both the story’s protagonist and, as he truly is his own worst enemy, also the catalyst for his demise. This snowballs from years of narcissism, callous behavior, and a ‘win at any cost’ attitude. He’s blameless in his own eyes. Blameless for failed marriages, for his vengeful colleagues, and for the frailty of his own family—which catastrophically manifests itself in the most violent way. The clank of bars isn’t enough for Hiram to see the error of his ways, but when he disappears into the refuge of the wilderness, the harsh realities of where he’s come and the things he’s done are nearly insurmountable…even for an experienced mountaineer.

    Was I meant to hate Hiram McDowell before his journey of redemption began? I don’t know, but hate wasn’t something I felt for him. In fact, as a character, he’s probably one of the most interesting I’ve come across in a long, long time. At first, I thought he was projecting an existential nihilism, but he cares about the good he has in his life far too much for that to be the case. When he loses all of it, not only does he care, but he refuses to take any accountability. The story of McDowell by William H. Coles is a character-driven narrative with a transcendental redemption arc. The people he meets, both good and bad, are perfectly fleshed out by Coles. This is quality literary fiction that, having been written at any other time than now (when millions of books are released per year), would have become required reading. It’s that good.
    Reviewed By Jamie Michele for Readers’ Favorite

  3. Hiram McDowell is at the top of his profession, a surgeon admired not only for his skill in the operating room and his contributions to the development of new surgical methods and equipment but also for his philanthropic activities. Add those achievements to his hobby of mountain climbing that includes conquering every 8000 plus foot peak in the Nepalese Himalayas. Sadly, Hiram is also an egomaniac that retains little sense of loyalty or sympathy for anyone other than his children. He’s driven to achieve and is a borderline sociopath. An incident involving his grandson sends his world of wealth and privilege into a nosedive. Can he pull his life out of the fire and rebuild? How will his problems affect his adult children?

    In McDowell, William H. Coles demonstrates, with great success, the almost impossible task of mixing a literary style and story with a commercial, character-driven tale that jerks the emotions like no other. I am especially grateful to authors who place verisimilitude and out-right realism into their stories, even when doing so could backfire. In this context, I refer to Coles’ use of “black speak” or “poor, semi-illiterate speak” when situations apply; not only in dialog but also in the narrator’s voice during those scenes! I’m in awe. While McDowell is the main character and overshadows all others, Coles develops every character with their own demons, challenges, and admirable traits, and their interaction with each other and the situations that drive their stories are “real life” to a tee. Readers may remember a TV series and movie called The Fugitive. If you do and loved it, you will surely love McDowell. I remember The Fugitive and loved it. My comparison is primarily to the second half of McDowell when the circumstances surrounding his fall from grace follow an “on the run” storyline. This is authoring par excellence, not to be missed.
    Reviewed By Lex Allen for Readers’ Favorite

  4. McDowell by William H Coles brings us the tale of a man who, having reached the top of his profession, self-destructs and loses it all, then attempts to rebuild his life from scratch. McDowell is a world-renowned surgeon, lauded by all as one of the best in the business and he knows it. This overachiever climbs mountains in his spare time and has summitted Everest along with most of the highest peaks in Nepal. He is known by all as cold, ruthless and someone who will do anything to anyone to get what he wants and to get his own way. His children, from several marriages, are estranged in many ways but he still has taken responsibility for their wellbeing and their financial security, despite not quite being able to confess and show his true feelings to them. When McDowell’s lying and cheating come back to haunt him, first in small ways but eventually in a way that will destroy his carefully choreographed career and life, McDowell suddenly finds himself all alone and a hunted man. How will this humbling experience affect the man who has always been in control and had his finger on the pulse?

    I found McDowell an interesting character and one that evoked strong emotions in the reader. Kudos to author William H Coles, who was able to extract the gamut of emotional responses from the reader. Initially, we feel nothing but scorn and disbelief at the coldness and callousness of the character but, as time goes on, the empathy and even sympathy for his predicament, despite it being of his own making, begins to take control. McDowell, when faced with total loss and devastation, must look inside for the answers and the author takes him on not just a physical journey but a spiritual one also. I won’t spoil the plot by revealing the major ethical dilemma McDowell was involved in but it ran as a common thread through much of the narrative and required the reader to make his or her own personal decision about the morality or otherwise of the act. This is a very straightforward, readable story with a strong message and an unexpected ending. I can definitely recommend this book.
    Reviewed By Grant Leishman for Readers’ Favorite

  5. McDowell is another high quality work of literary fiction penned by author William H Coles, this time focusing on themes of privilege and the fall from grace. Our central character is the titular Hiram McDowell, an acerbic and selfish man who cares only for his immediate group of close family. A renowned surgeon, McDowell’s downfall begins when his grandson commits a heinous crime and is soon after found dead himself. The bottom falls out of the surgeon’s world when he finds himself jailed and relearning the true nature of humanity by experiencing life from a totally opposite angle to the world he was born into. What results is a powerful tale of transformation and a shift in perspective.

    Author William H Coles uses his powers of character creation to tell a tragedy of epic proportions in this excellent addition to his body of work. McDowell, though highly despicable, is an engaging anti-hero to follow, full of scathing unpleasantness and arrogance, which makes his powerful fall all the more impactful. There’s fantastic atmospheric work and description throughout, but the plot really gets going once the fall occurs, at which point the emotional journey deepens and the philosophical and literal lessons of life are learned. Though this is largely a harrowing tale, the overall message is one of appreciation for the lives of others, their diversity, their pain and their perspectives, which makes for a brilliant reading experience. Overall, I would highly recommend McDowell for its literary prowess and startling emotional depth.
    Reviewed By K.C. Finn for Readers’ Favorite

  6. I became a strong fan of William H. Coles after reading his novels The Surgeon’s Wife, The Spirit of Want, and Guardian of Deceit, so when I stumbled on McDowell, I knew it would be another spellbinding and well-written story. I wasn’t wrong. It is the same powerful and unique literary voice, focused and steady. With his unique style and signature, Coles creates another compelling character in Hiram McDowell, a successful and respectable surgeon, a man with a dubious character that quickly drives his peers to resentment and makes them want to destroy him. Becoming a member of the President’s cabinet is something very coveted, but a crime is about to sink McDowell. Can he muster up enough fight to restore a reputation that is so badly damaged?

    William H. Coles has the unique style of inventing characters from the medical world and he writes so well about them that readers feel as though they are watching medical professionals confronting the challenges of their profession. The characters are sophisticated and elaborate, each with a solid background and a personality that is well defined. The prose is always impeccable, with descriptions that hit home with stunning clarity. Just in the opening lines, the protagonist is introduced in action and elements of the setting are captured in a vivid picture: “The sky cleared briefly before daybreak. The sharp bitter winds eased somewhat, but the negative forty-degree temperatures penetrated to the bone. Hiram McDowell lifted the flap of a one-man tent to look in on Erick Woolf, who turned his head, his beard tinged in frost-white from his labored breathing; Woolf lifted his goggles, his pale blue eyes opaque with fatigue.” McDowell is suspenseful and hugely entertaining, a novel that explores human nature and confronts readers with the dilemmas of the protagonist. This author knows what it takes to rattle the nerves of the reader.
    Reviewed By Romuald Dzemo for Readers’ Favorite

  7. McDowell by William H. Coles is a novel that follows the rise and fall of a man, surgeon Hiram McDowell. McDowell climbs quickly in his career and gains the respect of his peers and the community. But he is not in the good graces of most of his colleagues, thanks to his callousness and pride. His success gets him into the President’s circle, but a tragedy that leads to a conviction destroys everything. McDowell finds himself running from the authorities, losing both his reputation and his wealth. Can he find redemption? Can he rebuild his life again?

    This novel is well-written, focused, and features a well-imagined and multidimensional protagonist. The writing is superb and I enjoyed the author’s ability to explore human nature, writing deftly on the sentiments and the emotions of the characters. The protagonist is a gifted person with a tragic flaw — his pride. His level of success is captured in vivid prose that describes the moment of his induction: “The night of Hiram’s induction into the College, the auditorium bristled with a formal festivity. Dignitaries sat in black robes in chairs lined in four rows on the stage. As the new president, Hiram stood tall, his hands resting on a flag-draped podium facing the audience, his image gleaming from four giant screens suspended from the auditorium ceiling and projecting to the seven thousand plus surgeons and families in the audience.” William H. Coles is a master entertainer and while the novel makes for a delightful read, it also offers powerful lessons on humility, integrity, and humanity. One of those thrillers for readers who enjoy novels with strong characters.
    Reviewed By Divine Zape for Readers’ Favorite

  8. McDowell by William H. Coles is the story of Dr. Hiram McDowell. A celebrated surgeon, Dr. McDowell is single-minded in getting what he wants. His climb to the top is not without casualties and is not without some questionable practices. Cold and calculating, there is no denying his brilliance but when tragedy strikes, his world comes tumbling down. Grief and anger put him on a criminal path that will see his life of privilege and wealth all but destroyed. Can Hiram rebuild his life? On the run, Hiram embarks on a journey that will change the very core of him, change the way he lives, but is it enough to rebuild life as he knew it or will he become a different man? This could be Dr. McDowell’s one chance at redemption but will he take it?

    McDowell by William H. Coles is a brilliantly written masterpiece of literary fiction. A story that could so easily be true, riveting to read. The emotion pours off almost every page and you can feel it; you can feel the sadness, the humor, the anger at the main character to start with. In the beginning, you really do not like Dr. McDowell and his fall from grace will make you happy but that is the turning point of this story. From there on, the action really picks up the pace and takes you on a journey you will never forget. This book is for everybody. It is full of lessons on life and attitude. We can all learn something here and every reader will take away something different from this book. The characterization is excellent and William H. Coles has created a main protagonist that you absolutely hate from the start but grow to love. Be prepared for an intense read; there is so much going on but every single word is relevant.
    Reviewed By Anne-Marie Reynolds for Readers’ Favorite

  9. Review from OnlineBookClub.org
    I enjoyed getting to know all of the characters and found myself rooting for some over others as the story progressed. Hearing from reporters, co-workers, and relatives of Hiram, gives an interesting perspective as you see that different people have different views on the same thing. One person may have a great respect for a person and their actions, while someone else may view those actions and horrible and appalling. I found myself flipping back and forth in my opinion of McDowell, and absolutely loved how the author was able to get me to truly think about why I felt one way or another. There really was not any part of this book that I did not like. I found myself wanting more and more.
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  10. Review from OnlineBookClub.org
    This book is a success. McDowell needs to be on the shelf of every bookstore and library. I believe it would also make a great motion picture. Author William H. Coles magnificently portrays the life of Dr. Hiram McDowell not only by description and events, but also in first person point of view letting the reader make their own opinions about the characters.
    Coles has a real talent for painting a very detailed picture in the reader’s mind when describing something. Another great detail about the book and the writing is that the author has the intelligence to let the reader have their own feelings toward each individual character which I find is somewhat hard to do since most authors have their own feelings and reflect that in their writing.
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  11. Review from OnlineBookClub.org
    The character development in this novel is amazing and one of the elements I appreciate the most. It was a unique experience for me to have so much distaste for a character, but I think this is what made the story even more intriguing. Hiram is proven to be callous, rude, and selfish on a multitude of occasions. The interest comes from being able to get insight into the life of a person you would hope to never meet. As his character continues to develop, it’s interesting to reflect on how your perspective and judgement of McDowell changes. The author is able to capture who Hiram is by simultaneously focusing on the growth of the people closest to him. The attention to detail for all the characters is what hooks you to keep reading. Coles attention to detail expands to all elements of the book. The settings and events in this book are vividly described, making them feel real.
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  12. Review from OnlineBookClub.org
    McDowell is an exceptionally great story with an amazing plot and characters. William H. Cole’s depictions of the story stand great with wonderfully fashioned characters. Hiram seems an interesting enough character. And though his actions may get on people’s nerves, he seems genuine enough a character. The other characters also share the same realistic nature. One can see the deepness of their being. They aren’t just some characters. They call for attention. And they receive it.
    William H. Coles prose suits his story best. His language usage is smooth and is without much flaw. His words call attention to what truly is interesting and amazing within the book. They beckon the reader to marvel at all the complexities of being a human, all the complexities of living as a human—the challenges, the sorrow and the happiness and pure emotions that an individual goes through.
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  13. Review from OnlineBookClub.org
    In William H. Coles’ McDowell , the influence of greed drives a respected general surgeon and devoted father to use morally and ethically questionable tactics to rise to power as the President of the board of directors of the International College of Surgeons. During Part I of the two-part, 662-page novel, Hiram McDowell seems to be almost completely motivated by base instincts. The reader develops an understanding of McDowell as a powerful and wealthy man who takes what and who he wants with no regard to the consequences of his actions. The reader watches as Hiram makes a myriad of miscalculations that lead to the unravelling of his life, creating a sense of just appropriation that turns out to be short-lived.
    In Part 2, the tone softens as Hiram searches for the answers to some of life’s most elusive questions. The egomaniacal character that the reader discovers in Part 1 fades as Hiram develops more sophisticated emotions that curtail the greed and lust. Though Hiram’s development appears to be authentic, the question of Hiram’s moral fortitude never completely goes away. Part of what makes Hiram such an interesting character is that he is openly conflicted with his thoughts on what it means to love, to be a good person, and to be successful. Hiram is relatable, if not understandable, to anyone who has ever wondered what it means to be a good parent.
    McDowell was an absolute pleasure to read. The story is skillfully woven into a series of twist and turns that engages the reader and encourages the type of up-all-night reading binges that is exciting to discover. The reader gains valuable insights about their own life through their adventures with Hiram, and ultimately must decide for themselves whether Hiram is vindicated at the end.
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  14. Review of McDowell from OnlineBookClub.org
    Can a person’s identity be defined by his success? The actions of his children? Can one grievous transgression destroy years of work in building a name?
    I give this book a 4 out of 4 stars. What I liked most about the book is the character development- in the main character, but also the supporting ones. I could see the attitude and outlook of the characters changing throughout the story, reflected in their thoughts and actions. This transformation raises questions. Do money, prestige, and power change people? Is blood really thicker than water? Is one’s predisposition to certain character traits a product of the environment, or more driven by genes? Is a crime ever justifiable?
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  15. Review of McDowell from OnlineBookClub.org
    Coles does an excellent job in blending the different characters and their stories together to create a cohesive storyline and makes the differing opinions and views evident through varied diction and thought descriptions when we are reading the story through a different character’s mindset. The clarity of writing makes it so that the reader does not get lost in what can be a wearying experience of remembering which character is which and what they think, etc. The development of each character is done nicely as well. Coles’ smoothly interjects character descriptions into each situation in a natural way as opposed to a forced long-winded paragraph on what the character looks like, how they are, etc. This isn’t an easy skill, either, which adds to the credibility of Coles as a seasoned writer.
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  16. Review of McDowell from OnlineBookClub.org
    On the surface, this book doesn’t seem very complex, but as the story progresses, the author reveals a lot of information. Although there are many details in this book, it can be considered fast-paced. It is jam-packed with different scene changes, plot twists, and conflicts between characters. Some of these components may be hard to keep up with. If you have trouble following a plot that has multiple scene/character changes or is constantly introducing new information, I would not recommend this book.
    Coles did an amazing job when he wrote McDowell. The entire story is planned out to the last detail and it is obvious that he took a lot of time and effort when writing this book.
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  17. Review of McDowell from OnlineBookClub.org
    Coles does a very good job in analyzing the characters in the book. I really like that Coles went into detail about each characters’ thoughts. I have never read a book whereas the author would go into detail about the characters’ thoughts. I thought that was really awesome. I felt like I was actually seeing what they were thinking.
    I really enjoyed this book. There was always a surprise and a bit of a shock every time I would turn the page. If you’re like me and love books that have a lot of drama and suspense, then this is the book for you. I would give this book a 4 out of 4 stars.
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  18. Review from OnlineBookClub.org
    After reading McDowell, I have found that the novel is best summarized by Maude’s idoneous words to Hiram: “People content in themselves learn to give selflessly, without concern for personal gain, to learn the joy of being human.” This novel will, if nothing else, prompt conversations around the important topics alluded to within its 472 pages. Parts of McDowell caused personal reflection and consideration of others in the world; therefore, I enjoyed reading it.
    I rate McDowell by William H. Cole 4 out of 4 stars. I observed no grammatical errors while reading; thus, I believe this novel was edited professionally. One of the best parts of this novel, in my opinion, was the emotion the author was able to elicit from me when reading.
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  19. Review of McDowell from OnlineBookClub.org
    The story is effectively portrayed; the reader wants to experience what is coming next. There is no lack of plot. The author capitalizes on a terrible life-changing tragedy to transform McDowell’s circumstances utterly. The second part of the story explores how McDowell’s changed circumstances impinge on McDowell, the man; he is angry, and he needs to record his daily life to relieve tension and he wants to write his memoirs to one day proves his innocence. Hiram meets his equal in stubbornness and intransigence. Does Hiram desire redemption?
    McDowell is quite a page-turner; the story has life, good characterization. It asks questions about morality, ethics, immigration, journalism, fund-raising, family relationships, and politics. I enjoyed it very much. I rate it 4 out of 4 stars for its in-depth study of the characters; it’s a comprehensive and well-rounded story and its an excellent survey of life in the wilderness.
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  20. McDowell by William H. Coles is a family saga that follows the life of a selfish and arrogant surgeon, who suffers an epic fall from grace, and the path he travels to redemption. McDowell cares for no one but his children. But then he loses everything when his grandson commits multiple murders and fails in his suicide attempt, which leaves him paralyzed mentally. But the boy dies in very unusual circumstances and McDowell gets a conviction for second-degree murder. He is jailed. Now watch as he escapes and lives as a fugitive, pursued by the authorities and a reporter who is just too eager to interview him before the police catch up with him. Watch as he learns the virtues of humanity the hard way, by taking a path trodden by those he despised when he was powerful and rich. It’s a story that follows a man’s transformation, and his somewhat spiritual odyssey to a life that has meaning.

    William H. Coles has created a compelling character in McDowell, a character forced to embrace the essence of humanity by harsh circumstances. Can he really find redemption? It is fascinating how the character evoked powerful emotions in me and how those emotions evolved as I read on. At the beginning of the story, I detested this character, but his inner journey brought me around and, instead of a sense of revulsion for the man he was, I learned to look at him with sympathy. Here is a story that is character-driven and that explores what is essential in human nature. It is a story that is filled with powerful lessons while entertaining readers hugely. I was completely drawn into the dynamics of the story and read through it non stop. Great story, awesome characters, impeccable plot lines.

    Reviewed By Christian Sia for Readers’ Favorite

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