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 comes 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 this 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. Although I did feel at times the narrative meandered a little and the constant flip-flopping of points of view was wearying sometimes, this is a very straightforward, readable story with a strong message and an unexpected ending. I can definitely recommend this read.