Author: William H. Coles

ISBN: 978-0-9961903-3-6

In McDowell: A Novel, Award-Winning author William H. Coles explores the life-altering consequences of Dr. Hiram McDowell who rises to the pinnacle of his profession only to see his life turned completely upside down owing to his many indiscretions.

While at the top, Hiram was President of the Board of Regents of the International College of Surgeons, a department head of surgery in a prestigious hospital in Denver, founder of a philanthropic organization for the care of the indigent in Nepal, a serious mountain climber and marathon runner and a member of the President's task force to launch the healthcare initiative for financing the uninsured. Nonetheless, he was not without numerous flaws that ultimately lead to his self-destruction.

Hiram is not a very nice dude. He is a philander, egotistical, cunning, deceitful, arrogant, believes he is a good person and doesn't know why bad things happen to good people, and he is only interested in fame and admiration. In addition, he never takes responsibility for his life, and without realizing it, he believes that things are pre-determined, essentially unchangeable and when something goes wrong, he blames it on others as if he is the victim rather than the cause.

His life begins to unravel and matters begin to take a turn for the worse, when a colleague of Hiram investigates his lab and finds scientific dishonesty. Hiram claims it was loose management that resulted in the improprieties and he should not be blamed for it. He has also been accused of fundraising malfeasance pertaining to the Nepal philanthropic organization, which he founded, when a television journalist Page Sterling investigates his activities. She also discovers that he used funds for travel and mountain climbing that were not related to the foundation's mission. Above all, and the most damning, were the accusations by Page and her cronies concerning a abominable event that he was involved in relating to his grandson Jeremy.

The story is told in two parts, the first dealing with Hiram and his “life-devote-to me” where he is self absorbed with personal achievements and fame. He is so involved with his admirable image that his life becomes a selfish pursuit of wealth and recognition. The second part paints a picture of someone who has transformed and who takes up a new identity. He makes friends with people he would have previously dismissed and he helps others. He does take responsibility for being the cause of his misfortunes. He is now looking for meaning in his ruined life and tries to figure out what went wrong in his life.

This is a wholly involving novel, highly complex and is ideal for readers who believe that fiction is a way of discovering the best and the worst in our selves. Not only does the story move forward on the power of its central character Hiram, but also on the supporting characters, the driven television journalist, Page and Hiram's daughter Sophie. They are never merely props, and through these characters Coles cleverly prods his readers to view a flawed life from two different perspectives while asking readers to set aside our moral judgments. One of the challenges facing the contemporary novelist is to capture the intrinsic aspects and complexities of a life gone astray without boring the reader, and this is where Coles excels.

Follow Here to Read Norm's Interview With William H. Coles and Here to Read a Previous Interview.