Death's Pale Flag

Fiction - Thriller - Psychological
394 Pages
Reviewed on 03/13/2023
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Author Biography

I spent my career as a neurosurgeon at Level 1 trauma centers. I wanted to give the reader a peek behind the curtains of that world. There are great non-fiction books on the subject, but I hoped a fictional work would be more immersive, more thrilling, and more frightening. All the depictions of cases – from their origins, to the conduct of their surgeries, to their ultimate outcomes – are pretty darn accurate. And I think the reader will see, it can be pretty hair-raising. Then, I have spent many years studying what affects constant exposure to death, dying, mayhem, tragedy, and human suffering has on healthcare practitioners, and have co-authored three non-fiction books on the subject. It feels plausible to me for someone in said environment to become untethered from reality, and start seeing ghosts. I certainly know the wreckage it can cause in practitioners’ psyches, home lives, and marriages. Finally, I grew up in a house with a Scottish mother and grandmother. They firmly believed in ghosts and had their own experiences with the undead. So tales of the paranormal are embedded in my soul. If a spirit world exists, I felt it logical for its members to be attracted to someone who so often spends his time in the no-man’s land between the living and the dead. And, I thought the juxtaposition of the supernatural world with the very “natural” world of modern biomedical science would be an interesting contrast.

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Death's Pale Flag is a work of fiction in the psychological thriller and suspense subgenres. It is best suited to mature teen and adult readers owing to some dark themes but no graphic descriptions. Penned by author Gary Simonds, in this chilling work, we find ourselves immersed in the dark world of medical trauma and neuroscience when our protagonist Ryan Brenan starts to believe he is encountering ghosts. Frayed to his last nerve, Ryan has to wonder if the ghosts are real or if something in his brain has given way to chaos. Exploring strain, burnout, and psychological exhaustion with a thrilling paranormal twist, we follow with bated breath the turns of Ryan’s life to see where his adventures take him.

Author Gary Simonds offers a unique novel unlike anything I’ve ever read before, and the themes and combination of different genres are something I’d love to see more of in the medical thriller field. It is clear that Simonds knows the field well and speaks from personal experience in the world of neurosurgery, as the novel has a clinical overtone that provides a great level of professional detail. The narrative balances this out perfectly with the presence of our workaholic protagonist Ryan Brenan, who becomes more and more relatable as his life and struggles are revealed to us. The paranormal elements are believably incorporated and really highlight the mystery and psychological aspects of the plot well. Overall, Death's Pale Flag is a fascinating, detailed, and engrossing novel that I would certainly recommend for medical, psychological, and paranormal thriller fans alike, as it has much to satisfy all these groups and so much more.

Bernadette Longu

In Death’s Pale Flag, Gary Simmonds takes you behind the scenes of an ER Unit and shows you how people cope with the mayhem that they see day in and day out and the silly things people do to each other and total strangers. The book captures your attention from the first page. The main characters are Ryan Brenan, his wife Kelly, and his daughters Ava, Riley, and Erin. Other important characters in this story are Lisa LeClair, Darla Sutton, Dermott Morgan, Matt and Juleen Wolfe, Dianne, Hugh O’Connor, and Reverend Ron. These characters keep pace with the main characters' ups and downs. The author uses his narrative skills and his minor characters to lead the reader through the story while literally walking alongside the main characters and all their problems

Death’s Pale Flag by Gary Simmonds will make you stop in your tracks to take time to access what is going on in the world around you and consider how aware you are of the world and your place in it. You will find that you cannot put the book down because each chapter catches you off guard and will cause you to keep reading to the end and the final twist in the tale, which is most unexpected. I found that this was a very profound book to read and it made me do a lot of thinking about my life and the world around me. It really makes a person think. Thank you for the privilege of reading your book, Gary, I really appreciated it.

Rabia Tanveer

Death's Pale Flag by Gary Simonds is a psychological thriller that focuses on the story of Dr. Ryan Brenan, a neurosurgeon who believes he can see ghosts. Ryan loves his work and lives for it. Compassionate and kindhearted, Ryan wants to save everyone who comes to him. Working on weekends is a habit, and that takes a toll on his health. It starts small as Ryan forgets one thing and then another. But things become scary when he starts to forget the people he loves and starts hallucinating. Ryan believes he can see ghosts while his life takes one bad turn after the other. What is happening to Ryan? Is he truly seeing ghosts? Or is there something very wrong with his brain?

Captivating and entertaining, Death’s Pale Flag is the kind of novel you pick up and promptly forget the world. The story is intense and emotional, so be prepared. Gary Simonds creates an attachment to Ryan, making sure you connect with him from the get-go. What I love the most about this story is how human Ryan is. We think of doctors as invincible beings who remain detached from their patients all their lives. Ryan's complexity changes this and makes sure we look at doctors in a more human light. Ryan’s distress and issues are a clear sign that he is one of us. This is a character-driven story, meaning Ryan’s development directly impacts the storyline and its development. I love how realistic and understandable it is, despite featuring elements of ghostly visions that can derail the attention of readers but never does. A phenomenal story that I highly recommend!