Fiction - Audiobook
Audio Book
Reviewed on 09/19/2020
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Rabia Tanveer for Readers' Favorite

McDowell by William H. Coles is the story of an arrogant surgeon who has a rude awakening about what it truly means to be humble. McDowell is a surgeon by profession, but people know him more for his almost uncaring behavior, yet he is highly respected by his fellows. However, all the wealth and the reputation he built comes crashing down when his grandson kills people and becomes brain dead after a horrific suicide attempt. But the real change in McDowell’s life comes when he is jailed for apparently mercy killing his grandson. And with that begins his journey in which he starts from the bottom and learns what it truly means to be human.

I am officially a fan of William H. Coles's narrating style. He enunciates each word carefully while putting a lot of emotion into his voice so that he embraces his characters. I love the portrayal of McDowell and how his life changes. This novel is something special. We have a very common yet very enraging man in McDowell who thinks the world is beneath him, but fate serves him a slice of humble pie that leaves him breathless with pain. His development is something that a reader will not expect. It is almost spiritual and very satisfying. In true William H. Coles fashion, the narrative just glides and makes the reader a part of the story. The dialogues are crisp, they reveal so much about the characters and the descriptions are vivid. This is a must-read novel!

Jose Cornelio

McDowell by William H. Coles is an audiobook narrated by the author himself, the tale of one man’s struggle to find meaning after losing everything. McDowell is at the peak of his professional life as a surgeon, a man who even got accepted into the president’s cabinet. But his pride and arrogance make him lose points amongst his peers. Things begin to change for him when his grandson goes on a killing spree, attempts suicide and fails, ending up as a vegetable. His death under suspicious circumstances gets McDowell convicted and jailed for second-degree murder. McDowell escapes prison and lives on the fringes of society, avoiding capture while struggling to find meaning in life. Can he evade the authorities, find a way to start again, or will he sink even deeper?

McDowell begins with an expedition up the Himalayas, which is symbolic. The views from up there are wonderful, and the sense of achievement reaching the peak of the mountain is exhilarating. When the reader meets McDowell, he is at the height of success. The journey of the protagonist is one that readers will want to study. He is a compelling character with a serious tragic flaw — his arrogance. And it eventually leads to his downfall. The transformation that takes place in him after his escape from prison will draw readers as they watch a once successful surgeon seek to rebuild his humanity. The pathos is strong and the author keeps it real.

The story is well-narrated and it features a strong cast of characters. The protagonist is a multidimensional character and I enjoyed listening to the changes that happen in his life. The audio is clear and the author’s narrative voice is strong, mimicking the pace of the story. It is filled with drama and realism, a story that will touch intimate chords in readers and awaken them to their own sense of humanity.

Gobi Jane

McDowell by William H. Coles is an engaging audiobook that follows the tragic story of a successful surgeon, McDowell. He is brilliant and very skilled, a man who is good at his job and who also gets the attention of the White House. But his arrogance and pride make him detested by his peers but that doesn’t worry him. He only cares about his family. His troubles begin when his grandson goes on a killing spree and then attempts suicide, which leaves him brain dead. When his grandson dies under questionable circumstances, McDowell is convicted for second-degree murder. Imprisoned, he succeeds in escaping jail and becomes a fugitive. Can he ever find meaning and restore his life?

The protagonist is a compelling character that is so well-developed. He is an intelligent and resourceful character but ruined by pride and arrogance. The contrast between his life before capture and while on the run is brilliantly portrayed and it reflects the reality where people are forced to learn and be humbled by life. The humanity of the characters is well-developed and the author ensures that the story feels real to readers. The elements of the setting are also well crafted, allowing readers to situate themselves when it comes to place and time. The prose is excellent and the themes of family, profession, humanity, and murder are well-developed. The story is narrated by William H. Coles in a voice that mimics the drama and the emotions of the characters. McDowell is professionally recorded and I enjoyed how the narrator honors the pacing, the punctuation, and the POV.

Romuald Dzemo

McDowell by William H. Coles is an engrossing audiobook that follows a surgeon who loses everything because of his character. McDowell is an exceptional surgeon and as he grows in fame within his ranks, his callous behavior and pride make him unpopular among his colleagues. Even if he has connections with the White House, things become complicated for him when his grandson goes wild, commits a serious crime, and becomes a vegetable after attempting suicide. His suspicious death attracts the attention of the authorities who go after McDowell, who is convicted of second-degree murder and imprisoned. McDowell escapes prison and becomes a pariah, living on the fringes of society. Can he ever rebuild his dignity and humanity?

McDowell is a novel for readers who enjoy characters with a strong tragic flaw. McDowell’s world is rich and success seems to follow him everywhere until he is driven by arrogance and pride to make mistakes that cost him everything. The author writes beautiful descriptions and while the protagonist is a tragic hero, he also attracts the sympathy of readers. I kept asking the question: Isn’t he suffering more than he deserves for his crimes? The humanity of the characters, especially that of the protagonist, is expertly written. The story is read by the author himself and his voice allows the different elements of the writing to come out clearly — drama, plot points, points of view, and character. The audio is professionally recorded and audible. I had a lot of fun following the protagonist and wanting to know how the story ends.

Christian Sia

In McDowell, William H. Coles tells the story of a successful surgeon and his tragic fall, exploring human weakness in unexpected ways. The protagonist is McDowell, a surgeon who is both arrogant and selfish, and who, at the peak of his success, becomes more and more unpopular among his peers. Things go downhill for him when he is convicted of second-degree murder, loses all respect, his career, and wealth. Imprisoned, he escapes and becomes a fugitive. Can his losses be restored and can McDowell find redemption in a world that is harsh and unforgiving?

This is an emotionally engaging story and I enjoyed the author’s gift for character. From the relationship between McDowell and his three children to motivation in characters like the TV reporter, the author ensures that the humanity of the characters comes out in the narrative. The writing is great and filled with vivid descriptions. McDowell is a classic story that features an elaborately written character with a serious tragic flaw and it will be interesting for readers to discover how the actions of a man can affect his family. It is fast-paced and has strong psychological underpinnings.

The narrative voice is strong and it grabs the reader right off the bat. The audio version of the story is narrated by the author and in a voice that respects the pacing, allowing the dramatic effects of the narrative to come across to readers. The audiobook is clear and professionally created. I listened to the whole story in two sittings.