read 30 reviews of McDowell


reviews from Indie Book Reviews

– “McDowell” by William H. Coles is truly a great piece of storytelling, and any literary and character drama fan should go and read this (and the other novels by this author). There are several familiar arch types and tropes that border on cliché, but Coles manages to just avoid it with compelling backstory and genuine character development with the believable relationships that develop amongst the characters (especially with McDowell and his family). While Hiram McDowell is clearly the main figure in this novel (hence the title), he only exists due to the strength of the supporting cast. As with his other novels, Coles’ writing is terrific. However, the strongest part of this book for me is how Coles does a great job of fleshing out his characters so as not to be the stock cut-outs or even the caricatures they could so easily be due to their extraordinary situations (esp. McDowell). It gets close at times, but they are flawed enough and real enough to maintain a sense of believability and gets better as the books progress. Great descriptions and character intrigue pulls us into the world, and complex personal drama and scandals keeps us there. Some adult scenes and language but suitable for mature teens and older. (5 stars)

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– I’m really becoming a fan of William H. Coles’s books… this is the third one I’ve read from him – the first two being “Guardian of Deceit” and “the Spirit of Want”. This one, “McDowell” is written in the same sort of way as the others, yet has its very own distinctive feel. In addition to being a riveting character-driven drama, it addresses several important cultural and social and personal events that brings more depth to the storyline. Like Coles’ other books, the writing is solid, there is lots of great character action and plenty of twists (which while a tad detectable still entertaining), lots of interesting dialogue between the leads and the supporting cast as well, and daunting personal and romantic obstacles to overcome. If you’re looking for something that is light years out of the ordinary in lit fiction, then this is definitely a great book for you. I like the way that Coles writes so descriptively and really makes us know the characters inside and out. Fast paced and even though there are more italics than I prefer (hard on my eyes), I flew through this book a quickly as I did the others and was sad to finish – although the ending is fitting and bittersweet. (4-5 stars)

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– This is my third novel now by William H. Coles, and they have all been very, very good. I like the fact that “McDowell” is a fully-realized character-driven literary novel without all the bloat that we sometimes see in the genre (excessive descriptions, purple prose, meandering dialogue that goes nowhere…). Coles fills you in as we go without getting bogged down in describing every last thing. The story moves forward and you can’t help but get sucked into Coles’s strong narrative. And I haven’t even begun to talk about the characters, which were amazing, as usual. McDowell is a great lead, although he is super flawed and of questionable morals, this is what makes his storyline so compelling, and I enjoyed watching his relationship with the other characters develop over the course of the action. Some similar themes and motifs found in typical lit-fiction, but as usual Coles does a fantastic job of putting his own unique spin on them. I always appreciate how his characters’ stories don’t just get wrapped up with a neat little bow and the cliché ‘happy ever after’ at the end, but feel real and more ‘real life’. My only real complaint was that many key events felt ‘summed up’ in the narration, and some pivotal scenes (like Hiram’s fate) happens ‘off stage’ and we don’t actually get to experience it but are told about it (this happens a few other times too). Just misses out on the opportunity for more emotional impact, in my opinion. But still a powerful, memorable read and I am ready to read more great books from William H. Coles! (4 stars)

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– Leave it to William Coles to create another engrossing, shocking, dynamic, and totally addicting story that kept me attached to my kindle for hours on end! I’ve lost track of how many of his books I’ve read now (3 maybe?), but each seems to be better than the last, and believe me that’s a pretty high bar! This book was creative, well-written, and fast-paced. Loved the character of Hiram McDowell and this may seem random, but I love that he isn’t the stereotypical ‘good guy/hero’ we always read about. He’s definitely shady and of questionable character. Thought his whole storyline with the characters was really original and intelligent and actually brings to light many real issues in life. I always love how Coles writes in a way that we really feel like we are inside the story right from the beginning, and we never want to leave! Coles not only writes well, he isn’t afraid to think outside norm conventions and come up with some pretty outlandish scenarios, but still remain quite believable. This book is a standalone, so there is no cliffhanger here and I loved the ending, even if it’s not ‘happy’. It totally works. Highly recommend for mature readers of literary drama and fiction. (5 stars).

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– There is much to be said about a novel that reads well. I’ve mentioned this before in other reviews I’ve written, but a book that keeps you reading long after you plan on putting it down ranks high for me. Not only is it entertaining, but you look forward to getting back into the book each and every time you pick it up, if you have the self-control to ever put it down. That is what reading these books by William Coles, and particularly this novel, “McDowell” has done for me. Typical of many literary genre books I’ve read, “McDowell” has much in the way of raw, ugly grittiness, yet it remains inventive and profoundly ‘true to life’. With twists and turns from the opening pages you won’t know what to expect next. The plot moved quickly and even though sometimes the narration did more of the plot work than the dialogue, it wasn’t overkill, even if it came across as unusual in places (almost feels like reading a movie script on occasion). There are some adult scenes and coarse language and only minor typos. But really nothing that hindered my enjoyment any. Coles has a way with drawing unforgettable characters who get under your skin and in your head, and “McDowell” (the character and the book) is no different. A very strong effort worthy of being read again. (4-5 stars)

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– There are few things I enjoy more than curling up with a good book and getting lost for hours on end, and “McDowell” by William H. Coles did a great job of keeping me hostage night after night! It’s fascinating character drama that in a way is very fitting of the genre, but also feels very original at the same time. The circumstances and situations Coles puts his characters in (Hiram, but also the others) are anything but run-of the-mill, yet still maintain a sense of believability. These things, while unusual, DO happen (shootings, hiking accidents, shoddy medical research, jail breaks, etc…) and while it’s unusual to have SO MUCH happen in one book, it’s also what makes it highly entertaining and hard to put down. But it’s not all high-octane drama, there is also the softer, emotional side that was appealing, and some deep philosophical themes throughout. I liked the characters and thought the dialogue seemed natural and helped to move the story forward nicely. Some bouts of ‘telling’, but mostly a fast paced read. An engaging and intelligent book that will surely appeal to mature fans of literary drama. (4-5 stars).

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– I just finished reading 2 other books by William Coles and thought they were very good So I already had some pretty high expectations when starting this one, “McDowell”. That said, I always marvel at the way that Coles is able to make the story and characters come alive. The relationship between Hiram McDowell as he plays off the other characters, from college to family and all the others provides great insight into his character and pulls the plot forward organically… and still provides great action and danger (more towards the end). In terms of world-building, there is not an enormous amount (even though the exotic locales are well-described), but I thought it fit the story very well. I do think it is a little unorthodox in how Coles inserts spurts of a narrative summary, frequently at the beginning or the end of the chapters, that quickly tells much about the story or plotline or things the characters did or how they think/feel. The problem with doing it this way is it loses any emotional impact and also is easily forgotten. Much better to let the scenes play out more in depth. However, I enjoyed that it was fast paced and well written. An intoxicating and tumultuous journey best suited for older readers. (4 stars)

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– This book is basically nonstop addicting awesome. Do not start if you have other plans – you’ve been warned. I should know better by now when I read books by William H. Coles that I’m down for the count, as he has such a way with words and with writing such interesting characters that you just don’t want to leave for a moment. This is a little different from his other books I’ve read, but still maintains the style I admire so much – original and creative storylines, strong, smart characters, and lots of complex, intelligent interweaving plotlines that come together for a fulfilling payoff in the end. I like how he writes these totally ‘out-there’ stories with characters who defy normal conventions on many levels, but they are completely believable because of his skillful world-building and sticking to personas he creates and the real-life scenarios (such as assisted suicide or gun violence). Their actions, as shocking (or even bad) as they may seem at times, always make sense for the characters, and this is so important for the integrity of the storyline. Even though Hiram is ‘flawed’ (to say the least), we always believe in him and understand why it is he does what he does. A little disappointed that we don’t get to actually witness his ultimate fate as I felt a little shortchanged there – he was a character that we grew attached to and we deserved to me more there in the scene at the ending (no spoilers). But still a great book, as are others by Coles, and a recommended read for anyone who enjoys action, drama, and great writing. (4 stars)

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– While I heartily enjoyed the other two books I’ve read by William H. Coles, in my opinion “McDowell” was even harder to put down. McDowell is a great titular character and what is great about his is that he is so imperfect and human, he certainly makes mistakes and exercises poor judgment, but you are still sympathetic towards him. While the story is mostly centered around him (mostly), there are many other characters who add to the depth and breadth of the storyline, and we see many different perspectives which is good… but at the same time can feel a bit overwhelming as I prefer to have just a few focal points to connect to, while seeing the bigger picture. I thought the beginning was a little slow (after the initial opening scene), but once it started to pick up steam it didn’t stop. The editing is very good, and overall think the presentation of these novels to be very well done with a professional feel. Ready for the next one by Coles. (4 stars)

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– Another great read from William Coles! This author is quickly becoming one of my dependable “go-to” authors when I need a great book to sink myself into. I found myself reading this one slower than I had his others, simply because I wanted to savor the amazing experience and not rush through it. Fortunately his books tend to be on the longer side, so the story is not rushed at all, yet maintains a quick pace that keeps you reading more and more until the exciting climax at the end. I think that other than Hiram, Sophie was my favorite character, and like McDowell, she shows great development throughout the course of the story. I liked the quirkiness of the supporting characters, too. The whole thing felt authentic and the dialogue was natural and flowed off the page. Occasionally I started to feel unsure what exactly the real conflict was…what exactly was driving the story forward, versus things just “happening”. It did become clearer as I read on, and it was only because I’d read this author before did I know I’d get my ‘reward’ at the end. But I still highly recommend this book (and the others Coles has written) and if it’s your first one by him then you are in for a real treat. Sit down, get comfortable, and enjoy the ride. (4 stars).

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– William Coles put a lot of heart and time and effort into this amazing story and it shows. He has a wonderful way with words; his descriptions are vivid; you see what the characters are seeing, you feel what they are feeling; you feel like you are there. I felt like I was experiencing what they were; excitement, arousal, confusion, joy, heartbreak, happiness, etc. I found this last book very hard to put down, as I had to know what the outcome for each of these characters would be, especially Hiram, but also the others (loved Sophie’s outcome!!). Each time I did have to stop reading, I found myself thinking and pondering on what I had read, and what might happen next. I have enjoyed all the books I’ve read by William Coles, but for some reason I think this might be my favorite – no real reason why; they all have a ‘darker’ human element that I find intriguing, but I think since this one is really focused on so many ethical, moral, personal and character dilemmas, it was almost like watching traffic accident – strangely upsetting, yet impossible to not look at. I thought after reading a few other books by Coles that this one would start to feel repetitive, but he still has some surprises in store for us! The road is not smooth sailing, and is never predictable and will keep you hooked right up til the end—which I loved, btw- even though I was sad to see the story come to an end. I really enjoyed it and would recommend it to adult readers of literary fiction, drama. (5 stars)

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– “McDowell” is a great piece of literary fiction no one should miss reading if they are looking for an riveting, entertaining read that is a little on the dark side. If you’re looking for a work completely lacking in cliché then I must say that you might have a bone to pick with this, as there were many ‘familiar’ elements that made me almost feel at times that I had read it before (I haven’t). But I believe the author’s job is not to be completely original (for is there such a thing as true originality, especially in literature?) here but rather to tell a powerful story that stays with you. For I believe that the true future for the genre lies not in becoming ‘newer’ but rather by taking standard tropes of the human condition and telling them better. This is where Coles’s strength lies, in my opinion. Sure we’ve read stories about conflicted, troubled characters before, but the way Coles writes them (especially here) in regards to their circumstances as well as the other characters around them stand out to me in terms of a raw authenticity that I rarely see. Normally books like this rely on some extreme plot devices to carry it forward, but here it is all character driven, helmed by one of questionable moral ground, which always makes for a more interesting ride. Solid writing, but I’m still not a real fan of the author’s habit of doing some bouts of telling narration to speed the story along. Still a great experience. (4 stars)

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– “McDowell” was an excellent novel. Now, I want to go ahead and make clear that this book is a straightforward contemporary drama. Although it has its darker side, it isn’t an overly brooding piece of literature like so many other novels these days. It isn’t a social commentary on our time, cleverly hidden amongst conflicts and relationships. Nor is it a work of literary experimentation where the prose leaves one contemplating the brilliance of the one who penned it, although it is quite lovely. No, Mr. Coles has written a novel which is all about storytelling at its finest; the grandeur of the book lying in the very fact that the writing style, the language, and the deeply personal, almost intimate feel we get when reading about these characters will affect us on some level, whether we immediately realize it or not. The hero/antihero Hiram McDowell will expose sides of you that you may not realize you have inside you. While hard to root for at times, we understand him, despite his flaws. And it is his interactions with other characters that serves as a real crux for creating genuine conflict that has us hooked. Has this idea been done before? Sure. But it is a timeless tale of strength, courage, right vs. wrong that when told well will never go out of style and will take us along for the ride every time. Great pacing and for the most part the editing was well done. Recommend. (4-5 stars)

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– This novel “McDowell”, in fact all the books I’ve read so far by this author William H. Coles, demonstrates what a truly gifted writer can do with the constraints and conventions of the literary/drama genre. This world feels so real, perhaps because he focuses on the lives of seemingly ordinary people (other than being really smart and successful) caught up in extraordinary events and lifestyle that is different from the norm – but they aren’t contrived our ludicrous for the sake of making a ‘good story’- quite the opposite. The changing plot forced the characters out of their comfort zones and into situations that challenge them and ultimately transform, on some level…for the better or the worse, but they are ultimately dealt their fate in one way or another, and this has a profound effect on us the readers. And while there is really just too much ground covered in this book to properly sum up in a brief review, just know that all of his books have exceeded my wildest expectations and keep getting better and better. Hats off to William Coles for rocking out this awesome book that was so well written and entertaining I have zero hesitation about recommending to fans of the genre. You will love it. (5 stars)

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– “McDowell” by William H. Coles was a dark and complex, yet entertaining book that I read in just a few evenings. It delivers on so many levels, but the most important one to me personally was that it was fun. Not ‘haha this is great’ fun, or ‘silly light adventures’ fun, (though I do appreciate those types of stories as well), but fun as in, ‘I’m totally invested in this unpredictable book and I don’t want to stop reading because I have to know what will happen with Hiram and the others.” I feel like in a way these are some of the best (worst) characters I’ve come across in a long time. Some more fully fleshed out than others, but all added great spice and kept things lively. It is written in a very literary style, and at times seems almost more surreal than anything… I did notice some editing things (nothing major though) and at times the pacing was off, but I was still completely hooked until the end. Great twists and enough reality-based issues to satisfy those looking for a captivating and rewarding literary treat. (3 stars)

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– I don’t think I can properly praise William H. Coles’s writing enough in “McDowell”. From the opening scene in Nepal, to New York, to Louisville, to Washington and more, there was not a single moment that I was not hooked in his story; his descriptions were sufficient but not boring, his characters well painted, the dialogues witty and the banters between the various characters authentic and progressed their story. The narrative would be beautiful and poetic in nature, other times would be complex and dark. Great mix. There was a little romance, but the women in this novel were not mere tools, but smart and strong and successful. A large and dynamic cast of supporting characters almost overshadow the lead of McDowell, but still added some perspective and completed the spectacular world Mr. Coles created. On to the next! (4 stars)

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– For the most part “McDowell” by William H. Coles was an enjoyable, engaging and even eye-opening literary drama. However at times the impersonal narrative voice made it difficult to get involved in the story, and I frequently felt emotionally detached from all the action. Seemed like it lost focus at times and I really wondered about the need to have so many characters share the stage… we see several perspectives and while they’re still likeable characters they don’t drive the plot forward fast enough in my opinion. The writing and world building is quite solid, and as far as the actual story itself I was hooked… after about ½ way through. I wasn’t really a fan of the way that the story would be ‘explained’ to us in bursts to speed it along or catch us up or resolve plot points – instead of letting it play out more naturally for us and keeping us more connected. Some people may not mind this, but I always feel a little cheated, especially because it frequently happened at the most important parts of the book. Still a good read, I’d just prefer less narration to do the heavy lifting. (3 stars)

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– Well written, shocking and entertaining, this read by William H. Coles blends well-known literary tropes and new ideas and the result is something quite unique, yet very comforting and readable! “McDowell” is the third book I’ve read from this author, but I like how they are all able to be read on their own (not a series, but standalone books) which is great. It seems that he really has a unique style in writing these, yet each one feels very different in terms of plots and the characters. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I think this one might be it for me (although I did highly enjoy the others as well!!) This one has really good tension the whole way through, and it seems like just one thing after another keeps arising that makes everything more complicated in McDowell’s life. Had great detailing and substance, both with characters and events, … But while the storyline is great overall, I’m only giving this one 4 stars because I thought some parts felt really rushed, especially toward the end, like everything was quickly summed up, and it completely takes away from the emotional impact we are waiting for. I just didn’t get the closure/satisfaction that I like, and even though I did enjoy it, I’d prefer a more focused, coherent plot with a satisfying ending that I’m more part of. Still an incredible, memorable book that I highly recommend. (4 stars)

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– Another fantastic read by William H. Coles. The plot was relatively simple to follow along, but the pacing was decent (better than in his other books, I felt), with adequate action and elements of danger and mystery, and the book just flew by very quickly for me. I have mentioned before that I’m not particular about prose in general, and I appreciate the lovely manner of storytelling that was employed by Coles. Reads very fast-paced which is something I really like in my books, especially those deemed more ‘literary’ because those frequently are on the slower side. I didn’t mind the occasional use of coarse language, but for some reason it felt oddly out of place several times in this book (unnecessary). Almost like breaking character. Like Coles’s other books, “McDowell” definitely had a ‘darker’ tone and had great personal stakes at hand for the characters, and an unexpected ending to the climax. All in all, this author does deliver the goods when it comes to creating a powerful and unpredictable world with believable characters who expose you to new truths about life. I am ready for more! (4-5 stars)

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– I read all sorts of genres, from high fantasy, to YA paranormal, to educational nonfictions, and while I enjoy straight literary drama on occasion I’ll be the first to admit that it isn’t exactly my bread and butter. There are some things I always like about them, such as the ‘real life issues’, and the ordinary, yet unusually complex lead characters (always on some life transition of some sort), the quirky/bizarre supporting characters (usually in the supporting cast), the frequent ‘real-life’ dramatic situations…and expecting the unexpected, and the wonderful writing. Then there are the things I don’t as much care for, such as having too many characters, many of whom don’t really have fully formed personalities or functions but are just there to make everything feel ‘bigger’ or more complicated, as well as having too many subplots going on at once to make the focus feel lost at times. While some people love this, it can frustrate and bore me. With this book, we walked a fine line many times, and all these elements came into play at one point or another, and that resulted in me enjoying the story overall, just not as much as I would have liked. It felt exhilarating at times, laborious at other times… I didn’t love the ending because after all we go through with McDowell it was almost brushed aside…as well as several other important key events throughout. I realize it is the style of the author, but I felt like some of the best parts were missing, and I’m not sure why that was. But all in all there are so many things that worked very well, and the takeaway is powerful and profound. And it is a good story…(3-4 stars)

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– “McDowell” by William H. Coles was awesome! It is set up more like a classic character-driven novel, that is both edgy and fun, with several interweaving characters’ storylines that create suspense and intrigue. All of the books I’ve read by Coles I have found to be extremely entertaining. There’s lots of developing action, great character and plot development, flashes of humor and romance, and some surprisingly emotional moments. Some characters are occasionally paper-thin, but the main ones are well-developed with substance and dark complexity (like McDowell) The world here occasionally feels like a composite of familiar elements, but also very fresh and original at the same time. Can’t think of other books I’ve read that are like this one. Recommend for fans of the genre and I’m eager to dig into the next one by Coles now. (4-5 stars)

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– I have wholeheartedly enjoyed all of the novels I’ve read by William H. Coles, and this one “McDowell” is no exception. I’m giving this one 3.5 stars, which for me means “between good and very good”. This rating isn’t based just on the lovely prose, or deep characterization, or striking creativity (all which it certainly has). It’s simply based on the way in which the whole story affected me overall. I was invested in this book, specifically Hiram McDowell’s story, even though most of the time I wasn’t sure if I even liked him or not. But he is a fascinating, flawed character, and his supporting cast is just as intriguing. So I just kept turning pages until there weren’t any pages left to turn, without worrying about things like narrative structure or dialogue. The things that these characters go through in this book are almost too much to be believed… I feel like just a few of these things could have made for a solid book, but Coles really throws the kitchen sink at us here, with one thing after another. Really keeps the twists coming. I had a blast with this book, even if I occasionally had to force myself to put away my mental red pencil so I could just enjoy the ride. If you’re in the mood for some powerful storytelling with memorable characters, this is a great place to start. Best suited for mature readers only. (3-4 stars)

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– Okay… “McDowell” is one of those books where I think an initial reaction would be, “YES!” I really enjoyed it. While I haven’t moved this book to my all-time favorites list I can and do highly recommend it. After a long dry spell where I hadn’t found a really “good” read I can just get totally and utterly lost in for days on end, I was lucky to stumble on this novel and several others by William Coles. I love all of the substance, character-driven action, the dark complexity and witty dialogue, but I definitely think this book could have used better narrative pacing and some light proofreading. There are also few moments where “info-dumping” becomes slightly tedious, but the plot and writing was overall such fun that I forgave most of my qualms. I don’t really have much else to say! Fantastic read! (4-5 stars)

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– I really liked “McDowell”… even though after the intriguing prologue it seemed to get a little slow, thankfully it picked back up again after chapter four or five. That being said, I may have enjoyed this book more than the others I’ve read lately. The action kept me at the edge of my seat the entire time, and I am a big fan of the character development in this book. Though I will say, I’m not sure we needed such a wide POV from the multitude of characters in this one. I just want to feel a little more connected to them as characters, which goes by the wayside with such broad and frequently alternating perspectives. While McDowell is the main character, the others are what made this story just as strong ( I really liked Sophia). I think it needs better editing though, as sometimes it almost feels like a rough draft at times, with the author’s ‘notes’ to himself on what he wants to do with the story becoming part of the narration. Also, there are parts where the verb tenses change from past to present to past again… a little confusing. I wasn’t all that pleased with how it ended, but it does provide the closure and feels suitable for the storyline. (4 stars)

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– “McDowell” is the second book I’ve read by William H. Coles and everything you could possibly want from a great literary novel is found here: strong world building, three dimensional characters (some of whom you love, others whom you hate), life and death situations, moral and ethical dilemmas, true-life issues, profound philosophical discussions, romance, and great writing. I like how there is not a weak or dull moment to be found here…. The plot moves at a quick pace, there is enough character action to keep entertained and although there are some deep and dark philosophical machinations dotted throughout, it never becomes heavy or tedious despite the occasional dark tone. I found that I was hooked in from the very first page and remained there until I reached the end which is saying something! It’s not a perfect book by any stretch, some typos here and there, some overused clichés… but it does deliver an epic and powerful tale that even well-read fans of the genre are sure to devour. (5 stars)

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– When I read a great novel, to me it is about more than world building and unique plot (as those are pretty rare), but the strength in the characterizations. What REAL people do in REAL situations, even if those people are somewhat ‘extraordinary’ (like an esteemed surgeon) or the situations are unusual. As long as they are relatable and we can see ourselves in the pages, it is a success. I’ve read several of William H. Coles novels, and as usual, in “McDowell”, he delivers with lovable/hatable and quirky leads, but the supporting characters are also really well developed and all of them add something to the plot, be they good or bad. It was easy to read, not overly complicated, just a great story written without dragging things out… It’s one of the those books you pick up and just finish before you realized it’s over, like eating comfort food, the simplicity, yet character- packed pages and clever dialogue were great. I enjoyed underline tension that compelled me to not stop reading, as it does have its darker side. We never feel ‘safe’ as the threat of conflict on some level is always near, but that’s what kept me so hooked. When I was finished I closed my Kindle and smiled, for it was a good read…. I’ll read more novels by Coles for sure. (5 stars)

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– When I started reading these books by William Coles, I’d come back to reading contemporary literary fiction after a long hiatus, and “The Spirit of Want” was the first book I picked up. When I was done, I immediately started in on another of his, “Guardian of Deceit”. The moment I finished that one, I started this one, “McDowell”. So I’ve spent the last few months reading books by this author so it’s pretty safe to say I’m officially a fan! To make a long story short, I like this book to the point I had to choose between reading a couple of more pages and getting a little more sleep at night. I would not say it grabs you right away, but it kind of grows on you as the story unfolds… The main characters and interaction between them are well written and very interesting, and none of the major characters are boring which is what turned me off to the genre in the first place – almost like authors were too afraid to really take risks or put their characters through the ringer. Not here! The dialog is good, as well. The story feels fresh and while the structure could use some improving, the takeaway with this and all his books is a profound and astute look into the human condition through the eyes of remarkable, imperfect characters who will surprise you more than once. (4-5 stars)

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– “McDowell” was a complex, engaging read, and as far as “literature” go, these by William H. Coles are some of the best I’ve read lately. Great characters, good conflicts (internal and external) and witty, authentic dialogues. The only thing that bothers me is the slow pacing at times – it almost feels like a standstill and I find myself anxious for something to happen. And there were times where I was at odds with some of the characters and their roles, questioning their necessity. But the language Coles employs and the overall storyline is riveting and it’s just a sheer pleasure to read the words he writes. This is one of those stories that sorta sneaks up on you without even realizing it and gets inside your head and you are totally invested whether you realize it or not. Was happy with some of the characters’ fates, saddened at others. Like that it’s not a stereotypical “happy ever after” because that would miss the whole point. Not bleak, but not a ‘light hearted happy read’. But one that is real, has substance, and make you a part of the authentic human experience—–just the way a great book should do. (5 stars)

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– A thoroughly engrossing and enjoyable read. I don’t give out 5 stars very often, but when I do it’s because the book was well-written, entertaining, thought-provoking, and gave me the feels. This book gets 4.5 stars (because of some typos and a few punctuation errors) rounded up to 5. It kept me entertained through some really dark days and for that I’ll round up to the rare 5. I know what’s good. And I know that this book entertained me with a great story driven by good characters that I connected to. I read a great many things across all genres. Some connect and hit home, others seem to be nothing but words on a page. As I read this I found myself really feeling a part of these experiences with these characters and going through things I never imagined, from climbing in Nepal, to writing stories, to making life and death decisions, to family scandals and tragedies, to imprisonment and so, so much more….If you are at all in the mood for a book that is intelligent, complex and profound… written in a literary quality narrative with unforgettable characters and an ending that has you wanting more, this is for you! Recommend for mature readers only. (5 stars)

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– This is the second book I’ve read by William H. Coles. I liked this one better than the first. But it also has a darker psychological element and a brilliant literary prose that is a rare combination to find and helps make this book stand out from all the others. I very much enjoyed the characters, especially Hiram McDowell (whom the book is named after) and the scope of his figurative journey. I will say though, that it lacked some of the depth I look for in epic fiction and character complexities. However, this is a story that anyone can read and enjoy, not just fans of the genre. There is an underlying universal message here that we can all relate to. The story is powerfully told, easy to follow, and a lot of dialogue to move things along. When I had the opportunity, I was able to burn through it and have a lot of plot go into my head in just a couple of hours. If you’re a story-first kind of reader and love character-driven and dramatic novels, this is definitely for you. Even if Coles’s somewhat unorthodox manner of writing is slightly off-putting at first, I have grown to appreciate it how it adds, rather than detracts, to the overall story. Some adultish scenes and themes and language so best suited for very mature teens on up. (5 stars)