All proceeds from Dr. Richard Brown’s new book help those in need – but that’s not the only reason you should read it!
Mammoth Hospital hand surgeon Dr. Richard Brown has competed a second medical thriller and not only is the book a riveting read and full of references to places and people in the Eastern Sierra that many locals will recognize, but sales from it and his previous book have already raised more than $56,000 for Doctors Without Borders, a non-profit medical mission group that works across the world to provide medical services in times of war or other humanitarian disasters.
The book, Scalpels Plunge End of the Party, available on Amazon, follows the trials and tribulations of Dr. Erik ‘VJ’ Brio, who narrowly escaped death (several times) in Brown’s last book, Scalpel’s Cut, which was also set partially in the Eastern Sierra. This time, Brio and his wife and daughter get caught up in a globe-spanning crime spree that sprawls from the Eastern Sierra (Sierra Lakes in the book) to South Africa, with an infectious disease not-so-coincidentally beginning a romp through humanity in hot pursuit.
The book is a riveting mystery and adventure, and it is packed with enough local tidbits to appeal to everyone who lives here as well as enough medical details to warm the soul of doctors and surgeons everywhere.
But Brown, who divides his time between his practices in Mammoth and Del Mar, didn’t just write the book to raise money for his favorite charity (he was slated to work with DWB over the past few years but was thwarted by the global Covid shutdown so writing the book was another way to help, he said).
Doctors Without Borders is the way that I have to try to help people that I do not know how to help,” he said. “They go to places like Sudan, the Congo, Ukraine. I will likely never go to those places. It’s a way for me to help. So many people in the world have shit lives, just... shit lives. Like right now, in the Congo, with Ebola, in Ukraine... so, for me, I wanted to do the volunteer stuff but when Mammoth Medical Missions broke up, I had been going to work with them and both trips got cancelled. Then, I decided I could still help by writing this book and donating the proceeds so that is what I have done; both books have so far garnered about $56,000 (it changes each day as revenues come in) and all of that has gone directly to Doctors Without Borders.”
But the book is also just... a lot of fun, both to read, and it seems clear, to write, even as Dr Brio and his family confront some of the worst of what humanity has to offer.
“A plummet into the gulley filed with loose rock was a death sentence. There wasn’t even time to scream. It’s amazing what goes through your brain in those few seconds... Violently, my unplanned descent came to a stop, and I snapped back to reality. Serendipity had intervened. My harness had caught on a just-large-enough outcropping. There I dangled for a few minutes... I marveled at my narrow escape from certain death... and I found myself engulfed in a wave of emotions – immensely grateful to be alive and still instance and simultaneously enraged. “What the hell is going on with Slobodan,” I asked myself. There’s no way that fall should have happened. I knew it in my core... Was it intentional?” (Hint. It was.)
Brown also makes reference to several odd events in the Eastern Sierra from the past few years; an accident near Conway Summit that was reputed to trigger a beheading of one of the victims, a heinous shooting of a couple whose bodies were left in the bushes on the side of U.S. 395, and more. And he makes it clear several of his characters are based on real people from Mammoth, such as Dr. Peter Clark (aka Clark Peters) and many more. “I always like writing about Mammoth, and all the Post Op and Op staff at Mammoth Hospital are big climbers,” he said. “I have always wanted to climb, but I am afraid of heights, and they all helped me with the climbing scenes so a big shout out to the climbers at Mammoth, like Sandra Bowman, or Sara the Climber, or Peter Clark, aka Clark Peters, or Jason Lackey aka Lachlin Jasey,” he said.
Then there are the references to the surgeries themselves, which he said he wrote both as a part of the plot of his book, and as a way to let non-surgeons and lay people into his world of endless crisis management a bit.
“The next big challenge was choosing the correct wrist ligament reconstruction for Bear, one of the ither local rock-climbing maniacs” he wrote. “Despite having full license from him to do anything I deemed necessary, the decision was a puzzler. Did I go stiffer or go for a better range of motion with the greater possibility of later failure? I settled on stiffer. So, in addition to the wrist tendon, I borrowed part of to substitute for the damaged ligaments, I used a narrow but ultra-strong synthetic tape as a supplement. On top of all that, I tightened the tissue surrounding all the bones. I got it bombproof. Bear was a stud; he’d make anything work. Black and white in medicine is a fabrication of television and novels; life in our world is grayscale.”
Once Brio leaves Sierra Lakes and heads to South Africa for what is supposed to be a sabbatical, the action picks up even more as the mysterious Foundation, “a sinister group with ruthless financial goals and a seemingly endless global reach” ensnarls Brio and his wife Leila and daughter Tess in a world of death, shadowy criminals and nefarious acts backdropped against a world of diamond mines, heroin and a growing Ebola epidemic.
Brown said he wrote the book over the past few years for several reasons as noted above but also, yes, for the sheer fun of it.
“What led to writing this book; it was for fun,” he said. “I didn’t have an ax to grind, like in the first book I did... this was just an adventure. There were some experiences I had; in South Africa which is so unique, it lends itself to being written about and there a lot of things that can happen there that cannot happen in other countries, a lot of corruption and nepotism with the diamond mines... or in the DRC with Ebola...” he said.
In the meantime, he continues his practices in both Del mar and Mammoth and yes, there is a third book on the way. “It will be set in Mammoth again, and, in the Middle East,” he said. “There is so much going on there... I am going to set it there. I do not care that it’s not going to be on the New York times bestseller, I just want to write it. It will be about wildfires, and it will be set in Israel and Mammoth and it will include an intersection of the CIA and Mossad and Shinbet... and it will be about bad people trashing the environmental world.”
IF YOU WANT TO BUY THE BOOK OR DONATE TO DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS
• Go to https://www.scalpelscut.com