09/10/16

The Cadaver of Gideon Cathcart

Introducing a new & modern tale of gothic horror,
a novel of chilling intensity

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In 1996, in the fifth year of his training as a brain surgeon, Zach Dozier killed a man.

His name was Gideon Cathcart and he was Zach’s patient. In truth, the man had died already—or so it seemed. An hour before, with his skull open and his brain exposed to the elements, Gideon had bled out on the operating table. Half his brain had turned to mush amid the hemorrhaging. Gideon had even been tagged and bagged, near enough to death so as to qualify for it in all but fact. But in the end he hadn’t been dead after all, though how he could have done any sort of living with just half a brain wasn’t apparent. Likely he’d have never awakened. He’d have remained in a coma—a dead man breathing—with a tube in his stomach to feed and water him daily. Gideon’s life would have been nothing more than orderlies and nurses coming around a few times a day to change his diaper or turn him this way or that. Hell, a goddamn potted plant lives better. But Gideon wasn’t only his patient, he was his friend, and Zach knew he wouldn’t have wanted that.

So—hardest moment of his life—Zach finished what had been so horribly started in that operating room. He killed Gideon in a twin fit of madness and compassion. And when that terrible moment ended, Zach laid him to rest in potter’s field, under the daisies and wispy grass of a fallow earth.

Not a soul knew what Zach had done, but in all the days that followed he never knew a moment’s peace. Not because everything about that unfortunate night haunted him, although it did. Not because he saw that terrible face every time he closed his eyes, although that was true as well. Not because all he had ever loved or wanted in this world had been taken from him, although it had. No, the source of his unease was none of these things.

Zach Dozier was a man with an affliction. He killed Gideon Cathcart, then laid him to rest amid the poppies of potter’s field.

But Gideon didn’t rest—and he wouldn’t stay buried.

From the mind of Edison McDaniels comes THE CADAVER OF GIDEON CATHCART, with elements of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Stephen King’s Bag of Bones, and the 1930’s classic horror novel The Cadaver of Gideon Wyck by Alexander Laing (in fact, the title is an homage to Alexander Laing). The novel is ghostly atmospheric, with the haunted hospital becoming a character in itself. A ghost story written in third person, with compelling prose and vivid depictions of hospital routines twisted into the surreal. A chilling descent into the inner world of modern medicine and surgery, against a pretense of old-fashioned gothic horror.
Consider yourself warned.

Own it today — click here to purchase for Amazon Kindle.

07/22/15

Richard Anderson reviews NOATW

4**** Review of NOT ONE AMONG THEM WHOLE

By Richard Anderson on July 22, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

Let’s consider modern battlefield surgery. I don’t have a military background, but I am a former surgeon with an extensive trauma experience, so I can make an educated guess as to how our wounded soldiers are treated.

NOATW Print Cover

Available in paperback. Click to buy it right now!

First, conditions permitting, I would surmise that the wounded are removed from the field of battle as quickly as possible. Secondly, the medics are capable of treating life-threatening injuries, such as massive hemorrhage and sucking chest wounds, in the field. IV fluids can be infused at a rapid rate to replace blood loss until blood transfusions can be administered.Once in the mobile surgical hospital, the surgeons would have an array of diagnostic tools including x-ray and ultrasound. They would also have the instruments they need and a way to clean and sterilize them. Access to blood for transfusion, antibiotics to treat infection, sources of nutrition and hydration for those patients who cannot eat or drink would also be available.

And finally, there is no body cavity or organ system that is beyond the reach of the surgeon’s scalpel. If a bone is shattered, it can be pieced back together with screws, plates, and pins. If a major artery is lacerated, it can be repaired with a Dacron interposition graft or a segment of cadaver artery. Non-lethal injuries to the brain, heart, lungs and any other organ can be surgically treated.

Now let’s take a look at the state of battlefield surgery during the Civil War as depicted in Edison McDaniels’ Not One Among Them Whole: A Novel of Gettysburg. First, it seems that many of the wounded languished on the field of battle until the fighting was over, which leads one to wonder how many soldiers died from wounds that could have been successfully treated with today’s techniques. Second, there were no blood transfusions or IV fluids at the time. If blood loss was significant, there was no way to replace it.

Antibiotics had not been discovered yet (in fact, bacteria as an infectious agent hadn’t even been identified), so for those soldiers fortunate enough to survive their acute injuries many went on to die from infection. Postoperative nutrition and hydration was limited to what the patient could eat or drink. Pain medication consisted of shots of whisky and sips of opioid elixirs. Many Civil War era soldiers–who today would be saved by simple means such as proper nutrition, hydration, blood transfusion and IV antibiotics–went on to die from postoperative infection, malnutrition, dehydration and dysentery.

And lastly, what did the surgeons of the day have in their armamentarium? Not much. If a bone in the arm or leg was shattered by a steel ball—amputation. If a major artery or vein was lacerated—amputation. A gunshot or bayonet wound to the abdomen with perforation of the gastrointestinal tract and/or major bleeding—death, most of the time. And forget about penetrating injuries to the chest or cranium. Very little, if anything could be done to treat these wounds.

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Available for Kindle. Click to buy it right now!

And now let’s get to the heart of the matter. We all know that war is Hell, but think about how hellish it was to be a wounded soldier, or a surgeon treating that soldier, during the Civil War. That’s what Not One Among Them Whole offers the reader: a chance to get inside the minds of the soldiers, surgeons, and other ancillary individuals who were swept up by the Gettysburg conflict. Edison McDaniels does a stunning job of portraying the human carnage that was Gettysburg, and he chronicles the loss–of life, of limb, and sanity–of those involved. And he does all this with an elegant prose style, dialects that ring true for time and place, and characterizations that would impress Mark Twain.

My only complaint, and the reason this is a four and not a five star review, is the lack of a greater context. The subtitle–A Novel of Gettysburg–seemed to promise at least a glimpse into the Gettysburg conflict proper. Not possessing an intimate knowledge of the war, I didn’t know the battle depicted early in the story was actually part of the Gettysburg conflict. I thought the story was going to slowly lead me there, building tension as it neared. It wasn’t until page 295, when a wounded soldier said he’d been shot a week ago at Gettysburg, did I realize we’d been there the whole time. Because of this, I came away from the story without feeling the full weight of the cataclysmic event that was Gettysburg.

Nonetheless, I enjoyed the story very much and highly recommend it.

Click here to read the review on Amazon.

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The sequel to Not One Among Them Whole is now available on Kindle. Click to buy it now!

 

07/6/15

The Matriarch of Ruins

Today, the Gettysburg Trilogy continues…

In Book 1, Not One Among Them Whole, a novel of Surgeons and the Wounded at Gettysburg, the harrowing story of life at the front edge of a 19th century battlefield hospital was told.

Now, from the author of that acclaimed novel, comes the story of the civilians among the wounded in that surreal time:

 

Husbands and wives.

Sons and daughters.

Soldiers and surgeons.

Men and slaves.

Widows and ghosts.

The living and the dead come alive in this epic novel of a widow struggling to keep her family together amid the carnage of the Battle of Gettysburg—and the memories of her dead husband. A story of ordinary folks caught in the maelstrom of an extraordinary time.

It is 1863 and the war has come home to the Gamble farm in Southern Pennsylvania. With her husband buried under the willow tree in the back yard, and only four months in the ground, the widow Purdy Gamble must cope with losing him all over again when a rebel surgeon conscripts her farm—and Purdy’s growing respect despite herself. Hannah Gamble Griel, Purdy’s daughter, disappears into the chaos of war to chase her own ghosts, both imaginary and real. And then there are the twins Loli and Coal, just fourteen. One, struck dumb by a mule kick at age five, will find a disturbing peace amid the flames of war. The other will twice save a man’s life, unburying a horrid family secret in the process—a secret at once as alive as warm flesh and as dead as cold bones mouldering under the earth. 

The Matriarch of Ruins is a haunting story of lost love, moral dilemmas, and psychological traumas amid the ruins of war, by the author of Not One Among Them Whole. This is a vivid, suspenseful tale, told with heart-breaking empathy and stunning detail.

READ AN EXCERPT: CLICK HERE.

Now available for the Amazon Kindle. Soon in paperback as well. From Northampton House Press. Buy it today and be transported to another era. 

The Matriarch of Ruins (Gettysburg Trilogy, #2)


06/3/15

The TOUCHED

From the mind of Edison McDaniels comes a ghost story like no other…

What happens when a surgeon becomes obsessed with death?

Dr. Isaac Weed was touched by the death of his daughter. Unfortunately, so were his patients…

Dr. Isaac Weed had it all. A loving wife, a beautiful daughter, a thriving surgical practice, and an almost supernatural gift for healing. But two years after the death of his daughter, struggling to heal and just a shell of the man he once was, Dr. Weed becomes increasingly convinced his dead daughter is trying to contact him from the beyond. When he discovers a door to the afterlife, a door never meant to be opened, he just might be able to get her back. There’s just one problem.

In order to open the door, somebody has to die.

˃˃˃ A supernatural medical thriller that will leave you breathless & exhausted…

“The Touched is one of those unexpected surprises that make reading worthwhile. At once a page-turning thriller, and a metaphysical adventure of the highest order, it’s a book that will keep you turning the pages until you hit the marvelously redemptive ending craving more. One can’t but think of Stephen King, as the story’s rich cast of lovable, exquisitely-rendered characters grapple with evil, beauty, and the depths of grief and hope.”

–Tim Farrington, Author of The Monk Downstairs

The TOUCHED is currently available for the Kindle at just $2.99.
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Why wait? Let the haunting begin.

~ An Excerpt ~

Then comes the night of the ballet, the night that changes everything forever.

That glorious but awful evening begins with the sun retiring behind a veil of shimmering twilight. The couple shower and, with the hot, luxuriant waters cascading down upon them, entwine as lovers for the first time in perhaps six weeks or two months. The orgasmic embrace is at the furious urging and persistence of Anna, who feels especially close to her husband on this night and knows that Homer would never, otherwise, seek such loving solace of her in her delicate condition. For years afterward, Homer will remember this time together and will wonder if, even then, Anna somehow knew what the night would bring. Over the years to come, this idea will act like a water hammer against his sanity—and slowly erode its very foundation.

But on this night he is as sane as he will ever be again. Anna considers the promise of the life she carries and tells Homer it is a soul in creation. He realizes just how much he loves this woman, how much he loves their baby. They have a quiet, romantic dinner for three and Homer presents her with a diamond tennis bracelet that would have taken him another two years to pay off. He has considered a corsage, but has decided instead upon the bracelet, reasoning she would rather have a permanent keepsake of their special evening at the ballet. The keepsake will be buried with her and Homer will never pay it off.

They arrive 20 minutes early for The Nutcracker. Sitting down, they listen to the murmurs of the crowd and the marvelous but unprepared tunes of the orchestra as it warms up. As the opening curtain rises, Homer places his hand upon Anna’s child-filled belly. He pokes and feels the future within kick back, strong and healthy. He smiles, the two kiss, and the curtain rises.

It happens in the middle of Act II, during the dream. It is fast, with no warning whatsoever. The Arabian dancer is onstage, and her serpentine movements mesmerize the audience. There is a faint popping sound, a sound nobody actually hears in all probability, then a whoosh as the small but heavy spot light crashes down from the ceiling above. Seth’s mother is struck in the head and does not suffer. She dies instantly, or so the coroner will claim later despite all evidence to the contrary. The bread loaf size light cleaves her head, splits it open across the top, and explodes its contents in a wide swath around her. Anna’s blood and skull are flung against Homer with such force he is knocked from his seat. The woman on the other side of Anna screams, a high pitched wail that immediately curdles the stomachs of those within earshot. When the house lights come on a moment later, they reveal gray and white flecks of brain—tissue that had previously held Anna’s memories, hopes, and dreams—splayed across the head and shoulders of a score of strangers.

One of those strangers, a heavyset, older black woman with distinguished gray hair, manages to remain calm and comforts the others. Her presence is soothing in an oddly familiar way, as if she is everyone’s grandmother or best friend, and she somehow keeps the macabre situation from completely unraveling to chaos. The prime individual she comforts is Homer, who sits on the floor between the seats, at the feet of his wife. He looks at his Anna. Tears flow freely down his cheeks and mingle with the blood upon them to produce tiny rivulets of pink here and there. This makes his tears stand out eerily against his black skin. He is dazed and confused but knows at once she is dead, knows their dreams are gone. On impulse, perhaps he senses something or maybe he just needs to touch her, he reaches up and feels her belly. He rubs his hand around in the blood, as if in a trance, as if finger painting on the belly of his dead wife.

It moves.

Not a breath, not inward like the pull of a contracting diaphragm. Not outward either; there is no broad, diffuse relaxation of the ribs and belly to suggest the movement has been the last gasp of a dying woman.

It moves again.

A poke, a kick.

Something lives inside the dead woman.

Something that is trying to get out.

Something that needs to get out.

Strangers bring the woman to the aisle and lay her there. The elderly black woman has her arm around Homer even as he weeps over the pregnant remains of his wife. A tuxedoed obstetrician—there is a white carnation stuck in his lapel—kneels at Anna’s side. Jenny White observes how he only briefly looks at Anna’s head. It’s blown apart—almost as if something had needed to get out instead of in—and it’s apparent to all no amount of attention there will help her. He focuses his attention on her belly, and must feel impotent the old woman thinks. Jenny White knows the baby must be born at that moment, but there is nothing that can be done without a knife. The physician’s hand reaches along the woman’s neck, apparently seeking a pulse. From the look on his face, and the glance at his watch, it is apparent he can’t find one. 

“Three minutes,” he says quietly.

Jenny White knows this is virtually an ultimatum: three minutes before the child within will be as lost as the mother now is.

It takes seven minutes, the obstetrician has timed it, before the first paramedics finally arrive to see Homer still clutching his now very dead wife. As they pull him away, they see the woman’s pregnant belly.

“Please,” he begs, “you must do something…” The tears stream down his cheeks and hysteria finally overcomes him as he reaches out to touch her belly one last time.

It moves again.

The obstetrician sees it and Jenny White watches as he moves with deliberate speed. He takes a scalpel from the paramedic’s bag and immediately cuts the injured woman from one side to the other just below her pregnant belly button. In his haste, the doctor plunges the knife completely through the wall of the uterus and cuts the child’s scalp, leaving an odd mark across the boy’s forehead that Seth will not easily be able to explain in the future. The womb is thus torn open and the doctor pulls from it an infant boy—tiny, blue, listless, and bloody. Dead by all accounts. The paramedics swaddle the newborn in blankets.

Later, at the hospital, people will say it is a miracle the boy survived. Ten minutes by the watch of the obstetrician they will say, ten minutes during which the child should have died three times over.

Ten minutes that evolve into a decade of pain and suffering.