September 30, 2023
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Death's Pale Flag
Book Reviews Fiction Thriller

Death’s Pale Flag: A Great Contemporary Fiction About Mental Health

Author: Gary Simonds

Genre: Medical Thrillers Fiction

Year Published: 2023

Nerdection Rating: Nerdection Worth to Read

Hello readers! January is well along its way to becoming February. And so here we are with yet another amazing book for your 2023 reading journey. Let’s dive straight into our new book rec That will be available on May 2023! 

Death’s Pale Flag is a contemporary fiction novel written by Gary Simonds. It follows the story of a neurosurgeon whose life starts to fall apart due to a single mistake. When out of nowhere ghosts start taunting him, he must take big measures to protect his family and his profession.

Spoiler Free Review

The story revolves around the life of a neurosurgeon, Ryan Bernand, and how he is the life-saver hero of many people. He is adored by his patients and family alike. He has dragged many of his patients from the yawning mouth of what we call death until one day, deadly creatures come for him. Ryan sees a ghost but refuses to believe in it. 

After his first encounter with the apparition, things rapidly go downhill. His life becomes chaotic.

His wife, Kelly, senses something is wrong with him and tries to talk to him. But Ryan is used to saving others, refuses to take help, and continues his work. However, his time at home and on vacations has gone berserk. He feels twitchy all the time. At the same time, he hates what his patients have to go through and starts blaming nature for it. As the pressure of neurosurgery increases, his work-life balance is thrown into hell.

Why do the agents of death come for him? And yet another question, what would become of his lovely wife, Kelly, and his three darling daughters? When life throws a bunch of ghosts at his face, will Ryan Bernand forsake neurosurgery or his family first?

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My Take On Death’s Pale Flag:

The author did a marvelous job of portraying some of the norms of society and breaking them. He wants the readers to have a peek at what the life of a so-called ‘Hero of People’ looks like without downright degrading it, like some authors seem to be doing these days. I think everybody, doctor or not, should read this book. There’s a norm fixed deep inside our minds- heroes don’t need saving. But here’s what’s wrong with the theory. Everything. Everybody may need saving at some point, if not by others then by themselves. 

“To be honest, I’m worried about him. His personality type puts him at high risk, you know.”

“His personality type?” responded Kelly, eyebrows raised. 

“You know. Hero type. Indestructible. Lone Cowboy. Keeps everything bottled up. Hyper-intense. Perfectionistic. Relentless self-improver. Intolerant of his weaknesses and foibles… I could go on.”

Nevertheless, there seems to be glory in Ryan’s life after all, the times when he marched into the operation theatre, I couldn’t help but wonder and be concerned for the patient. But Ryan was no loser at his job. He knew neurosurgery like the back of his hand. 

One thing I appreciated very much in Death’s Pale Flag was the way Gary described what was happening in Operation Theatre in the ‘common people’s language. He didn’t simply throw away all that medical jargon and expected the readers to get along. He broke it down into digestible chunks so you could easily chew on (and taste them). 

Likewise, I adore the way Ryan interacted with his patients. Not only was he kind to them, but he also spared time to console them and comfort them when there was bad news to be delivered. He was very responsible, sometimes preferring his patients over his family, even if this caused him great hurt. 

Likewise, I adore the way Ryan interacted with his patients. Not only was he kind to them, but he also spared time to console them and comfort them when there was bad news to be delivered. He was very responsible, sometimes preferring his patients over his family, even if this caused him great hurt. 

What do your wife and children think about your schedule?” 

Ryan shuddered for a moment. Direct hit, he thought. “Yeah, well, I’m not sure they’re too happy with it. But you get swept up into these days. And all these sick and broken people. I guess you make compromises for their sake.” 

The title of the book yells that the author may just be a great fan of Shakespeare- Death’s Pale Flag, the famous words of Romeo to Juliet when he mistakenly thought she was dead. So could it be that death (albeit a fake one) is coming for Ryan or his family members? The thought kept me on edge, especially at the ending pages of the book.

One thing that I didn’t enjoy was the slow pacing of the book. I would have enjoyed the book much more if it were fast-paced. The hospital scenes were alright but some of the scenes were dragged a bit too much for my liking. But if you’re okay with descriptive scenes with a slow pacing, you may not even notice this.

Highly recommended for fans of the autobiography ‘When breath becomes air’ and TV shows ‘The Good Doctor’ and ‘Gray’s Anatomy’- Death’s Pale Flag is a cozy fiction with light horror and the enlightenment of attending a mental health seminar, all in one book.

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About the Author of Death’s Pale Flag

Gary R. Simonds

Gary R. Simonds Is a neurosurgeon who has cared for tens of thousands of patients, and a college and medical school professor at Virginia Tech. He have published three previous non-fiction books on burnout in healthcare workers. Gary frequently give talks on neuroscience, burnout and resilience, medical ethics, medical socioeconomics, and humanism in medicine. He live in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina with His wife Cindy and Their border collie, Hamish – both of whom tolerate His guitar and banjo playing. []

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