While I specialise in crime fiction, I love reading a variety of different books from many different genres.
That’s why I was intrigued by Dilemma, a human-interest drama novel set in and around a hospital in Birmingham.
Written by Simon Bramhall, a Consultant Surgeon, and a former patient, Fionn Murphy, the novel centres on a team of doctors and healthcare experts in Birmingham, who are all connected to a liver donation drama.
They include an anaesthetist who was actually at the scene when the donor initially fell ill, the professor who wants to transplant the liver, the donation coordinator who’s doing her best to contain the situation, and more.
As well as the healthcare professionals, Murphy and Bramhall also give the individuals involved time, including the widow of the deceased liver donor, the family of a potential recipient and more. All of these individuals have their lives turned upside down during the course of the novel, and readers get to explore the emotions and challenges that they deal with throughout the book.
The real shining star of this novel is the characterisation. The authors create unique and believable people, who really drive the narrative forward. For example, the Professor character is a brilliant example of a passive-aggressive, self-important individual who thinks a lot of herself and is eager for everyone else to know it. She’s one of my favourite characters, but most of the characters in the novel are interesting and relatable.
The plot unravels slowly, and while it does take a short while to warm up, pretty soon the compelling storyline and the engaging characters will entrance you. The novel isn’t fast-paced, but it is easy to read, so it makes for a great way to spend time over the festive period or in any future lockdowns. As the novel is written by an actual surgeon, it’s also educational. Bramhall makes the complex healthcare passages in the book understandable, meaning that you’ll learn something when you’re reading it.
The issue I have with the novel is the spelling and grammar. It could do with a good proofread; the intriguing plot and unique characters are overshadowed by daft typos, poor sentence structure, missing words and bad grammar. These issues sound small, but they’re an important part of creating a book. While the authors have great narrative skills, and it’s clear that they know their stuff when it comes to healthcare, they’re let down by the poor writing.
With the help of a professional proof reader, Dilemma could be something truly special. The characters are believable and the situations relatable, but the writing lets it all down. It’s the one issue, but it is quite a big one.
Still, Dilemma is a great read that is interesting and compelling. I’d recommend it for anyone who enjoys human-interest dramas. The story is a timely reminder that, in this day and age, having your health is a blessing that none of us should take for granted. If the pair invests in the services of a decent editor and proof reader, then I’d be very excited to read their next novel.
You can buy Dilemma and read more about it here.