The Wrong Road Home, by Ian A. O’Connor. Pegasus Publishing & Entertainment Group. 284 pages. Trade paperback $14.95. Kindle e-book $2.99.
The jacket copy describes this book as “A story of treachery and deceit inspired by true events.” Desmond Donahue, the unlicensed “doctor” who is the central character in this story that reads like a memoir, actually existed. Exposés about him were all over the media some decades back. The value of Mr. O’Connor’s novelistic treatment is in its psychological and moral probing of a man who, by living a lie, denies himself a full and truly free life.
Early on, readers learn that the time comes when Desmond’s deceit is exposed. Thus, the question for readers is not whether he will get caught and pay the consequences but how did it come to pass that he made decisions that led to infamy and self-loathing. What kind of friendships can a man have who cannot reveal his dark secret? What has he traded for the stature and degree of wealth that reversed the harsh poverty of his early years?
The portrait of those early years in a small Irish town is rich in detail and totally credible. We can see why Desmond is not anxious to stay in a place that is at once remote and lacking in opportunities. As a young man, he is fortunate enough to have a series of jobs with large construction companies. These jobs enable him to travel, and they open his horizons to possible futures. The idea of becoming a doctor becomes an obsession.
He comes to the U. S. following after opportunities in Chicago. Here, he has employments in restaurants and earns a GED (General Equivalency Diploma) which allows him to consider high education as the next step toward fulfilling his ambition. He take necessary science courses and assists with lab work in various medical fields.
Suddenly, receives an opportunity to enter a special medical program in the School of Medicine at University College, Cork. Desmond returns to Ireland ready to push towards his dreams only to discover that the official who authorized his admission had overstepped his authority. Desmond must go through many lower level hurdles and reapply again.
Dealing with this grave and unfair setback sets Desmond on the path of cutting corners and indulging in smaller and then larger deceptions. Though he gains the knowledge and skills that he needs to perform like a skilled, credentialed physician. He never becomes one. He makes a good friend, Roger, who temporarily solves Desmond’s problems by arranging for false documents that allow him to perpetuate his fraud. Indeed, Roger hires Desmond to co-staff a government-run group of medical centers.
But the risk of discovery is always there, and the rest of his life is based on a lie. . . .
To read the entire review, as it appear in the April 20, 2016 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the April 21 Naples, Bonita Springs, and Palm Beach Gardens / Jupiter editions, click here: Florida Weekly – O’Connor