Monday, November 28, 2016

Thomas Jay Berger, MD – Dueling in Death’s Backyard- Creating Dr. Cooper Logan

I’m often asked how much of myself can be found in my protagonist, Dr. Cooper Logan. I attended Tufts College and med-school, in Boston, just like Cooper Logan. In the seventies, I trained with Dr. John Kirklin, in Birmingham, Alabama. Cooper was a resident there with Dr. Joseph Kirkwood. We each achieved our mutual dream of becoming a cardiac surgeon. But Cooper is not me and I am not Cooper Logan. I had two loving parents and was a fairly decent wrestler. Cooper came from a broken home and won a wrestling scholarship. Cooper is a fictional character. I’m pretty sure I’m real. 

My residency was exactly like Cooper’s. Its rigors are meticulously and correctly described in the book and the OR action is accurate. Every case except one is based on a real patient. Nowadays, residents are often unionized and coddled with care taken to avoid damaging their delicate egos. In my day, the only right a resident had was the right to sweat. That’s the way it should be. If you’re not willing to go through total immersion in patient care, you should not be trusted with the lives of other human beings.

Cooper and I both chose heart surgery because we wanted the challenge of being forced to do demanding work skillfully, thoughtfully and gracefully even with the Grim Reaper’s icy breath on the backs of our necks. When Cooper finds himself on the wrong end of a .357 magnum wielded by his arch enemy who happens to be stark barking insane, he is able to stay calm, think and function effectively because he is used to working with life or death in the balance. In the OR, it’s his patient’s life at stake. In the gunfight, it’s Cooper’s life at stake. Cooper is surprised to find how little difference that makes.

There is some of me in my character. That’s what makes him so real. It’s what makes his experiences seem so real.

DUELING IN DEATH’S BACKYARD is an intensely, fast-paced medical thriller written by retired cardiac surgeon Thomas Jay Berger, MD who is the winner of a Faulkner award for writing.

Exposing a scandal at the VA hospital was Dr. Cooper Logan’s responsibility, and his first mistake. The world was background noise as Cooper worked to save lives. He’d won his scholarship wrestling and struggling with Death in the operating room was his new passion. But, hospital politics wasn’t Cooper's strong point and learning them the hard way cost him his residency. Then, to make matters even worse, the druggy nurse Cooper had exposed, turns up dead and Cooper is framed for the murder. Now Cooper must duel with death outside the OR and this time it's his own life that's at stake.

And the danger he faced now had Death staring him in the face.

About the Author:

Retired from active surgical practice due to vision problems, my wife and I bought a 50 ft. sailboat and sold or gave away everything that wouldn’t fit on board. We spent about 8 years sailing all around the Caribbean. Three years ago we settled in Miami, where we each have moms in their nineties who need us to be close by. Other than my medmal expert business, I box twice a week, pump iron twice a week and try to get to the shooting range whenever I can. If one is going write thrillers with action scenes including fist and gunfights, one should have a clue how to actually do these things. A famous medical thriller writer (who shall not be named) once wrote a gunfight scene where a revolver did not fire because the safety was on. He apparently knew absolutely nothing about firearms – not even the basic fact that revolvers do not have safeties. Fistfight scenes by meek or sedentary authors are often even worse – describing techniques that would never work in real life. I am proud of my OR scenes, which no one but me could ever write. But I am also proud of the of action scenes which my own knowledge experience and constant training allow me to portray realistically.

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