Today I’m VERY happy to welcome Rob McCarthy to the blog telling us a little more about The Hollow Men – a really brilliant medical thriller that I highly recommend.
The Hollow Men is fantastic – I’m genuinely crazy about Harry already. As a medical student how did you manage to fit in the writing around what must be a hectic life?
Thank you – I’m glad you enjoyed it. It’s a challenge at times. I wrote the first draft during my first two years at university when I had a bit more free time, but now I’m in clinical years the time pressure does start to build. I tend to write either late at night,on trains and buses, or during the holidays. Peripheral placements where I’m stuck in hospital accommodation without internet connection help as well… All that said, I do really enjoy writing and find it bizarrely relaxing. It’s a chance to escape and be creative, which I don’t really get to do in my day job.
Is there a bit of you in Harry or is he based on anyone you know?
I would say no, but some of my friends who’ve read the book would disagree… I guess one similarity is that we’re both medics who have an interest in the criminal/forensic world. I would also hope that I have a bit more self-control than he does! I think we see the world in a similar way, though. The things that make Harry angry are the things that anger me, too. I get so frustrated seeing vulnerable people in hospital with drug or alcohol problems who I know will be back again, because society’s got no solutions for them. I guess part of writing the book was to create a character who could, and did, do something about those injustices.
Is it difficult to keep authenticity within the medical details AND make it exciting? Because it was exciting…
It’s challenging sometimes, yeah. I really wanted to keep the medicine as realistic as possible, as it does annoy me on TV shows when someone’s gravely injured, the doctors swoop in and they’re walking and talking the next day. In reality, those miracles can happen, but it takes teams of dozens of people and weeks or months before the patient is back to normal, if that’s ever achieved. That’s difficult to portray in a dramatic sense, though, so sometimes in the book I cut down the number of people who would be involved just so it’s easier to follow.
Can you tell us anything about what is next for Harry Kent?
Absolutely. His investigation of Zara carries on, and by the start of the second book he’s managed to get a Scotland Yard detective interested and they’ve recorded a TV appeal. He’s also ended a stormy relationship with Frankie Noble, who drags him into a case involving the
suspicious death of a whistle-blowing doctor at a children’s hospital under investigation for a high mortality rate.The case is obviously close to home and despite lots of good reasons not to, Harry finds himself getting heavily involved… I hope that readers will really invest in the characters, as I’ve got lots of places I’d like to take them!
Finally tell us a little about you – coffee or tea drinker? Anything exciting on the bucket list (if you have one) ? Any writing heroes?
Coffee drinker, strong and often – cups of tea are luxuries reserved for Sunday afternoons with feet up and the football on. And asking a writer, or indeed a reader, their writing heroes is inviting an essay, so I’ll give you a few: Michael Connelly, James Lee Burke and John Sandford for series that conjure up something new with every book, Arnaldur Indridason and Henning Mankell for creating truly real characters and being unafraid to pull them apart, and Thomas Harris and Mo Hayder for scaring the living crap out of me.
About the book:
Publication Date: 25th Feb from Hodder and Staughton
Source: Review Copy
Dr Harry Kent likes to keep busy: juggling hospital duties with his work as a police surgeon for the Metropolitan Police – anything to ward off the memories of his time as an Army medic.
Usually the police work means minor injuries and mental health assessments. But Solomon Idris’s case is different. Solomon Idris has taken eight people hostage in a chicken takeaway, and is demanding to see a lawyer and a BBC reporter. Harry is sent in to treat the clearly ill teenager…before the siege goes horribly wrong.
When Solomon’s life is put in danger again from the safety of a critical care ward, it becomes clear he knows something people will kill to protect.
Determined to uncover the secret that drove the boy to such desperate action, Harry soon realises that someone in the medical world, someone he may even know, has broken the doctors’ commandment ‘do no harm’ many times over…
The Hollow Men managed to do something that hasn’t been done for a while – engage me in a thriller that included medical elements, I’ve found for a while now that when I pick one of those up the threads of the tale that include that side of things has either been too complicated or not that authentic. Then comes Rob McCarthy and The Hollow Men which is exciting, dramatic and manages to make medicine seem both uber cool and easy to understand.
Harry Kent is the anchor holding all this together – he is likeable yet flawed, like all the characters within the pages of The Hollow Men, very realistic and intriguing to follow. I may have fallen a little in book love here not only because this is a rocking story but because every element of it feels real and like something that could be happening just around the corner. Those are always the best ones because the emotional pull is so much greater.
Rob McCarthy manages to make this both character driven and fascinating, whilst adding in some real edge of the seat moments, thought provoking social themes and has created a real page turner that absolutely has heart and soul. I loved it. Roll on the next Harry Kent novel. Long may he be around.
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Happy Reading Folks!