Death’s Pale Flag by Gary Simonds Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A renowned brain surgeon begins struggling as he sees evidence of ghosts and spirits in author Gary Simonds’s “Death’s Pale Flag”. 


The Synopsis

Brain surgeon and unlikely war hero, Ryan Brenan, has it all. A booming practice, a beautiful home in an idyllic setting, and a happy loving family. Then, the apparitions begin.

Subtle at first, but soon there’s no doubt about it, he’s seeing ghosts, spirits, the undead. Of course, he could just be going nuts, cracking under the pressure of his constant exposure to death, mayhem, and tragedy. But, he believes he has proof that the ghosts are very real, and that they are specifically haunting him.

We join Ryan as he tends to the sick and injured in his hospitals’ trauma bays, intensive care units, and operating rooms, all the while seeking to understand why he has become a target of the dead. Will he break down? Will he lose all that is precious to him? Will he be drawn to the other side of the great divide?

The unique storyline, similar to the works of Blake Crouch and Jeff VanderMeer is a chilling thrill ride, straddling the real world and that of the paranormal.

This riveting psychological thriller uniquely blends a detailed peek behind the curtains of modern day neurosurgery with a fantastical journey into the paranormal. Written by a highly experienced neurosurgeon who takes the reader on an immersive journey into the behind the scenes world of the operating room where few people have ever been.

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The Review

This was a compelling and captivating medical thriller meets paranormal fantasy read. The author does an amazing job of grounding this story in as much reality as possible, tying the paranormal aspects of the narrative into the protagonist’s work in the medical field. As someone interested in the paranormal and who has become fascinated with doctor’s studies and theories regarding life after death, the setting and atmosphere the author created in his work really struck home in terms of the tone they were trying to achieve.

To me, the heart of this narrative rested in the character growth and the emotional core related to the protagonist’s personal life and work-life imbalances. The way the author was able to bring realism and expertise to the protagonist’s story and work in the field of brain surgery made this a compelling read, and the way work and the experiences as a surgeon would impact his home life set the stage perfectly for the paranormal aspect of the narrative to come into play, making for an exciting story.

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The Verdict

Memorable, thrilling, and entertaining, author Gary Simonds’s “Death’s Pale Flag” is a must-read medical thriller meets paranormal novel of 2023! The grounded realism of the characters and backstory with the engaging paranormal twists and fascinating connection between the mind and the paranormal the author touches upon made this a truly amazing novel to get lost in. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Gary Simonds practiced the full breadth of neurosurgery for decades in the US Army, Geisinger Clinic, and as the Chief of Neurosurgery at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. He has performed thousands of highly complex procedures on adults and children and cared for tens of thousands of patients. In addition to his expertise in neurosurgery and the neurosciences, he is interest in an array of related subjects including: medical ethics, medical socioeconomics, humanism, doctor patient interactions, patient advocacy, and burnout and psychological distress in healthcare workers. He has co-authored with Clinical Psychologist Wayne Sotile three non-fiction books on burnout and resilience in healthcare workers and has recently written a related award-winning novel, Death’s Pale Flag. Gary stepped away from clinical neurosurgery in 2020 but still teaches undergraduates and medical students at Virginia Tech. He lives in Black Mountain NC in a log cabin with wife, Cindy, and border collie, Hamish, and is excited to connect with his readers and interested parties over a range of subjects.


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