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Vail Novelist Scores With Murder Mystery

by Thelma Rubinstein
The Vaily Daily

December 27, 2000

When he's not hiking, skating, or skiing, Joseph "Ted" McFadden of Vail, a retired neurosurgeon, is writing short stories and novels.

"Hermes' Viper" is a recently published page-turner, a novel profound and mysterious.

What the novelist John Grisham does with law, McFadden does with medicine, setting his novel in a large hospital where an unusual number of deaths are happening. Drawing on his knowledge of hospitals, medicine, and neurosurgery - in particular its successes, failings, and flaws - he weaves a captivating tale of life and death in a large Chicago hospital.

The riveting story focuses on Dr. Stuart Holton, as protagonist, being stalked by a deranged woman afflicted with erotomania (Old Maid's Insanity) and multiple personality disorder.

The novel begins with the loss of a beloved wife who has died of a mysterious disease; Stuart is left with three children. As he becomes aware that an unusual number of patients are dying, Holton gradually begins to fear for his children, his parents, and a woman with whom he recently has fallen in love. And the stalker herself cannot find her own true identity among her many personalities.

The novel's plot is a cat-and-mouse game, vivid and exciting enough to become a movie. In addition to descriptions of great beauty and intensity, the book also expresses a profound philosophy.

"Hermes' Viper" is the first of three books to be published. Vail's McFadden taps all of his experience from his childhood on a farm in Mississippi, to his experiences in brain surgery, removing tumors and squelching the burst of an aneurysm with a clamp he invented.


Thelma Rubinstein is a retired teacher of English with 25 years of experience, teaching many courses in literature in a senior high school on Long Island.

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