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The Desperate Trials of Phineas Mann

The Desperate Trials of Phineas Mann

By Mark Anthony PowersPublisher: Hawksbill PressISBN: 978-1-7370329-6-0Genre: Literary fictionPrice: $16.99
Available from: Amazon

Pulmonary and critical care specialist Dr. Phineas Mann is fighting a losing battle with a severe, progressive form of Parkinson’s disease. He is accepted into a novel trial to insert programmed stem cells into his brain. This experimental treatment is his last desperate hope to reverse his debilitating Parkinson’s symptoms.

While grappling with his own declining health, Phineas is asked to consult on a difficult case. The patient is conservative congressman Quentin Tate, whose misdiagnosed lung condition has rapidly worsened. Phineas draws on his decades of experience in a quest to identify the mysterious cause of Tate's life-threatening condition.

Then his wife, Iris, develops an obscure blood disorder that is taking her from him “one bite at a time.” When her medical specialist orders a surprising and risky treatment, Phineas is compelled to bring his keen eye and medical knowledge into her struggle. Time is his enemy as he, with his loyal service dog Ernest at his side, fights to save his beloved Iris, then himself.

Mark Anthony Powers grew up in the small town of West Lebanon, NH. At Cornell University, he branched out into Creative Writing and Russian while majoring in engineering. After receiving his MD from Dartmouth, he went south to the University of North Carolina for an internship and residency in Internal Medicine, followed by a fellowship in Pulmonary Diseases and Critical Care Medicine. After almost forty years in clinical practice and teaching, he retired from Duke University as an Associate Professor Emeritus of Medicine and began his exploration of other parts of his brain. Writing, growing fruits and vegetables, and taking a variety of courses were some of the enjoyments that followed. A deep dive into beekeeping led to his presidency of the county beekeeping association and certification as a Master Beekeeper.

Two cups of coffee and two hours of writing most mornings produced the medical thrillers A Swarm in May, Breath and Mercy, Nature’s Bite, and The Desperate Trials of Phineas Mann. His short story "Rabbits" was recently published in the journal Does It Have Pockets. To learn more or connect with Mark, please visit https://hawksbillpress.com.


Think ‘medical thriller’ and Robin Cook usually comes to mind. This should be replaced by Mark Anthony Powers, because the arrival of another addition to the Phineas Mann thriller series lends added value to the genre. In The Desperate Trials of Phineas Mann, these involve not just diagnostic medicine, but the accompanying human fallacies that introduce bias into medical and problem-solving situations. The fictional cases come across as especially realistic because of Mark Anthony Powers’ real-world job as a medical consultant in pulmonary medicine.

As in the other Phineas stories, Powers creates satisfyingly rich details about accompanying issues and just the right mix of tension to intrigue readers. The result holds surprises for Phineas, delights for readers, and reviews of medical, social, and political conundrums which consider bias in all forms. Readers seeking a vividly realistic medical thriller will find this especially thought-provoking.

Diane Donovan, Midwest Book Review

The Desperate Trials of Phineas Mann grabs the reader from the first chapter, and we are immersed into the challenges and joys of life with Dr. Phineas Mann. The author uses his characters and story line to highlight the continued importance of high-quality clinical medicine which cannot be substituted by computer-generated algorithms. I strongly connected with Phineas as he strives to remain relevant to his colleagues, patients in need, and most urgently, his wife, Iris. A stirring capstone to a thoroughly enjoyable four-part series that I encourage all to read.

Carol Hamilton, M.D., author of Hitchhiking to Madness: A Memoir

Mark Anthony Powers’ latest novel is an insider’s look at physician Phineas Mann’s struggles with becoming invisible in his field as he and his wife age and face inevitable illnesses. In a thoughtful tour de force that takes us behind the scenes in hospital rooms and clinics, Powers explores the power of family, the bonds created in a long-term marriage, the ways pets communicate with their owners, and the resilience of the human mind, as he draws on Dr. Mann’s bravery when facing a drama that can determine his life, death, and magnificent career. Like a Southern version of Abraham Verghese’s medical novels, The Desperate Trials of Phineas Mann teaches, inspires, and pulls on the heartstrings.

Dawn Elaine Von Wald, author of Analyzing the Prescotts: A Novel, and President, Rewired Creatives, Inc.