Local doctor releases second novel ‘Scalpel’s Plunge: End of the Party’

Author Dr. Richard Brown holding his novels above the beach in Del Mar.
Author Dr. Richard Brown holding his novels above the beach in Del Mar.
(Benjamin Brown)

Proceeds from the sale of his novels go to Doctors Without Borders


Richard Brown thought about writing a novel for much of his adult life, but it was only after his children grew up that he put down his surgeon’s scalpel – temporarily - and picked up a pen to bring his creation to life.

While the Del Mar resident described his first novel, “Scalpel’s Cut,” published in 2018, as a medical thriller, mixing elements of the author’s day job as an orthopedic hand surgeon with a massive financial fraud conspiracy inside a hospital, at its heart the book shed light what it’s like to be a doctor.

The cover of “Scalpel’s Plunge: End of the Party”

In his new book, “Scalpel’s Plunge: End of the Party,” published in November, Brown, 61, branches out. He places the medical elements in the background and focuses on providing a wild ride for his main character, an orthopedic surgeon named Erik “VJ” Brio.

“There’s a lot more action in this book,” Brown said. For one thing, the story is set at locations around the globe, from a fictional town in the Sierra foothills (modeled after Mammoth Lakes), to Boston, to Cape Town, South Africa.

Although he’s not a rock climber himself, he relied on descriptions of the sport provided by his patients to craft a pivotal climbing scene. He used both his recollections of travel to South Africa and interviewed his South African patients to help bring his scenes of Cape Town to life.

“Basically, I used my patients as resources, which is fun,” Brown said.

The book’s plot revolves around such disparate themes as the international drug trade, the Russian mafia and a lifesaving treatment for the Ebola virus. Without intending to, VJ, the main character, becomes ensnared in the tentacles of a global crime syndicate.

The novel’s opening pages find VJ strapped to a bed in a psychiatric hospital ward. He closes his eyes and opens them again to find his nemesis, the head of the crime syndicate, standing before him.

“The knife in her hand began to move toward my chest. Then the Dark Angel’s face blurred, and the room began to spin. I struggled to leave but couldn’t. My legs felt like they were shackled in irons. The panic was overwhelming; my despair absolute. Could this really be happening?”

Brown self-published both volumes, and he’s relied on word of mouth and giving away copies of the book to family, friends and colleagues to publicize his novel. It is available on Amazon in both paperback and digital formats, and it will also be released as an audiobook.

He intended his new book to be a fun beach read, and not to take itself too seriously. But he has a serious reason for wanting the book to do well. Proceeds from the sale of both novels go to Doctors Without Borders, a group that provides critical medical services to those who need it, from war zones to poverty stricken areas.

His fundraising target for “Scalpel’s Cut,” his first book, was $20,000, and he managed to more than double that to raise $44,000 for Doctors Without Borders, through both book sales and donations by his literary fans. Now he’s set on raising more money with his second book.

Brown balances his writing with a full-time orthopedic practice, giving up time he used to spend watching sports to work on his books. He’s started on a third novel, and also is writing treatments for his first two books as possible TV series on streaming services such as Netflix.

As much as he enjoys his literary pursuits, he has no plans to change careers.

“I love being a doctor. I enjoy writing, but I don’t want to do it full-time,” he said. He practices in both the Del Mar area and in Mammoth Lakes.

He and his wife, Ellen, have three grown children, and they love spending time outdoors, whether its skiing or hiking with their dogs.