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Spencer Compton
The Thresher Ghost

Los Angeles, 1962.  

Dr. Wiley McCoy has a successful medical practice, movie-star good looks, and a substance abuse problem. When a young woman dies on his operating table, his life and career are destroyed. 

Romulo DaVinci is a conniving Voodoo shaman with supernatural powers to resurrect the dead.

The disgraced doctor and the medical adventurer are thrown together on a gonzo journey through the seminal events of the 1960’s including the JFK assassination, the Apollo moon landing, and the Manson killings.  Along the way, they commandeer a  U.S. nuclear submarine and encounter real-life characters from bonkers plutocrat Howard Hughes to ruthless Haitian leader Papa Doc Duvalier.

The Thresher Ghost is a carnival ride through a tumultuous decade--its music, its conspiracies and its scandals--as McCoy and DaVinci cross oceans and medical boundaries in a duel between science and magic.

Compton’s debut historical fiction puts a bizarre twist on real events from the 1960s. Skilled surgeon Dr. Wiley McCoy accidentally kills his ex-girlfriend on the operating table when his hand slips, ending his career. But he can’t shake the feeling that something about the accident wasn’t right, which is soon confirmed when he’s called to the home of one of his famous patients, Howard Hughes. Desperate to end his constant pain from a plane accident, Hughes gets entangled with Romulo DaVinci, who practices voodoo and promises him immortality, along with the capture of a United States submarine, the Thresher. Trusting only McCoy’s medical opinion, Hughes forces McCoy to join DaVinci and his unusual crew on the Thresher to assist in their experiments and report their actions back to Hughes.

During their time on the Thresher, Hughes, DaVinci, and his cohorts—along with an unwitting McCoy—impact significant events of mid-century history, as Compton transforms what could sound like an outlandish storyline into a coherent, believable plot. Not only are the characters in the right place at the right time, but their motivations and beliefs give them credible reasons for the choices they end up making—including choices that will shake the world. Compton digs into the intricate and realistic details of his characters’ actions, and readers will be intrigued by the events after one historical shock, when an American martyr becomes their biggest experiment.

Compton’s skillfully weaves the era’s medical knowledge with hints of magic, and readers may find themselves reveling in–maybe even giving credence to–the story’s daring revision of the past, right up to the existence of a flower that can bring the dead back, or surgery that attaches a human head to another body. Fans of alternate histories touched with the uncanny will be entertained by Compton’s “what-ifs,” and may wonder how to tease reality from fiction in this action-packed affair.

Takeaway: Medicine and magic unite in this vivid alternate-history thriller that reshapes the 1960s.

Great for fans of: Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle, Jeff Greenfield’s Then Everything Changed.

Production grades
Cover: B
Design and typography: B
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: C

BookLife Reviews

Medicine and magic unite in this vivid alternate-history thriller that reshapes the 1960s.  -Booklife Reviews

Kirkus Reviews; Midwest Book Review

“A richly imagined weave of magical realism and period potboiler… an entertaining, atmospheric take on a bizarro version of the ’60s.”

-Kirkus Reviews


“A powerful historical thriller… engrossing, mercurial, and hard to put down.”

--Midwest Book Review