Independant author award winner badge for The Desperate Trials of Phineas Mann book by Mark Powers.

2024 Independent Author Award Winner for best Medical Thriller

Title text in fancy font that says "The Desperate Trials of Phineas Mann."

A Novel by

Mark Anthony Powers

The Desperate Trials of Phineas Mann book cover by Mark Anthony Powers

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The Desperate Trials of Phineas Man

is the 4th novel in Mark Anthony Powers’ medical thriller series.

The Desperate Trials of Phineas Mann book cover by Mark Anthony Powers

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.

Praise for The Desperate Trials of Phineas Mann

“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

“A masterful reminder of the danger of bias and predisposition in the workplace and in life. Throughout his book, Mark Anthony Powers weaves his professional experience of circumstances surrounding illness and how it affects the whole family, ending in an unexpected catharsis.”

— Ruben D. Gonzales, author of the Black Mountain Mystery series

“Nobody writes medical mystery like Mark Anthony Powers. This fourth installment of the Phineas Mann series continues a flawless medical thriller storyline. The Desperate Trials of Phineas Mann combines a desperate race to solve a life-threatening diagnostic dilemma while Phineas confronts his own mortality. Powers’ latest is a compelling page turner that is genuinely surprising, scientifically accurate, and full of heart and humanity. A brilliant modern day medical mystery!”

— Christopher Ethan Cox, M. D., Professor of Medicine, director of Duke University’s Medical Intensive Care Unit and board-certified palliative medicine specialist

“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.

“Another great book from Mark Anthony Powers. It’s nice to join Phineas and Iris once again in this brand new adventure, even if the circumstances they face are frightening. This book is an absolute delight to read!”

— Eleonora Piazza, Editor-in-Chief, Not for Vanity

“Mark Anthony Powers gives us an authoritative glimpse of the human travail that accompanies the evolution of medicine, while encouraging readers to grapple with diagnoses, the shortcomings of doctors and medical institutions, and the value of persistence and broad vision to the world of medicine. An instructive and enjoyable read!”

— Francis Neelon, M.D., Associate Professor Emeritus of Medicine, Duke University

The Desperate Trials of Phineas Mann is Mark Powers’ best book yet. An emotional freight train of a finish. I finished it from the middle seat of a flight, yet it was impossible to not get emotional. Truly impressive craftsmanship.”

— Brad Goodwin, Consumer Goods President

About the Author

Mark Anthony Powers

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 M.D. 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 classes, writers’ groups, and growing fruit and vegetables were some of the enjoyment 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 in his Phineas Mann series: A Swarm in May, Breath and Mercy, Nature’s Bite, and The Desperate Trials of Phineas Mann.

Mark Powers photo