Local doctor doesn’t plan for his second novel, ‘Scalpel’s Plunge,’ to be the end of the writing party

Dr. Richard Brown holds his novels “Scalpel’s Plunge: End of the Party” and “Scalpel’s Cut.”
(Benjamin Brown)

Proceeds from the sale of Richard Brown’s novels go to Doctors Without Borders.


Dr. 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 — to bring his creation to life.

Brown describes his first novel, “Scalpel’s Cut,” published in 2018, as a medical thriller mixing a massive financial fraud conspiracy inside a hospital with elements of the author’s day job as an orthopedic hand surgeon with a 29-year practice in the La Jolla area. But at its heart, the book shed light on what it’s like to be a doctor.

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.

“Scalpel’s Plunge: End of the Party” is Dr. Richard Brown's second novel.
(Courtesy photo)

“There’s a lot more action in this book,” said Brown, who lives in Del Mar. The story is set in locations around the globe, from a fictional town in the Sierra foothills (modeled after Mammoth Lakes, where he also practices), to Boston to Cape Town, South Africa.

Though he’s not a rock climber, he relied on descriptions provided by his patients to craft a pivotal climbing scene. He used his recollections of traveling to South Africa and interviews with his South African patients to help bring his Cape Town scenes to life.

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

The book’s plot includes 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 a global crime syndicate.

Brown self-published both novels and has relied on word of mouth and giving copies to family members, friends and colleagues for publicity.

The newest book is available on Amazon in paperback and digital formats and will be released as an audiobook.

Brown intended “Scalpel’s Plunge” 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 benefit Doctors Without Borders, a group that goes to war zones and poverty-stricken areas to provide medical services to those who need it.

Brown’s fundraising target for “Scalpel’s Cut,” his first book, was $20,000, and he more than doubled that to $44,000 through book sales and donations from his literary fans. Now he aims to raise more money with his second book.

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

As much as he enjoys his literary pursuits, he said 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 and his wife, Ellen, have three grown children and love skiing, hiking and spending time outdoors with their dogs. ◆