A career in interventional radiology inspires an action-adventure fiction writer.
A lost treasure. A mysterious explorer. Bad guys chasing unsuspecting academics. It’s not the plot of the latest Indiana Jones adventure but of The Lost Book of Wonders, the debut novel of Chad Brecher ’94 MD’98.
Published this spring, it’s a fast-paced historical mystery that involves a metal chest once in the possession of the explorer Marco Polo that is unearthed by modern-day archeologists.
By day (and nights too, when on call) Brecher is an interventional radiologist at Southeast Radiology, just outside Philadelphia. He focuses on vein disease and interventional oncology, although his practice is within a health system that has a Level II trauma center, so there’s a great deal of variety in his day. He’s also an involved parent of children ages 4, 8, and 11. How does he find the time to write?
His published book has been in the works for 10 years, he says. “Most physicians have their creative outlet,” he says. “For surgeons, it might be the artistry in how they tie sutures. For me, it’s writing.” Brecher says he’s already written a sequel and several other manuscripts, although this is the first novel he’s pushed to get published.
Brecher was inspired to write about Marco Polo because of the controversies surrounding Polo’s life and legacy. “Did he really bring pasta back from China? Did he even really go to China, and what was he doing there?” Brecher says. The idea for the novel was cemented on a trip to Venice with his wife. As he contemplated how ancient the city is while peering into one of the canals, he remembers wondering, “How many things have been dropped into this water over the years?”
Brecher did much of the research for the novel after he completed his fellowship at Johns Hopkins and joined his wife, a historian who was finishing graduate school, in Boston. As a clinical instructor at one of Harvard’s teaching hospitals, Brecher gained access to Harvard’s vast library and would spend hours taking books down from the stacks to do research.
The young protagonists of The Lost Book of Wonders are Ellie, an expert in pre-Biblical and Biblical archaeology, and Alex, a graduate student in history. The two academics come into possession of a historical treasure and are thrust into an adventure when they’re pursued by murderous thugs.
Does Brecher relate to his heroes? “Maybe a little bit,” he says. “Growing up in the ’80s, I loved Indiana Jones. And, while radiology generally can be academic and scholarly, interventional radiologists do procedures that can be life threatening. There is more stress, more of an adventure.” His discipline, he notes, combines the processes of trying to figure something out and actively intervening on a disease. “Yes, it does play a role in how I view these characters,” he says.
The Lost Book of Wonders is available from Deeds Publishing and Amazon. Learn more at www.chadbrecher.com.