The dash in The Dash of Dr. Todd, refers to the dash we’ve seen for centuries on the headstones of the dearly departed. It’s the dash that separates date of birth from date of death. The dash is the actual journey from cradle to grave. In the case of this novel’s hero, Dr. Daniel Locke Todd, it is a journey of Homeric proportion.
We meet the young Doctor in 1859 aboard a ship bound from Boston to San Francisco. Little does he know that his ship will soon be splintered by a gigantic wave sending all but the good physician to a watery grave. Adrift alone at sea for days, he is saved by a passing whaler that takes him aboard and presses him into their crew; not as a doctor for which he has trained, but as an oarsman for which he will learn the ways of the sea. For more than a year he chases whales throughout the Southern hemisphere. Finally, he reaches San Francisco amid the heady gold rush days and finds that practicing medicine within the confines of the sprawling city is beyond his financial means. With his worldly belongings in a wheelbarrow, he strikes out for the nearest mining town and so begins his life as a frontier doctor. It is a life that will include success, failure, hardship, triumph, love, loss, and virtually every imaginable sickness, disease, pestilence, epidemic, accident, and woe than can befall man or woman.
Amid the snowstorms, cave-ins, gunfights, Indian raids, and more, Dr. Todd maintains a love for mankind plus a continuing search for answers to unanswerable questions. His quest is every man’s, but his voyage is uniquely his own. Rather than painting the portrait of Todd’s adventurous life with the sweeping grandeur some authors might have chosen, Adkins uses meticulously detailed prose to recount event after event in an engrossing tale that reminds us all of the infinite variety that dwells in each and every ubiquitous dash.
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