If I had to pinpoint that one moment, that nexus which propelled me to write this story, it had to be when I was awakened by the shrill ringing of my phone at 11 o’clock on a steamy August Saturday night. The caller was in tears and incoherent, but I recognized his voice.
“Desmond, you’ve got to slow down. I’m not understanding a word you’re saying.”
“Ian…I’m ruined…I have nothing left to live for,” Desmond Donahue managed through a series of wracking sobs.
I bolted upright in my bed. My longtime, stoic, undemonstrative friend was more than just hinting at committing suicide. The desperation in his voice was a chilling portent of what was surely to come. Instinctively, I knew that the next words I would choose for my reply would be crucial, so after taking that proverbial deep breath, I calmly asked, “Can you tell me what’s wrong, Desmond?”
“I can’t.” His sobbing turned into an atavistic howl, causing the hairs on the back of my neck and arms to stand on edge. In a voice barely above a whisper, he continued, “You’ll read all about it in The Miami Herald tomorrow morning. My story will be plastered all over the front page.” There was a pause while Desmond blew his nose, and then, after a long silence, said, “Goodbye, Ian, you’ve been a good friend. Please don’t try to call me back because I won’t answer.”
I heard a click. He had hung up. As I stared into the darkness with my mind racing, I remember saying out loud, “This night is not going to end well.”
Desmond Donahue did not commit suicide that night, but the front page story in The Miami Herald the following morning was a blockbuster! My longtime friend had been uncovered as a complete fraud in a trial pitting him as an injured driver in a not-at-fault accident against an intransigent insurance carrier two days earlier. And for the very first time I learned that Desmond Donahue had been practicing medicine for over twenty years—both in his native
and later in —girded with nothing more than a
Chicago School System GED certificate and a handful of fake medical school
diplomas. Coral Gables, Florida
Right then and there I knew I had one whale of a story to tell.
Title: The Wrong Road Home – A story of treachery and deceit inspired by true events
Author: Ian A. O’Connor
Release Date: March 31, 2016
Publisher: Pegasus Publishing & Entertainment Group
Genre: Historical Medical Crime
Format: Trade paperback and EBook
Purchase on Amazon
“An intimate look at a life lived as a lie.” – Kirkus Reviews
Inspired by a true story, The Wrong Road Home is the story of Desmond Donahue. Born into abject poverty in Ireland, Donahue went on to successfully practice his craft as a surgeon for 20 years—first in Ireland and then the United States. So isn’t Donahue’s tale a classic rags-to-riches, American dream story? Hardly. Donahue was girded with nothing more than a Chicago School System GED and several counterfeit medical diplomas. It seems impossible—and understandably so—but it’s a story based on a Miami Herald Sunday edition front page exposé. An Oprah producer pursued the imposter for weeks, as did Bill O’Reilly. Simply put, Desmond Donahue’s story is a story that really happened.
A gripping story that is alternately shocking, heartbreaking, and unbelievable, The Wrong Road Home will leave readers spellbound. Ian A. O’Connor, an imaginative and skillful storyteller, paints a vivid portrait of a complicated, complex character who comes alive within the story’s pages. Reminiscent of Catch Me if You Can, The Wrong Road Home fuses elements of true crime, memoir, and drama. Groundbreaking, inventive and innovative, The Wrong Road Home is an extraordinary story exceptionally well told.