Millinocket native preps second novel, stars in PBS TV segment

Posted Oct. 04, 2012, at 7:46 p.m.
Peter Cummings, Boston medical examiner, in Maine for the Joyce McLain exhumation on Aug. 28, 2008.
Courtesy of Cummings family
Peter Cummings, Boston medical examiner, in Maine for the Joyce McLain exhumation on Aug. 28, 2008.

Authorities find the mutilated bodies of U.S. soldiers in woods surrounding a remote military installation in Eastern Europe. They believe the soldiers died in a random animal attack, but the evidence tells a much more sinister story.

Thus begins the latest fictional adventure of Dr. Benjamin Hawk, a forensic pathologist who happens to rather closely mirror Dr. Peter Cummings, the Millinocket native who created him. The Boston-based forensic neuropathologist has finished his second thriller novel and will be on the PBS show “NOVA scienceNOW” on Oct. 17.

The author of “The Neuropathology of Zombies” (Sinister Press, 2011) promised that his second novel, “The Seven Stars,” will take Hawk into another area of the horror genre that Cummings enjoys so much.

“The thing about the character is that I want to take him to a place where we [eventually] look at all the things that go bump in the night. He is not just a zombie slayer,” Cummings said Thursday. “He will encounter a new creature for him, lurking in the shadows.”

And, as with his first novel, the second book in the trilogy — which will be published in a few months — places a very strong emphasis on using Cummings’ medical education to realistically illustrate how monsters can be created.

“It is still going to be a science book — the science of the next monster and what is causing these changes,” Cummings said.

The “NOVA scienceNOW” segment concerns how bodies change in the immediate aftermath of death, Cummings said. In it, he demonstrates on the show’s host, David Pogue, several instruments used to determine times of death.

“It was a lot of fun,” Cummings said.

Cummings earned praise from state police and noted forensic experts Drs. Henry Lee and Michael Baden when he assisted them in their autopsy of homicide victim Joyce McLain of East Millinocket in 2008.

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