Thursday, November 8, 2012

Allen Wyler: Dead Ringer

Allen Wyler is a neurosurgeon and teacher of neuroscience and has now decided to try his hand at a medical thriller that will have you questioning what happens to your body after you die:      

Dr. Lucas McCrae is a well respected neurosurgeon who has managed to specialize in some very difficult specific surgeries, therefore, he is often sought after to give demonstrations world wide. Right now Lucas is in Hong Kong getting ready to demonstrate the techniques he has mastered, but he has felt a pit in his stomach since he got there, he knows something is wrong, but he must do the demonstration. Lucas requires a fresh dead human head to demonstrate his techniques and Lucas never expected to know the person whose head he was going to demonstrate on, but when he removes the sheet he finds himself staring at his best friend Andy. Lucas does not understand maybe it was just a trick of the light or someone who looks similar to him but when he returns home to Seattle he is unable to find Andy and discovers that he has been missing over a week. Lucas starts to ask questions to the wrong people, which put him and those he loves in danger of being an unwillingly participant on the operating table.

I have never heard of Wyler before reading this novel, but he appears to have published quite a few books. Dead Ringer is his fourth book and a fifth that has just been released. These books a definitely medical thriller books, which not surprising as Wyler is writing what he knows about, which is the medical world more specifically the world of  a neurosurgeon. Now I know that a few of you have already decided this book is not for you as soon as you saw the word neurosurgeon think that this novel is going to be filled with medical terms and jargon that individuals outside of the medical community would not be able to understand. Do not worry, Wyler does a very good job in keeping the medical terminology and techniques to a minimum. The medical side is not at the forefront of the novel, it is a means for discovery, by the mystery aspect of this book is what is focused on. This book will creep you out right from the first chapter and it will make you think twice about what has happened to your love ones once they have been shipped off to the funeral home. I know if I was in Lucas' shoes at that beginning of the book I would have reacted the same way.

Wyler has taken a 1800s murders and tale (Click for more info about the Burke & Hare Murders) and revamped and modernized it, but the premise has essentially stayed the same; body parts living or dead are worth money, lots of money and why shouldn’t someone capitalize on that. I think that Wyler did a good job adapting to the current times and the changes that has occurred within a society in regards to the changes in religious beliefs as well as the increased popularity of cremation. I think that the way in which Diller and Gerhard’s run their business is really genius, as there is very little chance of detection.

When an author writes a novel where the reader knows the killer before the detective it can be seen as a positive or negative to the reader and I think that this is based around personal preference. For me it goes on a book by book basis, however, my overall preference is to attempt to discover the killer myself. In this novel you do know who the killing team is right from the beginning, but the investigator also has an eye on the same target, so you are not waiting for the investigation to catch up to what you already know. You are more waiting for the investigators to discover enough evidence to arrest the killer. This aspect did have some positives and negatives around it as well. I enjoyed learning about Diller and Gerhard as a killing team and their separate motives for what they do as well as their interactions with each other. However, it took a very long time for Lucas to determine a key piece of evidence that would help them out (one that I was able to think of right off the bat), so I was a little bit frustrated with this part of the investigative part. But overall I do not think that the book was hindered by kowning who the killers were upfront

I think this was an interesting read that will make you think twice about what will happen to you or your loved one's body at the funeral home. I found that Wyler was able to keep my attention but there were a few cliché aspects in the book and overall it is a good book and quick read. I think that those individuals who are fans of the medical thriller/mystery genre would enjoy Dead Ringer and I personally would read another novel by Wyler.

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  2. Hi J-9,

    Great review, I've just followed you! :)

    J.H. Myn