Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Dead Ringer by Allen Wyler: Interview & Review


While speaking at a Hong Kong medical conference, neurosurgeon Dr. Lucas McCrae slips the cloth off a cadaver’s head during a routine medical demonstration, and is overwhelmed by what’s staring back at him: The face of his best friend, Andy Baer. 

Stunned, McCrae races back to Seattle to discover that Andy is in fact missing and may have been murdered by a gang of body snatchers who operate a legit funeral business and make a fortune by selling recovered body parts to medical researchers.  

McCrae teams up with an unlikely pair—a beautiful but hardnosed female cop and a gang member whose family was victimized by the cadaver ring—to try and expose a macabre web of corruption that involves law enforcement, politicians, funeral home curators and murdered prostitutes. 

Internationally renowned neurosurgeon Allen Wyler takes us deep into a nightmarish scenario, shockingly ripped from recent headlines, to deliver a horrifically plausible, page-turning thriller.

Kindle  |  Paperback  |  Nook  |  Goodreads

4.5 Stars

The book opens with gifted Neurosurgeon Lucas McCrae at a conference in Hong Kong.  He is there to demonstrate a new procedure he developed and perfected.  However, he gets a severe jolt when he discovers what appears to be his best friend’s head on his demonstration table.  Lucas returns home only to find his friend Andy missing and nobody but Lucas seems concerned about this disturbing news. 

This story was easy to read and highly addictive.  Once I began I did not want to put the book down because I was kept fully engaged.  Lucas quickly became obsessed with finding Andy. This obsession led him finally to put together enough of the puzzle that one police detective began to suspect a correlation between a case she was investigating and Andy’s disappearance.  Before long, Lucas and Sergeant Wendy Elliott are working jointly to unravel the baffling case.  Meanwhile, Lucas must also contend with an unhappy marital situation that is swiftly deteriorating. 

The main villain in this story is positively inspired.  Never have I encountered a fictional character so utterly slimy. Bobbie Ditto is an odd duck who works out an ingenious money-making system that perfectly fills a high-demand niche service.  He takes recycling seriously and believes whole-heartedly that he is actually providing a much-needed service to society.  He will terrify you. 

Lucas is a loyal friend, and as the narrative unfolds bits of his past come to light that help us understand his tenaciousness.  In fact, all the main characters get similar treatments. Not to excess, but enough so that motivations and personality conflicts do become better understood.  The story ended well; I felt satisfied and replete by the end.   

I received this book free from the author’s publicist in return for my honest review.  Except for the free digital book, I received no additional compensation of any kind. 

Reviewed by Laurie-J


Welcome, Allen.  I am thrilled to have you as my guest author today and look forward to finding out a little more about you.  I appreciate you taking time for this short interview.

How did you start your writing career?

I’d always loved to read and romanced the idea of writing my own book from the time I was a teenager. But medical school and residency took so much time that it seemed to be an impossible dream. One day, after a particularly difficult surgery, I drove home from the hospital thinking, “The only way I’m going to get a chance to write a book is to start.” That evening I sat down and wrote the opening paragraph to my first book. It was so awful that that manuscript never saw the light of day. But it was a start. I’ve never regretted taking that step.

Tell us about a favorite character from a book.

My favorite is Bobby Ditto, the bad guy in Dead Ringer. You gotta love him because he’s environmentally sensitive and believes in recycling. But to a fault. I really had a great time developing him.

I’ll say.  I can see why he would be a fun character.  He’s certainly an odd duck. One of the most unusual bad guys I’ve encountered.  Complicated in a sort of funny way. Tell us about your current release.

Dead Ringer deals with the lucrative market in body parts and the potential for this business to be abused. It’s a fast-paced thriller that begins in Hong Kong and ends in Seattle with a strong sense of danger and some pretty interesting characters.

Tell us about your next release.

Dead Wrong should come out late this fall. Imagine sitting at your in your office, you look up and see two men aiming a gun at your head while accusing you of a crime you didn’t commit. How do you escape certain death? Well, it isn’t easy. I think this is one of my favorite stories because it goes from 0 to 60 instantaneously and doesn’t let up until the very end.


Who is your favorite author?

John Sandford is probably my favorite, followed closely by Michael Connelly and Robert Crais.

When in the day/night do you write? How long per day?

I’m a morning person and like to knock off three to four hours every morning, seven days a week. I really have a hard time concentrating for longer than that. Being retired from surgical practice now gives me the luxury to devote my time to writing instead of showing up in the operating room. I still do a lot of technical writing along with my fiction.

What is the hardest part of writing your books?

Coming up with a fresh idea. I can come up with tons of ideas, but as soon as I begin to flesh them out, I can quickly see too many similarities to other stories. It’s true that there are only a limited number of actual plots, and, in fact I tend to write “chase” or pursuit stories, but the hardest part of putting them together, is finding a fresh way to weave the tale.

Where do you research for your books?

Because my stories deal with medicine and the brain and comes from my own experiences, the research is the easiest part of my work.

How do you describe your writing style?

Fast paced, pithy writing that is heavily plot driven.


Allen Wyler is a renowned neurosurgeon who earned an international reputation for pioneering surgical techniques to record brain activity.  He has served on the faculties of both the University of Washington and the University of Tennessee, and in 1992 was recruited by the prestigious Swedish Medical Center to develop a neuroscience institute.
In 2002, he left active practice to become Medical Director for a startup med-tech company (that went public in 2006) and he now chairs the Institutional Review Board of a major medical center in the Pacific Northwest.
Leveraging a love for thrillers since the early 70’s, Wyler devoted himself to fiction writing in earnest, eventually serving as Vice President of the International Thriller Writers organization for several years. After publishing his first two medical thrillers Deadly Errors (2005) and Dead Head (2007), he officially retired from medicine to devote himself to writing full time.
He and his wife, Lily, divide their time between Seattle and the San Juan Islands.

 Website  |  Amazon  |  Goodreads



Medical research has always been a cornerstone of medical innovation, and thus of our society. But throughout history, many suspect that the gathering of human bodies for research has never been purely ethical or legal. Many believe that today, sophisticated international syndicates exist that traffic in body parts for medical research; the most recent incident appearing in the New York Times just weeks ago. (http://nyti.ms/NfU5kU 

We feel this crime has been elusively clandestine, easily dismissed, and in many cases overlooked for cynical reasons. We would like to go on record as agreeing with ethics scholars that everyone involved in the medical community, be they students practitioners, media or affiliates should remain vigilant and forthright; and embrace the high standard of responsibility inherent in the ethical conduct of medical research, especially when it involves human remains. 
Heart Stopping Medical Thriller Takes On
True-to-Life Body Snatcher Syndicates
Recent Newspaper Headlines Confirm Horrifying Premise

"In the tradition of Robin Cook, Wyler takes us behind the scenes to show us things the medical establishment doesn’t want us to see. DEAD RINGER builds a high-speed plot on a startling but all-too-plausible premise. This is the stuff nightmares are made of."
-- Joseph Finder, New York Times bestselling author of Paranoia and Buried Secrets
“…Wyler does for hospitals what Benchley did for the ocean.”
--Joe Moore, Co-author of the International Bestseller, The Grail Conspiracy
Neurosurgeon Allen Wyler knows of what he speaks, and writes, and the result is a thriller that equals and updates the best of Robin Cook and Michael Crichton.”

--Jon Land, bestselling author of Strong at the Break

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