Thursday, October 11, 2012

Dead Ringer by Allen Wyler

In Dead Ringer, neurosurgeon Dr. McCrae sees the head of his best friend at a medical conference demonstration in Hong Kong. This is unsettling, to say the least because the last time he saw his friend, Andy, he was alive and well and living in Seattle. McCrae later discovers that Andy is indeed missing. To get to the bottom of it, McCrae gets together with Sergeant Wendy Elliott and a gang member, Ruiz, whose sister is also missing. The three determine that a funeral home is murdering prostitutes and their johns then selling off their body parts for medical research -- a lucrative, but sleazy, adventure involving crooked cops and greedy funeral directors.

I enjoyed this book. Actually, a lot more than I thought I would. I found the premise interesting, but, quite honestly, because it wasn't a review book that came from a major publisher, I thought it might be mediocre. I admit, I judged a book by its cover and its source and was wrong.

Like I said, I liked the premise. A bit on the gruesome side perhaps, but interesting nevertheless. The book was well-written, fast paced and suspenseful. The author kept the story moving along by using short chapters and frequently changing the setting and character focus. I stayed up past my bedtime a couple of time reading this page-turner.

I learned a little about medical research while reading this book. Well, at least it made me think. I never really thought about it before, like where the specimens/body parts come from. Now, that I've thought about it, I think I'll stop thinking about it. It's kind of macabre, especially the way it was handled in this story. I just hope that in real life, it's handled properly and with utmost respect.

I do have one complaint about the book; the language. The swearing, at first, seemed excessive and over the top. It did calm down as the story continued. I know it was used to set the scene and give insight into the characters, but it felt gratuitous. I should say that swearing doesn't usually bother me when it's warranted. The other thing was the racial slurs. It's one thing to generalize and say something derogatory about a whole race of people; it's another to use an offensive term in doing so. Again, it emphasized the characters' mindset, but that could have and SHOULD have been done differently. I hadn't seen or heard some of those terms in years, probably for good reason.

This book might not be for everyone. The squeamish, sensitive reader should be wary. Otherwise, recommended. I'd definitely read another book by this author.

For more information about this book, please visit Astor + Blue's website.

Thanks to Lauren from Blue Dot Literary for this review copy.

Dead Ringer by Allen Wyler, Astor + Blue Editions, ©2012. ISBN 9781938231148(Advance Reader Copy), 324p.

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