I had never heard of Allen Wyler before being sent his previous novel to review, but having read that one I was happy to review this one when asked. Wyler is a former, highly regarded surgeon, who made the unlikely switch to crime writing after realising that is where is new passion lay. His latest novel, Dead Ringer, centres around the macabre world of body snatching. I enjoyed the previous novel and was very much hoping that this one wouldn’t let me down.
The novel centres on Lucas McRae who is a world renowned and highly talented neurosurgeon who is in Hong Kong to conduct a medical demonstration when he sees that the human head that he has been provided to work on is that of his long time best friend. There is a huge cover up, but Lucas determines to find out the truth at all costs. His quest leads him into both danger and the arms of a female police officer, DS Wendy Elliot, who believes his seemingly far-fetched story because she thinks her friend might also have been a victim of the same crime.
The story does seem on the face of it, to be more than a little far-fetched and I thought the same when I first read the synopsis, but Wyler has enough experience in the field to make it totally believable, even as a work of fiction. I was worried that, being that he is an expert in the field, the story telling might be far too technical, but it was an unfounded worry. Wyler has an excellent way with words and a storytelling ability that means he is able to tell you enough to understand he story but not so much that it becomes a chore to read.
The story is fast paced and it does keep you interested. I have a slightly warped sense about me sometimes – I love reading about Jack the Ripper for instance and true life crime fascinates me – so the idea of body snatching for business seemed right up my street. I found the story gripping and I read it easily in a day at the side on the pool on holiday.
The characters are very likeable, or dislikeable as the situation might dictate. Lucas McRae is a strong character, although he does have his weaknesses, which makes him believable and perfect as the main protagonist in this story and the relationship that develops between him and Elliot is also a good one. It isn’t forced and cheesy like these sub-story relationships can be. They are two strong characters who work well together and are interesting to read about. There are, as you would expect, a couple of bad guys in the story and they are equally well written. Smarmy enough up front to cast doubts, but creepy and devious enough behind closed doors to keep the level of intrigue throughout the book.
The book is available for download through Amazon at £3.13. At this price and even twice that, it is definitely worth it. It is a great story in the crime thriller genre and the somewhat grisly theme makes it quite unique and disturbingly interesting. Recommended.