Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Allen Wyler Goes Beyond Medical Thriller into Psychological Suspense in Latest!

Queen Victoria Hospital, Hong Kong
"After they both changed into green scrubs, Wong led Lucas down
the hall to the lounge of a classroom...Eleven scrub-clad surgeons
were milling around, chatting animatedly, most of them holding white
styrofoam cups of steaming tea. The drab sameness of hospitals struck
Lucas. This could be anyplace in the world--Cincinnati or Calcutta--
and he wouldn't be able to tell the difference. Well, except for the
Chinese characters on the plaques covering a trophy wall...
"Wong led Lucas to the demonstration table where a blue surgical
towel covered a cantaloupe-sized mount on a stainless steel tray.
This, Lucas assumed, was the cadaver head he'd be using...
"Standing behind the table, Lucas addressed the group. "The first
demonstration will be the anterior approach to the Clivus."
A tricky way to reach the base of the brain by cutting through
the back of the mouth...
"As with any craniotomy, it's extremely important to plan your
incision correctly." Lucas picked up a Sharpie in one hand and a
corner of the towel with the other.
"As he withdrew the towel, Lucas said, "We start the incision
here," and looked down at the head. He froze. For three long
seconds he was unable to tear his gaze from the gray, bloodless
skin. Then he spun away, spewing vomit on the wall and the
Dead Ringer

By Allen Wyler

I was surprised at the amount of information provided in the book description, so decided to work more indepth into content and characters... For a quick reference, here's what it says on Amazon:

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 with the shock by what’s staring back at him: 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 hard-nosed female cop and a gang member whose family was victimized by the body parts 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, and delivers a horrifically plausible, page-turning thriller.

"By the time Lucas removed the key from the front door,
Laura was halfway down the block, not having bothered
to wave goodbye. Welcome home. He watched the Volvo
round the corner and disappear. He'd forgotten what it
was she was going to do. Meet one of her girlfriends, maybe.
Was that one of the problems? Not paying as much attention
to what she said, his mind too busy with other things?
"With a mixture of sadness and frustration, he carried his
suitcase inside the modest two-story remodel that had
originally been a one-level rambler. The upstairs master
bedroom provided a southeasterly view over multiple
layers of rooftops to the downtown Seattle skyline. The
panorama wasn't as grand as the multimillion-dollar
homes two blocks away on Magnolia Boulevard, the first
tier above the bluffs, but he loved it. Seattleites
appreciated views regardless of limitations
"He went to the phone and called all three of Andy's
numbers. No answer. Go over to his condo? If he was
there, he'd answer. So what next?..."
When a neurosurgeon turns to writing as a career choice, you probably immediately realize, as I did, that the main character would be a neurosurgeon. What better way to share your expertise as well as provide insights into what is happening in the medical fields...

At first I thought this was going to get deep into the medical aspects, which I was not sure about--you know, once you hear about selling dead bodies, you can either turn it into a horror...or...

Hone in on the characters. I'm certainly glad Wyler chose the latter.

Lucas McRae has reached the top of his field, having such expertise in his surgical skills that he is called upon not only to handle the toughest cases, but to teach others how to perform the surgeries.

But what has resulted in his personal life is that he's being consistently requested for these same type of operations over and over--dare I say to the point that he's becoming bored? He's also being requested to teach all over the world and traveling takes up much time.

So much so that his marriage is becoming rocky...

But he loved his wife and readers will learn much about his feelings, his concerns, his worries about how to revive their relationship. Unfortunately, one of the issues that has been a trouble spot since they were married is Lucas' best friend, Andy Baer. Lucas and he had been friends since grade school and Andy had been there during many times that Lucas needed a friend to keep him out of trouble.

But as sometimes happens when two friends marry, their wives become friends and when there is trouble, all four soon know about it and sometimes takes sides. That's what Lucas' wife did when Andy started going out on his wife.

The fact was that Andy knew he was a sex addict and had tried counseling, etc., but had always fallen back into finding prostitutes to be with.

That is what happened the night he disappeared...

After which, his head wound up in Hong Kong, as the specimen that Lucas was supposed to use in his training lecture... Of course, Lucas was going to find out what happened, even though he had had the head removed and couldn't be really certain it was Andy. But when he came home, he started immediately trying to find him and had even called his wife before he left to have her try to find him.

He didn't really think she would try...and when he got home and asked, he knew she was lying to him. Then, it got worse when he refused to take their vacation and instead stay to try to find Andy. As Lucas tried harder, his wife grew more remote, until...

The suspense of the police investigation is very well done, but the psychological suspense through which this neurosurgeon went was the fascinating part for me this time. Often a doctor's career leads to a dissatisfied marital relationship in stories, but adding boyhood loyalty and friendship, guilt, and his inability to recapture love are significant attractions for the readers as well. Put together, this is a thoroughly enjoyable novel, albeit with a couple of characters you'll hate... With a quite satisfying ending for me! Agree?!


Note: This is one of the books now on sale through January 7th...

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.

Leveraging a love for thrillers since the early 70s, 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 and Dead Head, 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.

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  1. Wow. Definitely intriguing and disturbing. I think I might like this.

  2. Go for it Sheila--I agree that this would entertain you...