Dead Ringer by Allen Wyler
Review by Lauren
copy sent for review, but all opinions are my own
Official Summary: 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.
Review: I've been reading a lot of detective, mystery type novels lately. I suppose part of the blame is my detective fiction class but I do really like these novels and I'm glad to have the chance to check out some newer titles in the genre. Dead Ringer is no exception. Lucas McCrae is not a detective, but when it comes to the people he loves, he will stop at nothing to find out the truth...and then exact revenge for any wrongdoing.
The story behind Dead Ringer was very fascinating and I did like getting a look at people that would sell body parts for money (often collecting these body parts in ways that are less than legal). They are horrible, but yet oh so interesting to read about. The whole cast of characters in this book were actually really intriguing to read about. Lucas and his wife Laura are on the edge of a divorce, yet Lucas wants it to work so much. His best friend, Andy, is missing and he thinks he saw his head in Hong Kong but can't prove it. Even while not present, Andy was a fully realized character, especially with the use of flashbacks/memory scenes. Then you have the owner of the funeral business and his partner, army vets that are full of hate, and yet they have a very unique side to them that I think people will find shocking and interesting at the same time. Finally, you get the cop, Wendy, who is willing to fight for what she believes in, even if that means wiggling around the law she works to uphold.
Anyway, I don't want to go on and on about the things that you just have to read the book to understand, but I do like that the author uses his expertise (he's an internationally renowned neurosurgeon) in creating a character like Lucas and a story like this that deals so heavily with the medical world, whether legal or not. It definitely provides an aunthenticity you don't always get in books.
I should mention that the blurb on the cover says, "this is the stuff nightmares are made of" which makes Dead Ringer sound like some horror novel, when it's really not. Yes, it's a bit creepy, but nothing that made me think "I shouldn't read this at night" or anything. If you get scared or freaked out really really easily, then maybe skip it...but I think it's something that's more intriguing mystery than scary mystery.
Finally, I do have to say that while the end is shocking in a big way, it was also really cool and different!