Dead End Dealby Allen Wyler
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World renowned neurosurgeon Jon Ritter is on the verge of a medical breakthrough that will change the world. His ground-breaking surgical treatment, using transplanted non-human stem cells, is set to eradicate the scourge of Alzheimer’s disease and give hope to millions. But when the procedure is slated for testing, it all comes to an abrupt and terrifying halt. Ritter’s colleague is gunned down and Ritter himself is threatened by a radical anti-abortion group that not only claims responsibility, but promises more of the same. Faced with a dangerous reality but determined to succeed, Ritter turns to a long-time colleague to conduct a clandestine clinical trial in Seoul, Korea. But after successful trials, Ritter and his allies are thrown into a horrifying nightmare scenario: the trial patients have been murdered and Ritter is the number one suspect. Aided by his beautiful lab assistant, Yeonhee, Ritter flees the country, and is now the target of an international manhunt involving Interpol, the FBI, zealous fanatics, and a coldly efficient assassin named Fiest.
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Dead End Deal
By Allen Wyler
Astor + Blue Editions, LLCCopyright © 2012 Allen Wyler
All rights reserved.
One Month Later
The buzz from the desk phone startled Jon Ritter. The sky was darkening, he realized, and streetlights now dotted the hill across Portage Bay. The phone buzzed again. He picked up, "Ritter here," and swiveled toward the window to watch traffic shoot by on the 520 interchange.
"Hate to bother you, Doctor. Officer Schmidt, campus police. I'm in S-1 and it looks like someone broke into your car. Can you come down and take a look, see if anything's missing so we can file a report?"
Aw, man ... He checked his watch. Already past seven, time to go home anyway. "Yeah, be right there." After grabbing the sports coat off the door, he checked to make sure his file cabinets were locked. He decided to pick up some Thai take-out on the way home to eat while watching the Mariners.
He was walking past the secretary's desk when Gabriel Lippmann called, "Good night, Jon," from the chairman's office.
He glanced into the office as he passed. Typical Gabe. Parked at his desk with stacks of paperwork. Always the last to leave but never the first to arrive. The only neurosurgeon in the department who no longer gowned up, leaving the younger partners with bigger case loads. In exchange, butt numbing meetings consumed Gabe's days. Well, Gabe could have it. To Jon, administration held zero appeal. He waved. "Night, Gabe," and continued out the door.
The elevator rattled and groaned down eight floors to the first basement level, jerked to a stop, hovered a moment before rising a half inch to be level with the hall floor. Third-world countries had better elevators than this. The door opened.
The car break-in was beginning to seep in now. There was nothing in the vehicle worth stealing, so the act itself was senseless and frustrating. And although the insurance company would pay to replace the broken window—assuming that's how they got in—it couldn't compensate for the inconvenience. More than that was the feeling of personal violation. As a student his apartment had been burglarized twice, giving this an all too familiar feel.
A left turn and a push through the metal security door took him into a tunnel to the parking lot, his footsteps echoing off bare cement. After passing through another fire door he could see his black Audi in the almost empty garage ... but where was the security officer? Strange, but the car showed no signs of damage either. Puzzled, he circled the vehicle. No damage, no officer.
Just then a man appeared from behind a round concrete pillar and aimed a gun at him, his face distorted by what looked like pantyhose stretched tightly over his head, the sight so out of context that it didn't register. The man said, "Got a message for you, baby killer. You listening?"
Speechless, Jon stared at him.
"Asked you a question."
Jon raised both hands in surrender. "Whoa, there must be some mistake—"
"No mistake. You're the bloke I'm after. And in case you aren't listening, here's the written version." He dropped a folded paper on the Audi's windshield. "No more baby killing.
You and your little queer friend are done. Understand?"
"Shut up. Simple enough. Stop work. Don't, and we'll kill you and Dobbs. See?"
A familiar voice called, "Jon? What's going on?"
Jon glanced over his shoulder. Lippmann was exiting the tunnel, heading toward them. Jon shouted, "Run. Get out of here. Call 911."
Lippmann stopped, looked at Jon's face, then at the gunman, then back to Jon before something clicked and he started to turn. Motion slowed. Dumbfounded, Jon watched as another man calmly stepped from behind a car, raised a gun, and fired almost point blank into Lippmann's chest. Lippmann stutter-stepped before going down into a heap.
Jon yelled, "Gabe!" and started toward him when a lightning bolt exploded his head, turning his world into a black void.CHAPTER 2
"Fuck a duck!" Nigel Feist slammed the heel of his palm against the steering wheel. The guard rails of the Alaskan Way Viaduct flew past, Elliot Bay in the distance, Feist putting as much distance as possible between them and the parking lot before the cops started to investigate.
Raymore Thompson said, "Dude, I'm telling you, we had no other choice. The hell we gonna do? Let that fucking geezer call the cops?"
We? Out the corner of his eye, Feist could see the hayseed wedged between the seat and passenger door, streetlights flashing off his disgusting tobacco-stained teeth. Feist slammed the steering wheel again, just to keep from back-handing the ignorant bastard. Bad judgment, agreeing to use this shit-kicker tonight. He knew better than to do it. So why the hell had he? Fuck! Intimidate was the mission. Not kill anyone.
"Well?" Thompson asked.
Okay, he could argue the point, but to what end? Raymore was too stupid to understand. Raymore. Who the fuck named a kid Raymore? Sounded like some kind of Georgia Cracker name.
Feist saw the sign for the West Seattle and Harbor Island exits and tripped the turn signal, letting the car drift into the right lane, deciding he needed to tidy up this mess straightaway before Raymore took them both down.
Since resigning as an analyst for Australia's Defense Intelligence Organization twenty years ago, Feist had grown his own consulting firm, a small company specializing in information gathering and disinformation. He never chose sides, simply provided services to anyone willing to cough up his high fees. Clients viewed his results as a godsend. Their targets leveled accusations of industrial sabotage, but nothing they could prove. His reputation included giving clients ultimate discretion. Never had one been exposed nor a project blown. Never had Feist or a client been forced to submit to questioning by a law enforcement agency. He attributed this exceptional record to following a strict set of rock-solid rules specifically engineered to keep him out of trouble. The most important of which was impeccable planning. A rule broken the moment he agreed to take Thompson on tonight's job. Fuck!
To make matters worse, Thompson probably couldn't survive ten minutes of police interrogation without incriminating himself and Feist. Which meant Feist's life was now at risk.
Feist asked Raymore, "What do you want to do when you quit working?" to distract him, get him thinking about something else.
"Me, I want to retire after maybe a few more jobs, kick back, enjoy life. You like motorcycles?"
"Never much thought about them. Why?"
"Got me a collection of Harleys, I do. Plan to take a cross country Easy Rider road trip on me classic Flathead. Start out in LA, cruise through the south, on up the East Coast, circle back over I-90. Maybe even schedule it for a stop at Sturgis for the festival." None of that would happen if he got nailed because of Raymore Fuckhead Thompson.
"What the fuck does that have to do with anything?"
"Just making conversation, is all."
Thompson whined, "The dude saw us, man, and he was going to run. The fuck was I supposed to do?"
Feist took the first of two adjacent exit ramps, the road angling down off the viaduct to Harbor Island to his right. Long loading docks, gigantic orange cranes, dented steel containers piled ten high in huge rows, a cruise ship's looming black hull dry-docked three blocks further west, railroad tracks and warehouses in the shadows ahead. The blue Toyota slowed while he scanned the deserted area for the best spot.
Feist said, "Maybe you got a point there, mate."
Thompson nodded. "Hell yeah, I got a point," with a note of relief. Then muttered something Feist couldn't make out.
Rather than ask him to repeat it, Feist just kept scanning the shadows. When he spotted a likely place up ahead, he nosed the rental off asphalt onto chip seal and gravel and slowed further, keenly alert for signs of another person in the area, but it appeared deserted. He pulled alongside a dark green SUV and cut the engine behind a squat, one-story, cinderblock building with sooty black windows and an oxidizing aluminum radio mast guyed to a flat roof. This would do.
"Get out." Feist stepped out, into the smell of diesel and drying barnacles and the steady hum of tires from the West Seattle Bridge overhead. A boat horn echoed across the harbor. Nothing moved and no one came from the shadows to investigate. No dog bark, no approaching crunch of tires, just the stillness of an industrial area locked up for the night.
"What?" Raymore asked, staying glued to the passenger seat, the whites of his nervous squinty eyes flashing in the weak fluorescent light.
Feist put a hand on the car roof and leaned into the interior. "Out. We're changing vehicles. That SUV there?" with a nod, "is what we'll be using." He walked over to the driver's door and pretended to fumble a key from his pocket.
Raymore whined, "Dude, you didn't say nothing about no change-up before now."
"That's right. I didn't. A contingency plan is what it's called. Not smart what you did, shooting that witness like that. Changes everything. Now fetch our gear and let's be done with it."
Thompson asked, "What gear?"
"Don't hear too well, eh? I said to get the fucking gear and stop whining." It took a supreme effort to rein in his anger.
Feist watched Thompson pop the trunk and hunch over, look this way and that like a fucking idiot. Before Thompson could straighten back up Feist tapped the gun to the back of his head and fired. Thompson went limp, half in the trunk, half out. Feist leaned in, nudged the barrel against his temple, and discharged an insurance round. Then, lifting Thompson's legs, he rotated the body sideways, dumping him completely into the trunk, and slammed the lid. Standing still, he listened for the sound of feet or tires approaching, but heard nothing. Using an oily rag, he meticulously wiped down every spot he'd touched, including common areas he wasn't sure of. After slipping on a pair of disposable exam gloves, he tossed the rag in a Dumpster and climbed back into the car.
Feist retraced his route onto the Alaskan Way viaduct, then south to the first Sea-Tac Airport exit. Drove US Highway 99 to a long-term airport parking lot, accepted a time-stamp ticket from a machine, cruised the lot for a spot as far from the pick-up point as possible. He nosed the car to within a foot of the cyclone perimeter fence, set the brake, and stepped out to look around. Only one other person waited at the pickup site. Feist tore up the ticket and stuffed the pieces in his pocket to dump later. Not much sense in letting anyone know your time of arrival.
Staying in the car shadow, he waited for the van to pick up the other customer. As soon as it drove out of the lot, Feist walked the street to an adjacent lot where he waited for the next van.
The courtesy van drove him to the airport departure zone, where he rode the escalator down to Arrivals/Baggage Claim. He bought a ticket for an Airport Express to the downtown Seattle Sheraton. Although the odds of a taxi driver remembering him were low, he figured it would be safer to blend in with a group of tired travelers on a van than to be a single fare in a taxi. Attention to details, regardless how insignificant, kept you from the jaws of the shark.
Forty minutes later, he dumped the keys to the rental car in a sidewalk waste bin two blocks from the hotel.CHAPTER 3
FBI special agent Gary Fisher eased the black Explorer past a clot of reporters and looky-loos and stopped next to the narrow guard booth in the center of the road. It had a peaked metal roof and Dutch doors on both sides to handle vehicles in either direction. Fisher lowered the window and flashed his creds at the campus cop leaning out of the booth. "FBI."
After a cursory glance and a nod, the officer pointed toward the large three-level parking garage ahead. "See where the road splits? Take the lower one down to the second level, go straight ahead. Can't miss it."
Ahead, the two-lane road divided, the left lanes slicing between the south side of the Health Sciences Building and the top floor of a subterranean parking garage. The right half curved away from the building before angling down into a cavernous cement garage. Following the cop's directions, Fisher entered the second of three levels and immediately saw a mix of University and Seattle Police cruisers thrown haphazardly together, most with their blue lights still flashing, several with doors open, adding a touch of chaos to the image. So far, the campus cops seemed to be doing a good job of keeping TV reporters at bay, but Fisher knew this wouldn't last much longer.
He parked on the periphery of the confusion and scanned the crowd of cops for Jim Lange, saw him talking to two uniformed campus police. He and Lange were assigned to the national task force hunting the Nuremberg Avengers, a group of militant anti-abortionists who claimed responsibility for blowing away two doctors and a nurse from three separate women's clinics during the past six months. A group of grade-A shitheads, far as Fisher was concerned; an opinion Lange shared.
As he approached Lange, Fisher saw a body on the oil-stained cement. His gut knotted. A week ago the Avengers had posted Professor Jon Ritter's profile on their website. But because those shitheads targeted so many individuals and institutions, it was impossible to access the level of threat to any one. He suspected that might be their strategy. Seeing a body on the concrete made apparent the difficulty of rooting out these guys.
Lange saw him approach, said, "Gary, like you to meet Lieutenant Helms and Officer Crawford, UWPD." Then to the officers: "Special Agent, Gary Fisher. The one I told you about."
Fisher shook hands and asked Lange, "What've you got?"
Lange nodded for Helms to answer; this was university jurisdiction. Although the campus was within Seattle city limits, the land remained state property with a sovereign police department. The FBI would take control only if this turned out to be Avengers related.
Helms said, "One homicide, one assault."
Fisher's gut knotted tighter. He asked Lange, "Ritter?"
Lange nodded. "Yeah, but he's the assault. The corpse," pointing at the body, "was just IDed as a university employee, name of Gabriel Lippmann. White male, sixty-seven. Apparently, Ritter's boss."
Fisher asked Helms, "How bad is Ritter?"
Helms shrugged. "No idea. Didn't see him. Paramedics say he was banged up a bit when they transported him. Head wound. Probably a concussion."
Fisher shifted his weight from one leg to the other and eyed Lange. "Who found them?"
"Guy's over there, in my car." Helms jutted his chin toward the blue Caprice police special.
The three men walked over. A man in his mid-forties was sitting in the back seat, door open, one foot dangling out. Helms introduced him to Fisher and Lange.
The witness explained that when he exited the tunnel from the research building he saw Lippmann lying in the middle of the entrance, so ran to him but on seeing Lippmann's chest wound, realized he was dead so called 911 on his cell. Wasn't until he was on the call that he noticed Ritter sprawled out several feet away. He didn't remember seeing anyone else in the area but admitted to being too upset to look all that closely. Fisher thanked him and then he, Lange, and Fisher moved away several feet to talk.
Fisher said, "You know for sure it's Avengers or is Ritter a coincidence?" Hoping it might be, improbable as that was. Shit! They couldn't guard every person on that list.
Lange said, "Nope, there's a note, just like the other times. Except this one's atypical."
Fisher was about to say something when he noticed a security camera above the door to the tunnel. To date, no one could give a description of an Avenger because their kills were done at long range with a hunting rifle. A video could be a game changer. With a nod toward the camera, he asked Helms, "That security camera, you view it yet?"
"Not yet. I've been too busy here. But I asked for the feed to be frozen until I get a chance."
Excerpted from Dead End Deal by Allen Wyler. Copyright © 2012 Allen Wyler. Excerpted by permission of Astor + Blue Editions, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
Brought up in Seattle, Allen Wyler’s parents died early which left him having to wholly support himself through college in a variety of ways – including serving as a drive-in cook and playing drums as a professional musician in various blues and jazz groups. Medicine was his chosen discipline and he went on to have a distinguished career in his speciality, neurosurgery, which he determined on very early in his studies. Serving on the faculties of the University of Washington and the University of Tennessee, he earned an international reputation for pioneering surgical techniques to record brain activity. In 1992, he was recruited by the prestigious ‘Swedish Medical Centre’ to develop a Neuroscience Institute. Ten years later, he left active practice to become Medical Director for a start-up Med-Tech company, and now chairs the Institutional Review Board of a major medical centre in the Pacific Northwest.In the early 1970’s Wyler developed a love of reading thrillers, and later decided to leverage his medical knowledge by writing himself. After the publication of his first two medical thrillers, ‘Deadly Errors’, and ‘Dead Head’, in 2005 and 2007 respectively, he retired from full time day to day medicine to devote more time to his writing. He has also served as Vice President of the ‘International Thriller Writers’ organization for several years.He and his wife, Lily, divide their time between Seattle and the San Juan Islands, and he continues to develop new plots from real-life situations met during his career. His writing has been described as ‘right up there with the best’ and on another occasion, developing a high-speed plot with a ‘startling but all-too-plausible premise’.
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A fast ride into the thrilling and dangerous world of scientific research. Jon Ritter seems to be having some really bad luck as a neurosurgeon turned researcher. Not only does his research come to a halt, he is assaulted and his friend and mentor killed. Ritter is then threatened by a group of extremists, but that does not stop him from connecting with a former colleague and moving his research abroad to Seoul, Korea. Ritter's dreams suddenly become a nightmare as the surgical transplant treatment in Korea goes wrong and his patients are found dead. Ritter suddenly finds himself running from the Korean police and now being charged with murdering his test patients. I found Dead End Deal a slow start that picked up speed after the surgical trials in Korea. However once it picks up it is a rush and continues non-stop to the end. I found myself anxious and nervous as Ritter runs around Korea trying to get back to the U.S. while being stalked not only by the police but also by an assailant unknown to him who has been making his life a living hell. Ritter's tail seems to have been provided by Richard Stillman. Stillman is a high flying sick executive who owns many companies amongst the medical corporation Trophozyme. Stillman only cares about filling his pocket and his only plans with Ritter are to destroy him and recover the research and procedures Ritter has been working on so he can claim them as his own. I really liked this plot and medical concept however I was confused and even stuck on why Wyler chose to sabotage Ritter's trials before they were even successful. I feel this book would have been so much better if Wyler would have held back at least until after the first transplant patients were showing positive results, then came in for the kill. But it just didn't make sense to me why so early. As it did not guarantee Stillman would even be able to take credit for something that had not yet been proven a medical breakthrough. Another improvement could have been used in Korea as I thought the scenes in Korea felt rushed. A more balanced mix would have been less on the thoughts of Ritter's assailant, more on the time Ritter spent in Korea with his colleague, and a focus on Ritter's relationship with the lab assistant Yeonhee, which I felt fizzled out the ending of the book.
Dead End Deal is a thought provoking new medical mystery written by neurosurgeon Allen Wyler. I received an advanced review copy of the book from the author's publicist for review. I am happy to state that it is a thrilling addition to the medical mystery sub-genre and I can't wait to read more from Wyler. The story opens with neurosurgeon Jon Ritter being confronted by 2 thugs as he is leaving his office. They demand that he stop his “baby killing” work even though Ritter uses non-human stem cells in his search to cure dementia. After Jon’s mentor is killed during the confrontation, the FBI becomes involved to track a terrorist group, the Avengers. The Avengers post the names of doctors who use stem cells on their internet list and Jon made the list two months prior. Since he is close to making a breakthrough and needs to do human trials, Jon pairs up with a Korean scientist he worked with a few years ago. Together they travel to Korea to continue the research but things take a turn for the worse there. Dead End Deal is very fast paced with many twists and turns. At times I felt the terror that Jon Ritter must have felt as he faced one problem after another. There is a level of personal danger here that I have never felt with other novels. Perhaps because this issue is constantly in the news it seems more real than the dangers posed in other thrillers. I can see myself getting caught in the crossfire just by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The characters are realistic albeit scary. The government actors come from the newspaper headlines and they create more terror than the terrorists as do the characters from the medicine fields. This would make a great series. While there are 2 previous books that Wyler published, I do not know if they are the beginning of a series. Wyler certainly knows how to craft a thriller and I expect a long writing career from him.
Using non-human stem cells, neurosurgeon Jon Ritter has developed a treatment to reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. His interest is not driven by ambition, greed, or even academic zeal; the grandmother who raised him developed the disease. Ritter fears that he may carry the heritable gene which could lead to early onset of the illness. Ritter had already turned down biotech CEO Stillman’s offer of position and high pay for the treatment; he didn’t like the greed associated with the biotech industry corporations. However, Ritter decides he must turn to Stillman for funding when it appears that a militant anti-abortionist group has threatened his life and killed his mentor. We readers know that Stillman himself is really behind the threats – he has hired an Australian ex-intelligence officer to dry up Ritter’s funding and scare him into agreeing to Stillman’s terms. The ensuing surgical trials in South Korea, the murdered trial subjects, the chase and attempts to arrest Ritter, his escape and attempts to return to the U.S. are thrilling. What struck me most was the urgent feel in the story to get back to the U.S. I came away thinking that I may never travel outside America again! Wyler does a great job conveying that trapped, lost feeling. Luckily, Ritter and his love interest Yeonhee creatively find ways to stay a step ahead of the Korean police and the assassin Nigel Feist. Readers don’t have to figure out that Stillman and Feist are the greatest threats because author Wyler lets us see from the beginning that they are the real bad guys. Ritter openly criticizes the FBI’s handling of his case; he seems justified when the agent sent to watch Ritter in Korea is so easily killed by Feist. Another view that struck me in the text is the opinion expressed about Korean men. Yeonhee’s thoughts and opinions are so strongly negative about their behavior and motivations in relationships and in their careers. Other than these insights, we aren’t given a feel for South Korea even though much of the story is set there. I would have liked more about the country; I would have also enjoyed a little humor if possible. There’s a little ironic humor in some of Feist’s thoughts and comments. He’s a hired thug, but he criticizes the business ethics of the Koreans – “no ethics, the whole lot of them”. Wyler’s descriptions of the camaraderie and total immersion of lab research sound engrossing, but friends in university labs have found that life to be just the opposite. For their sakes, I wish Wyler’s scenario of gripping teamwork and pure research were true. Obviously, many aspects of Wyler’s novel impressed me; there’s so much to comment on. Four Stars
Jon Ritter has spent the last ten years working on stem cell research in the hopes to cure dementia. On night as he is leaving his office, two guys approach him. They demand that he stop his “baby killing” work. When a Jon’s mentor happens into the confrontation, he is shot and killed. The FBI gets called in because of recent activities from the Avengers group. This is a radical group that puts different doctors that are working on stem cells on their “hit list.” Jon was placed on the list two months prior. Jon is in a panic and decides to accept an offer from Richard Stillman, leader at Trophozyme Corporation. Jon does not want to commercialize the cure, but feels there is no other way to continue trials, especially since they are on the verge of human trials. Jon strikes a deal with Richard to go to Korea and perform human trials with a scientist he worked with years before, Jin-Woo. But Jon is not free to go on with the trials. Shortly after agreeing to work with Richard, he is attacked again. Then he is followed to Korea where things take a drastic turn for the worse. Now Jon needs to try to get back home, clear his name from the murder charges, and figure out who is trying to stop his work. This was an interesting story. Here is this guy that is so driven to find a cure for dementia that he would leave the country and try to fly under the radar just to see it succeed. It’s amazing how fast things go wrong for him. There is great action and an interesting story. The running around reminds me of the Bourne stories. The only thing that I noticed was the story seemed to drag in some parts. It felt like you had to keep repeating that portion of the story before it skipped on to the next step. Beyond that, I thought it was a good story. If you like medical thrillers, you will really like this one. Now I’m going to have to read Allen’s other stories. I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.
Review: Allen Wyler's fast-paced medical thriller, Dead End Deal, is full of excitement and danger! I found the book slow-to-start, but the pace quickened with feverish intensity as the clinical trials/testing began. I never knew what to expect, one minute Jon was trying to cure Alzheimer's disease, and the next he was running for his life! The character development was good, I enjoyed getting to know, and empathizing with, the characters. I found Jon's character very interesting, especially since he was a neurosurgeon just like the author. Wyler did an excellent job explaining medical content in an easy-to-read-and-understand manner. I am a science person, so I don't mind technical jargon, but I appreciate his ability to make the science more clear-cut and engaging - not too bulky. Overall, I enjoyed most of the book - the plot-line was surprisingly well-written and action-packed, but there were some aspects that I didn't like. I would have preferred a little more mystery, a couple of chapters in you already know who is up-to what and why, (no spoilers). I enjoy solving mysteries, not being spoon-fed the answers, however, there were a few twists that I wasn't expecting. I also disliked the descriptions of Korea, I thought that they could have been more detailed, they felt very rushed and did not give me a "feel" for the country. I will be reading Wyler's other medical thrillers - Dead Head and Deadly Errors, and hope to read more from him in the future! Recommended for fans of fast-paced medical thrillers with intriguing plot-lines. Rating: Bounty's Out (3.5/5) *** I received this book from the author (Astor + Blue Editions) in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
This author does not let you down! The last half of the book I could not read fast enoigh!
First time reader of Allen Wyler, will read more of his books.
This book started a little slow, but once it picked up it was a great read. The author kept it interesting with just enough twists and turns without confusing the reader. Just bought another book by this author. Very pleased...