Dead Ringerby Allen Wyler
Whilst 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
Whilst 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. They operate a legitimate funeral business and make a fortune by selling recovered body parts to medical researchers. McCrae teams up with an unlikely paira beautiful but hardnosed female cop and a gang member whose family was victimized by the cadaver ringto try and expose a macabre web of corruption. It involves law enforcement, politicians, funeral home curators, and …. murdered prostitutes.
“In the tradition of Robin Cook, Wyler takes us behind the scenes to show us things the medical establishment doesn’t want us to see. DEAD RINGER builds a high-speed plot on a startling but all-too-plausible premise. This is the stuff nightmares are made of.”
—Joseph Finder, New York Times bestselling author of Paranoia and Buried Secrets
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By Allen Wyler
Astor + Blue Editions, LLCCopyright © 2012 Allen Wyler
All rights reserved.
A DARK, ILL-FORMED premonition punched Lucas McRae in the gut so hard it stole his breath. He froze, aware of something drastically wrong involving someone close to him.
Laura? Josh? Were they safe?
A second later it vanished, leaving only a lingering vague sense of foreboding.
He'd heard of stories like this—a mother suddenly awakened, knowing her son was just killed by an insurgent's RPG half a world away. He rejected these tales as nothing more than folklore. Mental telepathy—or whatever you wanted to call it—was scientifically impossible. But, Jesus, this thing, this awful feeling in his gut ...
"Dr. McRae, over here!"
Lucas looked toward the voice. To his right, over the roof of a taxi and beyond the hotel loading zone, Jimmy Wong waved from the rolled-down window of a red compact. A Toyota or Nissan, but a model that isn't available in the States. Thankful for the distraction, Lucas trotted over to the car. But the freefloating, ill-defined dread returned, burrowing in his gut.
He slid into the passenger seat, his skin already sticky from the thick tropical humidity and sinus-clogging smog. He buckled in and shut the door.
Wong Yiw-Wah, or Jimmy to Westerners, extended a hand. "Welcome to Hong Kong." The president of the Hong Kong Neurosurgical Society had a friendly, oval face of indeterminable age. Wong's temples had turned to gray, like Lucas's.
Lucas shook hands and said, "Thank you. It's an honor to be here."
Wong merged into morning rush hour traffic and accelerated. "Sorry our group cannot afford The Peninsula. Your hotel accommodations are adequate?" He spoke with a slight British accent. Lucas figured he'd probably been schooled in England.
"Yes, very nice. Thank you."
The Harbor View International Hotel was an okay, no frills, three-star place to sleep at night and shave in the morning. With spending the day at the meeting, a fancier place would've been a waste of money. It could be quieter, though. A rattling elevator door across from his room woke him repeatedly throughout the night.
"And your flight over?"
"Perfect." That was one of those white lies you tell a host.
"Sorry I was unable to meet you at the airport, but the operating theater became frightfully backed up and my case dragged on and on. Certainly, I don't have to tell you how those things go." Wong glanced over his shoulder, preparing to change lanes. "The car picked you up without a problem, I am told. True?"
"It did. Thanks."
Lucas had rolled in about eight last evening. He was dog tired, coated with a layer of stale sweat, and had eyelids that felt lined with sand. He didn't bother with dinner, just showered and then poured a minibar scotch to use as an Ambien chaser before hitting the sheets. The combination worked like a sledgehammer to his brain, putting him out within minutes. Otherwise, with the change in time zones, he would have been wide awake until just before time to get up again. Business trips. He hated the fatigue jet lag caused. Especially when you were expected to socialize at cocktail parties and dinners.
"Very good, then." Jimmy cleared his throat. "I hope you are up to demonstrating your skills today. Your audience will be keen to see you work."
Lucas nodded, but his mind returned to the god-awful premonition from moments ago. What was that all about? He tried to distract himself by watching the city's buildings fly by as Jimmy Wong sped down West Kowloon Highway. Hong Kong: a vertical city of breath-stealing Western architecture built to ancient feng shui standards. But hard as he tried, he couldn't shake it. Something bad had happened. What?
This wasn't stage fright. Demonstrating tricky surgeries had become second nature to Lucas. And was a well-earned byproduct of an international reputation. Years ago he experienced little shivers of anxiety at the start of a talk or a demonstration, but not anymore. Besides, this feeling was entirely different. It had nothing to do with the immediate future. Rather, he knew—just knew—something bad happened within the past twenty-four hours.
Again, he tried to ignore it and concentrate on today's tasks.
He had made a career choice years ago. Rather than being good at general neurosurgery, he became outstanding at a few extremely tricky surgeries. His expertise became a double-edged sword; he derived comfort from knowing his chances of screwing up were low because he had mastered the difficult techniques. The price, of course, was monotony from doing the same cases over and over. Not only that, but the subsequent notoriety forced him to become even more specialized. Initially, he took satisfaction in being referred problems no one else would touch. But he quickly learned the downside: fear. The high-risk cases were also the ones to very quickly and unexpectedly blow up in your face, leaving the malpractice lawyers licking their chops.
Today would be easy because he would be using a cadaver instead of a live person. So why did he feel like something terrible had happened?
Well, there was Laura. As it turned out, this trip couldn't have come at a worse time in their failing marriage and decision to talk to their separate attorneys. But this was not something he could have foreseen when invited to be the guest lecturer ten months ago. And truthfully, it was sort of nice to escape the tension for a few days.
The harder he tried to identify the cause of the foreboding, the more it danced away, like a familiar word on the tip of his tongue. Maybe it was just his imagination. He hoped so.
For a distraction, he asked Wong, "Your case yesterday, what was it?"
Queen Victoria Hospital, Hong Kong
AFTER THEY BOTH CHANGED into green scrubs, Wong led Lucas down the hall to the lounge of a classroom. A cozy room of blond wood paneling, industrial beige carpet, and two leather couches. 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 introduced Lucas to each surgeon, one of whom—an older man with the face of a bulldog—he'd already met. The guy had accompanied Wong to Seattle to watch Lucas in action. Two weeks afterward Lucas received an invitation to be the society's guest lecturer. Thankfully, Lucas remembered the man's name before embarrassing himself. Strange how the mind worked. As a premed student he memorized the periodic table, but at parties he forgot a person's name within seconds of being introduced.
For the next ten minutes Lucas made sure to spend a few moments chitchatting with each participant, all of whom had been trained with English as their second language. Then Wong ushered everyone into the classroom, a large utilitarian corner room smelling of overheated electronics and formaldehyde. The space had been laid out to optimize this type of demonstration and benefitted from natural light from two walls of windows. At the front was a table on a six-inch riser. The remainder of the room was filled with tables, each with two chairs on opposite sides. Suspended from the ceiling above each table were parabolic surgical lamps and two Sony HDTVs. Except for the televisions, this could've been one of his old classrooms in med school.
Wong led Lucas to the demonstration table where a blue surgical towel covered a cantaloupe-sized mound on a stainless steel tray. This, Lucas assumed, was the cadaver head he'd be using. Three boom-mounted HD cameras were aimed at the tray, one on each side with the third directly overhead. Similar cameras were set to monitor four other tables. Wong explained that the cameras would record the demonstration while providing the audience different close-up views of the dissection. Wong then asked Lucas to sign a recording release.
Lucas dropped into the chair and inspected the tray of surgical instruments. Central supply apparently provided the ones he'd requested. Like all surgeons, he had preferences. And like all surgeons, this bordered on superstition. Especially when working under the microscope.
After verifying each camera was sharply focused and recording, Wong nodded for Lucas to begin.
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 is by cutting through the back of the mouth. "I assume you've all read the articles I emailed Dr. Wong?"
They nodded in unison.
"Any questions before I start?"
They glanced at each other, but no one spoke.
"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 floor.CHAPTER 2
Lucas crouched on his haunches, the room swirling around him. He fought to keep the stench of his own vomit from triggering another retch. He wanted to move away from the mess he'd made but wasn't sure he could stand without passing out.
He felt a firm hand on his shoulder, heard Wong asking, "What's wrong? Dr. McRae, are you all right?"
Aw, shit ...
Another gut spasm hit. He dropped his butt onto the floor, put his head between his knees, and thought, Glad I'm in scrubs instead of my suit. In the next instant he realized how inane that last thought was.
"Are you okay?"
Lucas raised a hand, silently asking to stay like this for another few seconds. He sucked a deep breath. The room began to settle down. Something was sticking to his lower lip. He brushed at it with the back of his hand, glanced down, saw his hand covered with partially digested food chunks. The sight triggered another spasm. Thank God for gloves.
He felt stable enough to finally stand and pushed up without looking at the head. Then he was on his feet again, the room back to normal. Carefully, he stripped one glove into the other, forming a ball of latex that he dropped into a nearby wastebasket. After another breath, he stepped away from the pool of vomit.
The room was stone silent now, every eye on him.
Wong said, "Lucas, speak to me. What's the matter? Perhaps you should lie down. You're white as a sheet."
He realized Wong was holding his left arm, steadying him. For some reason Lucas noticed another man, the only other Caucasian in the room, standing in the doorway, watching. Where'd he come from?
On shaky legs, hands flat against the black soapstone counter, Lucas sucked down two more deep breaths in an attempt to clear the stench from his airway. "Sorry," he muttered and started to look down at the decapitated head. But stopped. Not yet.
"Are you all right? Can you continue?"
"One more second." Lucas raised a hand and glanced at the exit. "Where's the nearest men's room?" An then he couldn't keep the realization at bay any longer. It was Andy. His friend Andy, whose head he was just looking at.
"If you don't mind, I will accompany you." Wong led him through the lounge, down a hall to a door with a frosted glass window.
The lavatory was small with barely enough room for both of them. White tile walls, a stall, a urinal, a sink. Bending over the sink, Lucas splashed cold water over his face and lips. With cupped hands, he rinsed his mouth several times to wash away the foul gastric taste and clear the smell from his nose, but there was little he could do to get rid of the burning at the back of his throat.
Straightening up, he checked his face in the mirror, found it clean but more haggard than when shaving earlier. Matter of fact, he looked like shit warmed over.
"What happened? Are you ill?"
Lucas propped his butt against the sink, said "Oh, man," and patted his face again with a paper towel. He felt calmer now. How could his eyes play such a trick? He'd seen Andy just days ago.
"Should you lie down? Shall I take you to the Casualty Department?"
"No, that's not necessary. It's that ..." Lucas nodded toward the other room. He couldn't say the word head. "I thought I knew the person. But it can't be." What a huge understatement. He and Andy were best friends—that is, if you could manage to be best friends with someone your spouse hated.
Wong stared. "The specimen? You know him?"
The specimen. Jesus!
It dawned on him. That was what he'd always thought of it: the specimen. Never someone's head. But it was. And the one in the other room couldn't possibly be Andy's. Then again ...
"Surely you must be mistaken," Wong said incredulously.
"I know. I know. It's just he looks so much like him." He shook his head at the thought. Only days ago they'd been at Safeco Field drinking beer, watching the Yankees cream the Mariners, Andy cracking him up with sarcastic wiseass comments that Laura considered juvenile.
He felt more stable now but still shaky. Hopefully, he'd be able to think more clearly. "Tell you what, I can do the demonstration ... I just can't do it on that particular specimen. Can you have someone exchange it for me, please?"
Wong said, "Absolutely. Give me a minute."
As Wong left the small lavatory, Lucas removed his cell phone from his pocket and checked. He had a signal so he dialed. Andy's phone rang through to voice mail. What time was it in Seattle? Evening, maybe? Andy could be out.
"Andy, Lucas. Call me on my cell as soon as you get this." He rinsed his face again. While he was drying, the door opened and Wong said, "Let's get you a fresh pair of scrubs before you go back in."
* * *
As wong herded everybody back to their seats, Lucas slipped on a new pair of gloves. Someone had replaced the surgical towel over the specimen he would use and had cleaned up the mess around the table. The other surgeons sat at their tables, watching curiously, probably wondering what was wrong. Wong didn't explain.
Then slowly, carefully, Lucas pulled back the saline-soaked towel and this time saw the face of a woman, her hair clipped off but with black roots, relatively young. Lucas asked Wong, "These specimens, are they fresh or preserved?"
"They're fresh. No formalin."
Formalin, a saturated solution of formaldehyde, water, and another agent, usually methanol that is perfused through the body to replace blood. The preservative alone can distort tissues. Slightly. But that wasn't a factor here, and with the blood drained out the color was so ... dead.
Lucas sucked a deep breath, looked at his audience and said, "As I started to say ..."CHAPTER 3
Ditto's Funeral Home Inc. (DFH Inc.)
"MR. DITTO WILL SEE YOU NOW."
Wendy Elliott realized she'd been too engrossed in planning the interview to notice the woman approach. Now the matronly receptionist was standing directly in front of her, lips pressed into a forced smile, hands clasped primly at the waist. A dead ringer for Mrs. Thatcher, her sixth grade teacher, the one the boys swore had a corncob up her ass.
"Thank you." Wendy stood, smoothed her navy slacks, picked up her empty can of Diet Coke. She glanced around for a wastebasket. Seeing none, she held on to the can and followed the woman down a beige hall to a solid wood door. No sign or room number. The receptionist knocked softly before opening it and motioning for Wendy to enter. The woman kept a death grip on the doorknob as Wendy passed.
What immediately struck Wendy was the size of the office. On second thought, it wasn't the size—ten-by-fifteen feet at best—but the unobstructed view over Lake Union to Capitol Hill and downtown Seattle from a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows behind the desk. Tastefully decorated. Expensive. The showstopper was an ultramodern desk made from brushed metal. Aluminum, maybe. German design, she figured. No other designers could come up with something so industrially utilitarian yet so esthetically sensible. An Italian would've incorporated more flair, probably with some black lacquer and a rare, obscure burled African wood. To her, the room's only flaws were the framed posters, one of a thin-faced dude wearing a sports jersey and two Detroit Tigers posters. Why put sports posters in a room with such a lovely desk?
Excerpted from Dead Ringer 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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This was a fast and interesting read. The reason I gave it three stars was because of all the vulgar language on almost every page. I will be the first to admit that i drop the occassional f-bomb and that my language is far from stellar but this book goes above and beyond the boundaries of what is appropriate. The language is appalling and I find it funny that the filthy language starts about one or two pages after the sample ends. Other than the horrible language, it is a fast and easy read. I did feel like some ideas werent fully developed in the book and that the author didnt fully explain things a few times as well. Neat ideas though and quite a fun read.
This is the first book I have read by Allen Wyler. It was an interesting story and does make a reader think about how easy it could be for someone to harvest body parts for medical schools for the purpose of teaching. Neurosurgeon Lucas McRae discovers his best friend Andy Baer’s head is on his demonstration table in Hong Kong. At first Lucas thinks he is imagining it but when he gets home he is unable to locate him. His wife and Andy’s ex-wife could care less about what has happened to Andy; Lucas owes Andy to find out what happened. Also on the case is Detective Wendy Elliot who is already hot on the trail of a corrupt funeral director who might just have something to do with not only Andy’s disappearance but a whole slew of prostitutes. How can a small time funeral home be able to provide the amount of cadavers demanded by these huge corporations? The reader is aware just who the killer is and this does not take away from the plot but instead adds intensity. Wyler never goes in depth with the medical details making it appealing to novice readers yet a somewhat complex plot line that will attract even the advanced readers of medical thrillers. The characters are relatable to an average person and while I thought that some parts were a bit weak and the flashing back and forth from past to present to explain some relationships was distracting, I did enjoy the overall story. (ebook was provided by publicist for an honest review)
I wasn't prepared for the visceral impact it would make on me in the first chapters when Allen Wyler's protagonist, Dr. Lucas Macrae unwrapped his "fresh head" specimen for his brain surgery demonstration in Hong Kong and found the head of his best friend staring up at him. Wow! Huge impact for a novel and a great way to start this one running. It never stopped tearing down the proverbial tracks from that moment. Fast paced and relevant, this one had me on my toes. I've never experienced or heard of any of the matters this book covers so I was reading wide-eyed and riveted! Allen Wyler doesn't let go of his readers. He's not prepared, evidently, to let anyone up for a breath. "Dead Ringer" is non-stop thriller material. The story of body parts delivered for medical study and instruction is as creepy as it is fascinating. The mystery of how the body parts are procured is down right gory and spine shivering. I couldn't get enough of the book. Made me wonder about myself at times to be so fascinated! LOL His characters are crisp and charming...even the criminals are interesting and absorbing. The criminals sit right on the edge of disgusting, but were engaging enough to have kept me wanting to follow everything they were planning and doing. The young police woman was heroic as well as being brilliant and brave. Great role model for the prostitutes she championed. And, Dr. Mcrae was the epitome of a great friend, unrelenting in his search for truth; and, with the unstoppable curiosity of a scientist. Each of these characters was easily worthy of a book of their own so carefully were they drawn for the reader. Allen Wyler is an accomplished writer who takes us to the edge of reality and drops us into a horrendous scenario. Makes you wonder about cremation and donor programs and choosing your mortuary very carefully! This is a medical suspense novel that will find you tearing the pages off as you read it...so scary and moving along so quickly that you can't help gripping the book with blue fingers. Even when I put it down, I was thinking about it and having to talk about it with my husband. A book you have to talk about with others! I highly recommend this one. Can't believe a major publisher hasn't picked it up!
Dead Ringer is one of those books that grabs you right from the beginning and does not let you go until the last page has been turned. I started reading Robin Cook many years ago and got hooked on this type of story. Dead Ringer is about the body part business and how a good thing that can help many people with legally donated body parts, turns to something sinister and evil. All for someones greed for money. Allen Wyler is a gifted writer who is able to tell a great story with the knowledge that comes from experience. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, as a matter of fact as soon as I finished it, I went and bought the author's first book. Definitely a 5 star in my book!!
This was a new author for me. This was a very scary, exciting story!
I read this book and unfortunately for me I couldn't put it down. Fours hours later I was ordering the next book. The point of view of a neurosurgeon is an interesting one. The problems with government oversight and being mainpulated by law enforcement happens so often now, I could relate.
Really enjoyed this book...a fast page turner and keeps one wondering. I will be reading more of his books for sure!
To the writers of the reviews on Sept. 3, 18, and January 8, I love your reviews. So well written without giving away the story. People take notice, this is how a review should be written. I read every word and they convinced me this would be a good read. It was like a breath of fresh air reading a review the way it should be written. Thank you, thank you.
It was kinda dull and repetitive
From the premise alone I was excited to read Dead Ringer, and I’m glad to report that I wasn’t left disappointed. You’re pulled into the story from the first page. There isn’t a horrific back-story info dump, or drawn out, worthless descriptions of the setting. From the first page you’re met with a story in motion, nicely blended with description, dialogue, inner monologue, and setting. It was a pleasant change to read a book that moved at a good pace from the beginning. Writers write best when they write what they know, and Wyler did a superb job of doing just that. He has taken his expertise as a neurosurgeon and his love of thriller novels and used it to help craft a fantastic novel. The characters were wonderfully sculpted from the first page, showing us just enough to have the sense that we know them, without boring us with their entire life story. They all have their own voice and mannerisms, their own history and pain. They’re diverse, yet not so much that it would seem impossible for people like that to ever actually interact with each other. The plot pace was spot on, and that of a pro. Never once did I feel a lull in the plot or a moment where I lost my focus on the story. Not having read any of Wyler’s previous works, from his writing I can tell you that he’s a man that studies the craft, and puts what he has learned to good use. The twists come at the precise moment, and some even managed to surprise me. Overall this was a fantastic read. Wyler is a lover of this genre, and has the potential to rise above the rest as an author of the genre. I loved the character development, the plot twists, and idea of the story as a whole. Wyler has taken what, done poorly, could be a very cheesy idea and molded it into what should be a bestselling novel. I would recommend this book to any fan of thrillers, suspense, and even mystery. **I received a free copy for review
The book opens with gifted Neurosurgeon Lucas McCrae at a conference in Hong Kong. He is there to demonstrate a new procedure he developed and perfected. However, he gets a severe jolt when he discovers what appears to be his best friend’s head on his demonstration table. Lucas returns home only to find his friend Andy missing and nobody but Lucas seems concerned about this disturbing news. This story was easy to read and highly addictive. Once I began I did not want to put the book down because I was kept fully engaged. Lucas quickly became obsessed with finding Andy. This obsession led him finally to put together enough of the puzzle that one police detective began to suspect a correlation between a case she was investigating and Andy’s disappearance. Before long, Lucas and Sergeant Wendy Elliott are working jointly to unravel the baffling case. Meanwhile, Lucas must also contend with an unhappy marital situation that is swiftly deteriorating. The main villain in this story is positively inspired. Never have I encountered a fictional character so utterly slimy. Bobbie Ditto is an odd duck who works out an ingenious money-making system that perfectly fills a high-demand niche service. He takes recycling seriously and believes whole-heartedly that he is actually providing a much-needed service to society. He will terrify you. Lucas is a loyal friend, and as the narrative unfolds bits of his past come to light that help us understand his tenaciousness. In fact, all the main characters get similar treatments. Not to excess, but enough so that motivations and personality conflicts do become better understood. The story ended well; I felt satisfied and replete by the end. I received this book free from the author’s publicist in return for my honest review. Except for the free digital book, I received no additional compensation of any kind. Reviewed by Laurie-J
We start when Lucas is preparing to use a cadaver’s head to teach other neurologists a specific technique. When he uncovers the head, he is looking at his best friend, Andy. Becoming obsessed, he questions the courier about where the head came from. He also tries to get his wife and Andy’s ex-wife to check on Andy since he cannot seem to get him on the phone. When Lucas gets back to Seattle, he keeps looking for Andy. Not finding anything, he finally goes to the police to report a missing person. Detective Wendy Elliot used to work the streets as an undercover prostitute to catch John’s. While on the street, she become close to one of the girls, Lupita, when she was saved from a possible rape. Something has happened and Lupita has disappeared. There was a strange SUV that was called in to the police in an alley by where Lupita was working. The SUV belongs to Ditto’s Funeral Home. After interviewing Robert Ditto, something about him catches her eye. Wendy knows he had something to do with Lupita’s disappearance and is going to find out what. Robert Ditto came from a family of undertakers that had little. He is obsessed with not wasting anything and money. Since he runs a funeral home, he discovered that you can get good money for a cadaver. He has a plan where people can sign up to have the body donated to science for whatever experiment. When done, the body will be returned and cremated for free for the people. He targets low-income people with little money to help build business. But business is good and he has more requests for bodies than he can fill. This is a really good thriller. I feel for Lucas and Wendy. They are both trying to find someone that they care about that no one else does. Lucas also has been fighting with his wife and this just adds more fuel to the fire of things that are pushing her away. The only thing that I didn’t really like was the ending. It was very abrupt and probably would happen in real life. But it felt too abrupt. It almost felt like there was no other option to end the book. Beyond that, this is a really good book. I read Dead End Deal and really liked it. I enjoyed Dead Ringer and will probably read more of Allen Wyler’s books. If you like medical mysteries/thrillers, check out both of these books. I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.