Dead End Deal by Allen Wyler
Posted by Krystal Larson at 11:54 PM Monday, July 9, 2012
World renowned neurosurgeon Jon Ritter is on the verge of a medical breakthrough that will change the world. His groundbreaking 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 his long-time colleague, corporate biotech CEO Richard Stillman, for help. Together, they conspire to conduct a clandestine clinical trial in Seoul, Korea. But the danger is more determined, and more lethal, than Ritter could have imagined.
After successful surgical 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, now the target of an international manhunt involving Interpol, the FBI, zealous fanatics and a coldly efficient assassin named Fiest.
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.
*Reviewed by Colleen*
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