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Dead Head    by Allen Wyler order for
Dead Head
by Allen Wyler
Order:  USA  Can
Forge, 2007 (2007)
* *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

A meticulously planned terrorist attack is left in limbo when one of the key players suffers near fatal injuries in a traffic accident. Determined that their colleague be able to follow through on his part of the strike, his co-conspirators kidnap neurosurgeon Russell Lawton from a medical symposium he's attending. With his daughter as a hostage, they demand that he use an as yet untried procedure to extend their co-conspirator's life long enough so that he can initiate the attack as planned.

While the injured terrorist's body rapidly deteriorates, Russell unsuccessfully tries convincing his captors that what they are asking is impossible. It's one thing to theorize about removing a human head and keeping the brain alive and active via computer hook-ups, but quite another to actually put the highly experimental and ethically questionable procedure into practice - and in less than ideal laboratory conditions. But Lawton's captors refuse to listen to reason and remind the doctor that if he ever wants to see his only child again, he should stop wasting precious minutes and comply with their demands.

Wyler, who is himself a brain surgeon, should be awarded high marks for coming up with a disturbing premise, and for incorporating plenty of graphic medical detail into the story in a way that's easy for the layman to understand. Severed heads connected to and controlling computers at an accelerated pace is something straight out of a futuristic science fiction or horror story.

Ultimately though, it's the terrorist angle that stretches the credibility meter to the point of no return: their demands, their implausible decisions and their hurried time frame were just unbelievable. The plot does recover to a point as the action ricochets towards an exciting conclusion that sees Lawton all but upstaging the FBI agents frantically searching for his daughter. Fans of medical thrillers, who can sufficiently suspend their disbelief, will enjoy Dead Head.

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