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March 13, 2007

Book Notes - Allen Wyler ("Dead Head")

The Book Notes series has authors create and discuss a music playlist that is in some way relevant to their recently published books.

Allen Wyler is uniquely qualified to write medical thrillers, formerly a practicing neurosurgeon himself, so it is no surprise that his second novel, Dead Head, centers around a head transplant. Not content with the mere suspense of a neurosurgeon forced to perform such delicate and groundbreaking surgery, Wyler weaves terrorism, family kidnapping, and world politics into a fast-paced and credible plot.

In his own words, here is Allen Wyler's Book Notes essay for his novel, Dead Head:

Picking appropriate songs for a pulp fiction thriller is daunting, okay? So, here’s the plot line. Russell Lawton, a neurosurgeon specializing in brain/computer interfaces (sensors that translate brain electrical activity into commands that control robots) is given an ultimatum by terrorists: detach their dying leader’s head, keep it alive and communicating (to put the finishing touches on an attack against the United States equivalent to 9/11) or they will kill his only child, Angela. So, visualize a suspended head talking through a computer. With that in mind (no pun intended) I’ll take you through several songs.

Jessie Colin Young, Trouble

Jessie wrote this song after two pivotal events in his life – the fiery destruction of his beloved California ridge-top home and the 9/11 attacks.

Lyle Lovett & George Duke, Pass Me Not

Reminds me of when Russell is locked in a small room awaiting, he suspects, his execution. This spiritual evokes the helplessness and resignation he must have felt then.

Luther Allison, Everything Gonna Be All Right

Allison recorded several blues albums from the 70s up to the early 90s. These lyrics went through my mind as Russell drives to where he believes the terrorists are holding Angela.

Joe Cocker, Another Mind Gone

What can I say? The opening lyrics: “Feel the truth come shining through. Soon there'll be, there'll be no place to turn to. In the light of the day, so far away from anything, anything that we've been used to….” Sorta says it all.

Albert Collins, MasterCard

Albert Collins wrote this song with his wife Gwendolyn. It’s about this guy who gives his wife a MasterCard and she goes nuts using it. I love the song. It inspired a bit of Russell’s dysfunctional wife as I fleshed out the character.

Albert King’s Angle of Mercy

Describes Russell as he tried to find a way out of his situation.

Albert King’s Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven

Points out our desires – “Everybody wants to go to heaven, but no one wants to die.”

B.B. King’s Better Not Look Down

This song gives the message of keeping on, keeping on no matter what obstacles you may encounter.

There Is Something On Your Mind

A great blues recorded by several artists. I first heard it done by Bobby Marchan. More recently BB King and Etta James did a killer version on King’s Blues Summit CD.

Ray Charles Tell the Truth

In his quest to discover where the terrorists are hiding Angela, Russell must sort fact from fiction.

Jessie Collin Young, Peace Song

Jessie wrote the lyrics, “Sometimes I can’t help crying, people, when I hear about the dying, the young men, the women, the children, why the violence has been chosen…” during the Viet Nam era. But, for me, are as true today as they were then.

Jimmy Cliff’s Sitting In Limbo

How I envisioned Russell when forced to meet the terrorist’s demands while, at the same time finding a way to save all he loves.

Loggins & Messina’s Angry Eyes

Describes the terrorist.

see also:

the author's website
the author at Backstory
author profile at International Thriller Writers

the book's publisher's page

Armchair Interviews review

Previous Book Notes submissions (authors create playlists for their book)
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2007 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2006 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2005 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2004 Edition)


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