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on July 4, 2004
I finally got to read the book that everyone in the salon where I work is talking about. By the time it came to me it was pretty dog-eared, but I took it home, despite the fact that the girl in the chair next to me had apparently left some of her lunch between the pages. So you can imagine how I approached Dead Ringer when I started to read it over breakfast the next morning.
Like the other girls at work, I was immediately drawn into the story and it was Saturday, so I was able to read away, and I did. As you know if you've read the reviews and the publisher's comments, Maggie Nesbitt is pregnant and her husband isn't the father of her baby. A killer murders her twin and the media mistakenly thinks that it was Maggie who was killed. Maggie takes advantage of this by becoming her sister. So now the killer goes after her.
This is a super thriller that had me hooked right from the beginning, as I said. No way could I put down. Even though there was one really yucky violent scene where Horace Nighthyde, the killer, runs over Maggie's sister's dead body in an alley. Totally too violent and not necessary. If not for that, and a couple other places where the violence approached the yuck level, I'd be glad to give Dead Ringer the five stars my friend, Ms. Lunch in the Pages, gave it here, but sadly I feel I have to take away a point for that. So in conclusion, a very good thriller, but maybe a touch too much violence, so only four stars from me.
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Another recreational read that kept me up a bit later than normal... Dead Ringer by Ken Douglas. This was actually sent to me by another author who is friends with Douglas. Not knowing what to expect, I went in with few expectations. Turns out that Dead Ringer is a pretty good crime thriller with some major cases of mistaken identity going on.

Maggie grew up thinking she was the only surviving twin of an airplane crash that killed her mother and sister two weeks after her birth. She learns that's not exactly the case when she is reported as being "murdered" and dumped behind a bar on the beach. The murdered woman is a dead ringer for her, and Maggie figures out that it's her twin who really didn't die as earlier reported. The problem is that Maggie is still being stalked by her sister's killers, who apparently want her dead for some reason she doesn't quite understand. Since they screwed up with the first killing, they're under pressure to get it right the second time. Maggie is also pregnant from a one-night stand, and she doesn't want to lose her well-known husband who will know the child isn't his. Can she take the risk of telling him and driving him away, or will she get rid of the child and deal with that guilt for the rest of her life? Her "death" reveals a few facts she didn't know about her husband, so she decides to leave him and step into the role of her dead twin (since no one really knows she's the one that was actually killed). Maggie's twin has quite a bit of money as well as some strange emotional baggage that brings its own series of complications. Maggie needs to maintain the illusion long enough to find out why the killers want her dead, as well as what her sister was involved with that made her so much money.

Overall, the story was pretty good. Surprisingly, the main hitman is struggling with his own situation involving the murders, and really wants to put that life behind him. It doesn't change the fact that he's scummy, but there's still a bit of empathy there for him. I also enjoyed watching Maggie try to act like her sister she never met, and how to take over the mother role to an eight year old who knows something's a bit off, but likes the "new" version of mom much more than the old version. Things wrapped up well at the end, and I was glad that I had taken the time to dive into Dead Ringer...
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Rarely do I disagree with the bulk of other reviewers on any particular item. In the case of this book, it appears that I am in the minority in that I thought this book was thrilling and a fun read. I have recommended this book to others and liked it so much that I read it twice.

Maggie Nesbitt is upset because she is pregnant by someone other than her husband and she wants to keep the baby. Maggie's life is not going the way she wants it to go. Then an incredible coincidence provides Maggie with the chance to step into her sister's life, which would permit her to do what she wants, including keeping her baby. Sadly, the people who murdered her sister are still after Maggie. What follows is a thrill ride that ends only with the final pages of the book.

One of the things about many of the other reviews that surprised me was that so many people found the characters to be unbelievable and cartoonish. Apparently, these people have never read an Ian Fleming James Bond book or a Stephen Berry book, to name a couple. When you read a thriller, which is the genre of this book, you expect a lot of excitement and you expect people to make incredible and perhaps unbelievable decisions quickly. You expect people to do strange things.

This book was more than what I expected. The story was fast-paced. There were mysterious characters with unknown motivations. There were guns, murders and at least one psychopath. Yet, the story was coherent and all of it was exciting.

When I read a book, I expect to be entertained. Ken Douglas entertained me, quite well, thank you very much. If you are wondering whether you should believe the one and two star reviews or the four and five star reviews, all I can say is that you have to decide what you expect from a thriller. Note that this story is not a mystery. Yes, there is some mystery in this story, but it is a thriller. If your idea of a thriller is fast-pace, lots of action, and characters that do things that verge on the unbelievable - or maybe they are unbelievable, then welcome to a thrill better than a roller coaster ride, because this one lasted much longer than a roller coaster.


My thanks to the author for providing me with a review copy of his book.
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on April 17, 2013
Horace Nighthyde is a small time crook who'd burgled one too many homes. Caught and afraid of jail, he cut a deal with the Devil, or rather with super cop Lawrence Striker. Striker freed him, but bought his soul in the bargain. Throughout the remainder of Striker's career on the force, Nighthyde was his snitch, but after Striker retired and went to work for a crooked congressman, Striker wanted more.

Murder, the ultimate demand, but heck he owes Striker, besides the man is paying him well and he needs the money for his mother's medical bills. So, without a blink, he walks into a convenience store in Long Beach, California with a shotgun. He sees the man he's supposed to take out, pulls the trigger, blows him away, but Margo Kenyan, a blonde too pretty to kill, gets a good look at him as he flees.

When he tells Striker, the man orders Horace to take out the blonde and Horace does, but she doesn't stay dead.

Maggie Nesbitt is in a bit of a jam. She's pregnant and her husband isn't the father. To make matters worse, he's had a vasectomy, because he doesn't want any kids. What is she to do? Then, by chance, she discovers the twin sister she thought long dead, is in fact alive. Elated she rushes to see her, but she's not home. Maggie enters her apartment and waits and while waiting, she turns on the TV and finds out that she's been killed. She quickly figures out someone murdered Margo and the body has been mistaken as hers.

Needless to say, this really confuses Nighthyde. He'd been hired to kill someone. He did the job. So how come she's not dead?

As far as Maggie is concerned, with the world thinking her dead, she can take over her sister's life and keep her baby. But it's not all roses, because there is that pesky problem of the Killer on the loose.

I especially liked how Maggie, the heroine of the story, gets to keep her baby and I also liked that fact that Maggie is such a strong character who doesn't go whining to some guy when she gets in trouble. She solves her own problems, fights her own battles in this book full of characters you'd like to get to know better, people you wouldn't mind inviting home for dinner. Even the despicable Horace Nighthyde was sort of sympathetic in a pathetic kind of way.
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on July 9, 2004
This book isn't bad enough to throw at the wall, but it's not good enough to pass along to a friend. There is no mystery involved, no surprises, and the author demonstrates a very immature sense of justice. On the other hand, the characters were likeable and the story doesn't bog down anywhere.
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on August 24, 2013
The tension in DEAD RINGER, comes not from trying to figure out who committed the murder, but from wondering whether he'll get away with it. Horace Nighthide is a killer for hire and his mission is to enter a convenience store with a sawed off shotgun and kill a Japanese man, which he does, but while making his escape he discovers a couple problems. There were two Japanese men in the store and a young woman has witnessed the whole thing.

Did he kill the right man? That question bothers him not much. But the witness, that's a different problem.

Maggie Nesbitt has her own problems, not as pressing as Nighthide's, but pressing nonetheless. She's pregnant and her husband isn't the father. In fact, her husband had a vasectomy, so badly does he not want children. Then Maggie discovers her twin sister Margo, who she thought had died in infancy, is still alive and living not very far away.

Horace Nighthyde has discovered Maggie's twin also, because she's, you guessed it, the witness to his murder. Horace kills Margo, but when he dumps the body without ID it is mistaken for Maggie. Maggie seizes upon this opportunity and takes over her dead twin's life.

This bothers Horace a whole bunch and makes for a very exciting story. The book moves at a breakneck pace, with the author seemingly enjoying his contrivances. Virtually every chapter ends with a cliffhanger and there is action aplenty. Sometimes the writer is just the guy who drives the car, but sometimes he can put you behind the wheel and you're caught right up in the middle of the death defying action. That's the way it is in this book. There is one long chase scene involving a possible nuclear bomb, a porsche and a desperate drive into the drink that just thrilled me. I really felt like I was really driving that car.

In short, this is an excellent thriller, full of people I cared about, some I loved, some I hated. The ending surprised me and that's a good thing, the perfect way to end an exciting story.
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on February 23, 2007
I love mysteries and thrillers, and I am willing to accept rather unbelievable premises and characters when I read for pleasure, but this book was way beyond what I could take. The characters here are so cartoonish and beyond belief that I could not get over it. The characters make life-changing (including changing someone else's life to death) decisions with incredible lightness and superficiality. They also do very stupid things, suffer the consequences, and just do exactly the same thing within a few hours. In addition, they are all quite superhuman, as they manage to get away from armed thugs way too many times in way too few days. To top it all, the writing is stilted and very dry, so not even that relieves the feeling of reading a rather poor book. I kept at it until the end, however, hoping that it might improve , but the end was even worse than the rest. I cannot think of one character in this book who is even modestly credible.
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VINE VOICEon April 10, 2008
A few months ago, I read a book called Diamond Sky by Ken Douglas and Jack Stewart. I was unimpressed with the book, but recently I had a chance to read one of Douglas's solo efforts, Dead Ringer. While a definitely flawed book, it also is better than Diamond Sky.

In Dead Ringer (subtitled "A New Millennium Thriller" for a reason that escapes me), Maggie Nesbitt is a young woman with problems. She is pregnant by a one-night stand that could threaten her marriage to a local newsman (who may be cheating on her as well). That, however, is rather minor compared to the murder of her long lost identical twin, Margo. Margo happened to witness a murder, and now assassin Horace Nighthyde has killed her to cover his tracks; unfortunately, he did it in a way that people think Maggie is dead instead.

Maggie decides to use her sister's death as an opportunity to disappear from her old life and assume Margo's. This new life comes complete with a fat bankbook and a loving child, but it also comes with Horace, who is out to correct what he thinks was a mistake. Thus begins a cat-and-mouse game between the two, even as Maggie tries to make others believe she is Margo.

The biggest problem with this story is that it uses one of the most tired plot devices in suspense fiction, identical twins. Done well, even a cliché can be entertaining, but Douglas doesn't offer much that really adds new life to the twin-story. Furthermore, the idea of Maggie taking over Margo's life (at the spur-of-the-moment) is - despite Douglas's best efforts - not very plausible. Also, Horace is not the most threatening of villains; he's more inept than menacing.

On the other hand, Douglas does keep the pages turning. Some of the twists may be rather silly, but it is actually a reasonably fun-to-read thriller. It may be because Douglas isn't collaborating with another author, or maybe he's just improving (I'm not sure which of the two books came first), but this is a decent introduction to his writing.
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on February 25, 2015
Another good read by Ken Douglas.Can't beat the imagination of Douglas. Book was in relative good shape when it arrived and it arrived quickly. A book I will be happy to pass on to others for reading.
RJ Thompson
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on April 16, 2013
Not long ago Maggie Nesbitt went to a party without her husband, where she met a young Irish lad and did something she shouldn't have. Now she's pregnant, news her newsman husband isn't going to appreciate. Maggie thinks about abortion, but knows she could never do that.

Then out of the blue she learns the twin sister she'd thought had died when they were infants, is still alive. Maggie tracks her down, but never gets to meet her as she is murdered and the body is mistaken for Maggie. Seeing a chance to keep her child, Maggie takes over her twin's identity. But her sister had a child of her own, an ex-husband who is a real piece of work and a best friend who is onto Maggie's charade in no time. And she had one very determined enemy, who is not very happy to see the woman he killed, risen like Lazerus, back from the dead.

To survive this killer, Maggie is going to have to enlist the aid of her new friends, while reaching back to her old life for help as well in this sharply written book that has it all, a crew of lively characters, snappy dialogue and a plot that zips along like a jet propelled steamroller.
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