December 07, 2012
"Dead Ringer" -- New Thriller Based on Body-Snatcher Syndicates on Sale for the Holidays
Amazon has chosen Dead Ringer for their Special Holiday Seasonal Promo and are selling it for just $1.99. See http://amzn.to/VxNnsz.
The following is from the press release for Dead Ringer by Allen Wyler:
While 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 who operate a legit funeral business and make a fortune by selling recovered body parts to medical researchers.
McCrae teams up with an unlikely pair—a beautiful but hardnosed female cop and a gang member whose family was victimized by the cadaver ring—to try and expose a macabre web of corruption that involves law enforcement, politicians, funeral home curators and murdered prostitutes.
Internationally renowned neurosurgeon Allen Wyler takes us deep into a nightmarish scenario, shockingly ripped from recent headlines, to deliver a horrifically plausible, page-turning thriller.
June 26, 2012
"Dead End Deal" -- Medical Thriller Based on Possible Cure for Alzheimers
The following is from the press release for Dead End Deal by Allen Wyler:
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.
Dead End Deal is a fast paced, heart-pounding, and sophisticated thriller. Penned by master neurosurgeon, Allen Wyler—who often draws from experience, actual events and hotbutton issues when writing—Dead End Deal is unmatched as a technical procedural. Its medical and scientific details can impress even the most seasoned medical practitioners. And yet, the technical expertise is seamlessly woven into a riveting plot, with enough action and surprises to engross even the most well-read thriller enthusiast.
May 31, 2012
"The Trust" -- The novel to be released July 17, 2012
On July 17, 2012, Norb Vonnegut's newest financial thriller, The Trust, will be released.
Here is some information about this book from the publisher:
Norb Vonnegut (cousin of the late Kurt Vonnegut) is a former Wall Street insider and master of financial intrigue. The author of 'Top Producer' and 'The Gods of Greenwich', Norb has combined his wealth management expertise and intuitive, darkly humorous writing into a fast-talking, suspense thriller that burrows inside the world of big-money philanthropy and reveals how financial criminals hide behind the First Amendment. Who would have known that charitable donations could be so deadly?
One sultry morning in Charleston, South Carolina, real estate magnate Palmer Kincaid's body washes ashore, the apparent victim of accidental drowning. Palmer's daughter calls Grove O'Rourke, stockbroker and hero of Top Producer, for help getting her family's affairs in order. Palmer was Grove's mentor and client, the guy who opened doors to a world beyond Charleston. Grove steps in as the interim head of the Palmetto Foundation, an organization Palmer created to encourage philanthropy.
Community foundations, like the Palmetto Foundation, are conduits.
Philanthropists gift money to them and propose the ultimate beneficiaries. But in exchange for miscellaneous benefits-anonymity, investment services, and favorable tax treatment-donors lose absolute control. Once funds arrive, community foundations can do whatever they decide.
For years Palmer showed great sensitivity to his donors, honoring their wishes to funnel funds into the charities of their choice-his unspoken pledge-and it was this largesse which made him a respected pillar of the Charleston community. But after Grove authorizes a $25 million transfer requested by a priest from the Catholic Fund, he discovers something is terribly wrong. He gets a call from Biscuit Hughes, a lawyer representing the people of Fayetteville, North Carolina, against a new sex superstore in their town. Biscuit has traced the store's funding to a most unlikely source: the Catholic Fund.
Together, Grove and Biscuit launch an investigation into the fund, but the deeper they dig, the more evidence they find that the fund's money isn't being used to support the impoverished-it's going somewhere much more sinister. When someone close to him disappears and the FBI starts breathing down his neck, Grove knows he has to figure out who's pulling all the strings before the shadowy figure who will stop at nothing to keep the fund a secret gets to him.
April 22, 2012
How Do You Bequeath Your Legacy?
The end of one's life usually brings about a reflection of what one's life has meant. This is true for a man named Martin Forrestal. However, Martin isn't a real man. His story is literally just that. The story of Martin Forrestal is detailed in a novel written by financial advisor, Cam Thornton, and the founder of The Heritage Institute, Rod Zeeb.
Their story, entitled What Matters, follows the story of Martin Forrestal as he surprisingly finds himself on his death bed, diagnosed with Prostate Cancer. In the course of the novel, Martin determines that his monetary possessions and his success should not define who he is as a person. He convinces himself that what is important to leave to his wife and children is not his physical possessions but something more. So, Martin creates a list of 15 values that works as a framework for what he would like to leave for his family. Once he creates his list, he tells 15 different life events that he feels embodies these values, records them on a digital storage device, and stores them on his computer. These are some of the values and the stories that accompany them:
- Leadership displayed by his Scout Masters.
- Honor from the kindness of citizens who helped a greedy banker from financial ruin when he would have done the opposite for the citizens.
- Responsibility from the work ethic of his mother.
- Sacrifice from actions of his best friend, who sacrificed himself in World War II to save his fellow soldiers.
- And Love from a plaque that was a gift from his mother-in-law to him and his wife.
The story ends with Martin giving this gift to his family, who appears to appreciate the legacy he left behind.
See Eleanor O'Sullivan, What Matters Most To Loved Ones, Financial Advisor, Mar. 19, 2012.
Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.
April 29, 2011
The Story of an Elderly Widow
A sequel to the bestselling, much-beloved Wish You Were Here, Stewart O’Nan’s intimate new novel follows Emily Maxwell, a widow whose grown children have long moved away. She dreams of vists by her grandchildren while mourning the turnover of her quiet Pittsburgh neighborhood, but when her sole companion and sister-in-law Arlene faints at their favorite breakfast buffet, Emily’s days change. As she grapples with her new independence, she discovers a hidden strength and realizes that life always offers new possibilities. Like most older women, Emily is a familiar yet invisible figure, one rarely portrayed so honestly. Her mingled feelings-of pride and regret, joy and sorrow- are gracefully rendered in wholly unexpected ways. Once again making the ordinary and overlooked not merely visible but vital to understanding our own lives, Emily, Alone confirms O’Nan as an American master.
For a review of the book and how it can be helpful to caregivers, see Paula Span, The Caregiver’s Bookshelf: How She Carries On, N.Y. Times, Apr. 16, 2011.
Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (WealthCounsel) for bringing this to my attention.
July 06, 2009
Book Provides Useful Guide for Dealing With the Inevitable
Jane Brody (columnist, NY Times) has published her book entitled Jane Brody's Guide to the Great Beyond: A Practical Guide to Help You and Your Loved Ones Prepare Medically, Legally, and Emotionally for the End of Life, Random House (2009).
Not only does the book cover legal issues that can arise, like advanced directives, organ donation, and assisted death, the book also provides practical advice on issues such as dealing with grief, losing a child, and a bad prognosis. The book also provides helpful checklists, anecdotes, and cartoons, making the written text all the more approachable for, and applicable to, the reader.
March 09, 2009
"The Undertaker's Tale"
According to Andrew Gulli, the editor of The Strand Magazine in which the article will appear, "Twain uses his razor sharp wit to pen a tongue-in-cheek tale about the funeral industry."
See Carolyn Kellogg, Lost Mark Twain story to be published, LA Times, March 5, 2009.
February 09, 2009
"Honestly Dearest, You're Dead"
Here is a summary of the plot from Publishers Weekly:
When an attorney informs PI Vlodek Dek Elstrom that he's been named executor of the estate of Louise Thomas of Rambling, Mich., curiosity and a $700 fee are enough to send Dek from his home in Rivertown, Ill., to desolate Rambling, even though he's never heard of the deceased woman. Dek finds more mystery in Thomass shack—blood spatters, remnants of a frantic search and an old Underwood typewriter. Dek eventually figures out how he and Thomas connect, but in the process unearths mysteries involving an advice columnist, a bank robbery, arson and murder. Dek is an appealing combination of bloodhound and bulldog, albeit one still in the puppy stage. Fredricksons light touch, nicely drawn secondary characters and clever plotting make this a promising series with enough substance to make a meal, not just a snack.
For another review, see Tom Nolan, The Case of the Advice Columnist's Estate, Wall St. J., Feb. 7, 2009.
Special thanks to Joel Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) for bringing this book to my attention.
January 09, 2009
"No Time for Goodbye"
Here is the author's "teaser" about the book:
One night, when Cynthia Archer was 14 years old, her family disappeared. Now, 25 years later, she’s about to learn what happened to her mother, father, brother, and she might be better off never finding out.
According to Alafair Burke, “No Time For Goodbye is a deliciously smart thriller, full of surprises and perfect pacing. I'm jealous I didn't write it." I completely agree.
BUT, what is not revealed in any teasers or reviews, is that this book has its foundations in wills, trusts, and estates! In fact, the plot could not exist with our area of the law! So as not to spoil the book for readers who have not yet experienced it, I have posted my discussion of the connection off-site here.
March 13, 2008
Son struggles with a decision of honoring his father’s deathbed wish or destroying a masterpiece
Dmitri Nabokov, the 73 yr old sole surviving heir of Vladimir Nabokov, continues his 30-yr struggle with his father's deathbed request that his last unpublished work, The Original of Laura, be destroyed. The stakes are high for Laura; at one point, Dmitri referred to it as "the most concentrated distillation of [my father's] creativity.***
The long twisted saga may find its fate as a cliffhanger of sorts. In a dramatic verdict, Dmitri indicated late last month that he had indeed "decided to make a decision" about what to do, but that he would "neither disclose publicly either the decision or the deed." Apparently (or should I say apparition-ly?), Dmitri reached his decision after an imagined ghostly conversation with his dead father. Stay tuned for the future unveiling of either a box of Laura's ashes or what might be Nabokov's greatest literary work.
Special thanks to Bruce S. Johnson (Associate Dean for Information Services, Thomas J. and Mary E. Heck and Leo H. Faust Memorial Designated Professor of Law, Moritz College of Law, The Ohio State University) for bringing this blog posting to my attention.
February 17, 2008
"Lethal Choice" -- Intellectually stimulating and emotionally charged novel
Lethal Choice by Dr. Stanley A. Terman, PhD, MD is an intellectually stimulating and emotionally charged drama that keeps you reading into the night and continues to haunt you into the daylight hours. Lethal Choice should be at the top of your must-read list of books. Dr. Stanley Terman not only expertly weaves a plot of intrigue and suspense but delves into the moral dilemmas facing individuals as they approach death.
Lethal Choice is a book for everyone...a thriller for readers seeking "a tale of terror" and an educational thought-provoking story for readers who desire "a tale of substance." Lethal Choice is a powerful novel that embraces timely issues relevant to the medical, legal, and religious communities but more importantly to the average person who is at the mercy of the controversies surrounding end-of-life decisions.
August 10, 2007
The Charles Dickens-Estate Planning Interface
The following excerpt is from John Authers, Passing on wealth, Financial Times, July 9, 2007:
The Victorians had some lessons for the very rich who have been produced by the wealth-creation of the past decade.
The crucial question is whether the new breed of philanthropists will turn into a new generation of Mrs Pardiggles.
Mrs Pardiggle is one of the more loathsome characters in Charles Dickens’ Bleak House, the tragic story of a contested will. It is arguably literature’s greatest ever warning of the hazards of inadequate estate planning.
As well as lawyers, Dickens was also deeply sceptical about philanthropists. He divided them into two classes: “One, the people who did a little and made a great deal of noise; the other, the people who did a great deal and made no noise at all.” Mrs Pardiggle is in the former group.
Special thanks to Prof. Joel C. Dobris of the University of California-Davis for bringing this article to my attention.
July 06, 2007
English Professor Seeks Literature Revealing the Testator's Mind
I am posting the following inquiry on behalf of Elizabeth Stone, Professor of English, Communication and Media Studies at Fordham University:
As part of some research I am doing, I am looking for works of fiction (novels, short stories, plays, poems, films) in which a last will and testament figures prominently. Particularly, I am interested in works that reveal the mind of the testator. (What is it that informs the spirit of the bequests? How much consciousness, if any, does the testator have of the impact of the bequest on the survivors?) Second, I am interested in works that explore the impact of the will on the survivors' relationship with one another. How does the content of the will affect their relationship?
Among the works I already have on my list: Shaw's MAJOR BARBARA, Forster's HOWARDS END, George Eliot's MIDDLEMARCH, Trollope's ORLY FARM, Maile Meloy's FAMILY DAUGHTER. KING LEAR doesn't actually have a will, but it is about an aging father's bequest to his daughters, the conditions he imposes and the consequences of the conditions.
I already have a few memoirs about legacies in mind--one is Rich Cohen's SWEET'N LOW, another is Dorothy Gallagher's HOW I CAME INTO MY INHERITANCE, and the third is MOMMY DEAREST about Joan Crawford's daughter--but I'd be interested to know of more.
Thank you in advance for whatever citations any of you might be able to send my way. Please send them to ElizStone@aol.com
April 28, 2005
"The Bad Beginning" Made into a Movie
Earlier on this blog, I discussed a children's book with a tremendous number of estate planning themes.
I have just discovered that this book, along with others in the same series, was made into a movie which was released in December 2004 entitled Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events.
Perhaps I should rent the DVD and see if the movie retained these themes. But, with exams to grade, it is not high on my "to do" list.
If you have viewed the movie, let me know what you think!
April 25, 2005
"The Bad Beginning" -- Children's Book With Estate Planning Themes
One of my eclectic students, Graham Smith, recently recommended that I read a children’s book entitled The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket because of its thematic elements revolving around various aspects of estate planning.
I followed his advice and read the book. It is unlike any children’s book I have ever read. Ominously, the book begins with following warning, “If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other book.”
The book revolves around the lives of three children who by page eight lose their loving and wealthy parents in a tragic fire. The orphans are then sent to a distant relative who forces them to live in unsanitary conditions and perform child labor. The relative makes matters worse by engaging in acts of child abuse such as beating a child, forcing a fourteen year old child into marriage, binding, gagging, and confining an infant, making death treats, and committing other heinous acts.
Despite the nightmares this book may cause its tender readers (like me) to have, the book provides a tremendous boost to the value of a legal education and that it is never too early to start. The older children find a way to access and study law books. The legal knowledge they gain leads to the very happy “almost” ending. (Things get worse after the author’s warns, “If you like, you may shut this book this instant and not read the unhappy ending that is to follow.”)
Here is a sampling of the wills, estates, and trusts topics covered in this book:
- Trusts (Not referred to by name but by concept, “I will be handling [your parents’] enormous fortune [and] [w]hen [oldest child] comes of age, the fortune will be yours, but the bank will take charge of it until you are old enough.”)
- Degrees of relationship (e.g., third cousin four times removed)
- Naming of guardians in a will
- Inheritance law
- Marital (“nuptial,” as it is called in the book) law
- In loco parentis