Single Sundays: The Recipient by Dean Mayes

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for The Recipient (from the Publisher):
Casey Schillinge is a vivacious young woman on the verge of making her mark on the world. While backpacking, she is struck down by a tropical disease and suffers cardiac failure. But at the eleventh hour, Casey receives a life-saving heart transplant – and a rare second chance to begin again.

Three years later, Casey has become a withdrawn shell of her former self: she is estranged from her loved ones, afraid of open spaces and rides the line between legitimate and criminal work. The worst of her troubles come in the form of violent night terrors; so frightening that she resorts to extreme measures to keep herself from sleeping. When she can take no more, she embarks on a desperate search for the source of her dreams. In so doing, she makes a shocking discovery surrounding the tragic fate of the donor whose heart now beats inside her chest. As she delves deeper into the mystery of her donor, she realizes her dreams are not a figment of her imagination, but a real life nightmare.


Author: Dean Mayes
Genre: Fiction, Thriller, Psychological, Mystery
Heat Rating: N/A
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: May 1, 2016
Source & Format: Publisher–eARC | Thanks so much Central Avenue Publishing!



Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I don’t usually read a lot of adult thrillers but when asked if I would be interested in reading this one, I jumped on the chance. As you may or may not know, I’m studying to be a part of the health care field as a Medical Laboratory Technologist. What’s that? Basically, I’m the person who does all the lab tests when you are at the hospital (it actually is much more complex than that but I’m keeping it simple!). So I think it goes without saying that I’m really intrigued by stories that focus on health-care or science–and organ donation is one of those very interesting topics.

The media package for this release claims this book is perfect for fans of The Girl on The Train–a novel I enjoyed though found very predictable. I was hoping The Recipient would be a strong suspense story with a mystery I couldn’t solve only a couple chapters in and be able to keep my attention. I also didn’t want it to be super creepy (ie I could sleep at night).

The Concept:

Dean Mayes is actually a pediatric nurse and it definitely shows in his writing that he is knowledgeable about the topics at hand (he definitely did his research). Not only was everything super accurate but it was also explained in a way that anyone–regardless of their medical knowledge–would understand. There is a great balance between the medical, the suspense and the character development so don’t think you are going to be reading endless pages about Casey’s organ transplant.

As for the concept itself–what a really cool idea! While organ transplantation is one of science and medicine’s greatest achievements, there is still a lot that is unknown (to a certain extent). In society we equate the heart with so many things, like life and love–so the idea that a donor’s heart could possible transfer a part of that person into the new recipient? Who knows? And I love how this novel plays with that idea.

The Plot:

You might think the plot revolves around Casey coping with the random memories of her donor and that is the “thrilling” part–like a scary movie. But it actually reads more like a mystery once the concept is unraveled a bit. I found the first part (less than 25%) a little dry because it’s establishing Casey as her character and her situation–but once the plot starts going, it really keeps going at an accelerated pace.

The mystery was great! I truly wasn’t able to figure it out until the big reveal and that always gets bonus points in my eyes. It’s high level suspense and danger that really kept me on my toes and engaged as a reader. It’s a well crafted story that makes a seemingly unrealistic idea (the idea a person’s memories are transferred during an organ donation) but makes it entirely plausible.

The Characters:

Casey kinda reminded me of Lisbeth from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. They have similar personality traits and interests and so I got very comfortable with Casey’s character quickly. She was intriguing and even if I didn’t agree with all her actions, I definitely understood her motivation. She’s a smart girl who is a little misunderstood and isn’t afraid to take big risks.

I almost want a sequel with Casey just because I loved her amateur sleuth style and I want to read more books about female protagonists that give it their all when it comes to solving crimes.

My Rating: 4/5


Simply put: I really enjoyed reading this book. Once everything was established, it was a fast and dangerous read that had me on the edge of my seat. Dean Mayes has definitely picked up a fan after this book!

Read if You Like: thrillers, high-stakes/dangerous reads
Avoid if You: dislike thrillers, psychological reads


  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (Millennium Series #1)
  • The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Dean Mayes
Dean Mayes is a Pediatric Intensive Care nurse who is fascinated by
the paranormal, so his stories weave an element of magical realism
with deep humanism. He grew up near Melbourne, Australia, the
setting for his new novel The Recipient, but now lives in Adelaide with
his family and dog, whom he loves with great passion along with
cooking, Star Wars and a good joke.




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