1 title per month from Audible’s entire catalog of best sellers, and new releases.
Access a growing selection of included Audible Originals, audiobooks and podcasts.
You will get an email reminder before your trial ends.
Your Premium Plus plan is $14.95 a month after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
Buy for $29.65

Buy for $29.65

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

A Father, His Son, and an Unrelenting Quest for a Cure

At the age of 27, Whitney Dafoe was forced to give up his life as a photographer who traveled the world. Bit by bit a mysterious illness stole away the pieces of his life: First, it took the strength of his legs, then his voice, and his ability to eat. Finally, even the sound of a footstep in his room became unbearable. The Puzzle Solver follows several years in which he desperately sought answers from specialist after specialist, where at one point his 6'3" frame dropped to 115 lbs. For years, he underwent endless medical tests, but doctors told him there was nothing wrong. Then, finally, a diagnosis: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis. 

In the 80s, when an outbreak of people immobilized by an indescribable fatigue were reported near Lake Tahoe, Nevada, doctors were at a loss to explain the symptoms. The condition would alternatively be nicknamed Raggedy Ann Syndrome or the Yuppie Disease, and there was no cure or answers about treatment. They were to remain sick. 

But there was one answer: Whitney's father, Ron Davis, PhD, a world-class geneticist at Stanford University whose legendary research helped crack the code of DNA, suddenly changed the course of his career in a race against time to cure his son's debilitating condition. 

In The Puzzle Solver, journalist Tracie White, who first wrote a viral and award-winning piece on Davis and his family in Stanford Medicine, tells his story. In gripping prose, she masterfully takes listeners along on this journey with Davis to solve one of the greatest mysteries in medicine. In a piercing investigative narrative, closed doors are opened, and masked truths are exposed as Davis uncovers new proof confirming that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a biological disease. 

At the heart of this book is a moving story that goes far beyond medicine, this is a story about how the power of love - and science - can shine light in even the darkest, most hidden, corners of the world.

©2021 Tracie White and Ronald W. Davis, PhD (P)2021 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"The Puzzle Solver is a love-letter not only to the Dafoe and Davis family but to everyone with crushing chronic illness who nevertheless continue to find meaning and joy in life - and to those who stand behind them. It's both a gripping read and a heart-wrenching story, but far more, it's inspiring, showing how we, and those we love, can band together to withstand challenges, even those beyond your worst nightmares." (Julie Rehmeyer, author of Through the Shadowlands)

"The Puzzle Solver is a compelling story of the love of a father who as a scientist preserved through a maze of uncertainty to help his son. Anyone who has endured undiagnosed chronic illness or has been subjected to the blanket dismissal of the medical community will find refuge in this book. The personal sense of responsibility coupled with the journey for acceptance of this disease as having a biological basis is nothing short of inspiring. A reminder that our lives can change in an instant, are are ultimately dependent upon our love for each other." (Rana Awdish, MD, author of In Shock

"The Puzzle Solver is a medical mystery with a heart. It's a poignant memoir of a scientist whose determination, ingenuity and love for his son drives him to the limits of science and medicine to unravel an enigmatic illness that has eluded doctors for decades." (Steffanie Strathdee, author of The Perfect Predator

What listeners say about The Puzzle Solver

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    144
  • 4 Stars
    62
  • 3 Stars
    32
  • 2 Stars
    9
  • 1 Stars
    3
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    145
  • 4 Stars
    38
  • 3 Stars
    27
  • 2 Stars
    5
  • 1 Stars
    1
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    137
  • 4 Stars
    44
  • 3 Stars
    23
  • 2 Stars
    9
  • 1 Stars
    3

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Silly, juvenile book

The whole book felt dumbed down and written with rose-colored glasses. Never did I feel the writer grasped the actual horror of the disease. Whitney's sickness was a great way to practice mindfulness. Ron's work allowed him to overcome early disabilities. Janet got her boy to love and take care of. Pull out the candles and sing Kumbaya. What nonsense! Nowhere did I really feel the fear that the family is going through. The crying, the panic, the frustration, and the exhaustion. The book was juvenile, almost to the point of being useless.

The book trivialises the disease, in a way, even though she makes it clear how sick Whitney is. She completely ignores any patients, or, indeed, major outbreaks from outside the US. I don't think she mentions the WHO classification as a neurological disease dating back to 1969. It seems as if she thinks Lake Tahoe was the first ever occurrence.

In the end, I felt that the book was a wasted opportunity. It could have been a very different, and maybe even very important book in the right hands.

39 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

A story, and nothing but a story...

The performance was actually very good with a nice cadence and a vocal tone that would draw you into the story.

It is just a story though with no recommendations of any treatment that may help a person overcome mscfs.

The title "The Puzzle Solver", would indicate that there was a solution to the problem and I kept listening expecting that at some point there would be some treatment protocol that gave some benefit to mscfs.

There was no such outcome.

If you like a story of the challenges of a young man and his father as they try to negotiate how to live with a disease then this book is for you.

If you are looking for any kind of solution or treatment protocol or Pathway to Better Health than no, it is NOT here, and you are going to have to look elsewhere.

There is no indication of any treatment that may help you or anyone you know with mscfs.

it is a nice story though.

22 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Important book for anyone trying to understand ME CFS

I am an anesthesiologist and one of my family members has ME CFS. Reading this book gives me hope and makes me not feel alone. I am sorry that the medical profession has failed these patients in so many ways. I have always been committed to treating my patients with ME CFS with respect and to truly listen to their complaints. I hope this book teaches other physicians to do the same. Thank you Tracie, Ron, and Whitney (and Whitney’s mom)
God bless you.

12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Heartbreaking truth...a must read.

This is a profound story with no ending yet, but a must read to understand how unfair judgement can destroy a person's hope, which may be the only resource they have to survive this debilitating disease. A life unlived due to illness is difficult beyond belief, but to be berated by the medical profession who takes the oath to do no harm is emotional torture.

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Thought provoking, sensitive, a must read

I am in awe of Whitney and his family, incredibly courageous, selfless. Thanks to HH for writing this to enlighten others about MECFS. May it get the research funds it deserves!

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

M.E. Sufferer

Thank you from the deepest part of my soul!
Wonderfully Written and narrated. I must rest now.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Much Needed Story

As a loved one to someone diagnosed with ME/CFS in the last two years, I am so grateful for this book. The story of Whitney and countless ME patients and their loved ones can no longer be ignored. I finished this book with a feeling of hope for the future. Thank you Tracie for all of your work in getting this out there for the world, and thank you to Whitney and many others for being willing to share your story.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Special memories for me about Whitney and Ron.

This book had special memories for me because I worked for Ron Davis in the late 80s. He hired me to assist him in his lab and later I became the lab manager for the Biochemistry Department at Stanford University. I first met Whitney at the Davis home when he was just 3 years old. The book captures the love Ron has for his family and his devotion to Science.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent

I cried a lot and was inspired. Well written and amazing story. I hope a cure will be found soon.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great Book about ME/CFS

Tracie White has done a terrific job in describing Ron Davis's research and deep love for his son, Whitney. She starts out knowing little about the disease and with lots of research, interviews, and compassionate listening, takes us on her journey to understand the truth about ME/CFS. It's an accessible overview of the illness and some of its unfortunate history, as well as a deeper look into Ron and Janet's family before and after Whitney got sick. I've read and watched a lot about ME, and this is one of the few works by someone who doesn't have the illness that actually gets it right. I'm almost at the end and am sad that it isn't longer. Thank you, Tracie.

4 people found this helpful