A thriller that tries in vain to marry science and the Bible.
There is a gene for evil, and people who have it are predestined to violence. Parents kill their children to make a fortune off their body parts. A man kills successive wives for nagging and being nosy. “I don’t think you have enough time to get me pregnant,” carps catty Cathy to her husband. “That was really hitting below the belt,” put-upon Alex thinks. Within a page, wifey gets a shovel upside her head and a burial under the barn. A scientist develops an acid designed to dissolve his pesky girlfriend without a trace. But don't blame any of them, because they all have the gene HLA B66, which if you change the B to lowercase and write it just so, looks like 666, which it really is, and voila, the work of the devil. Researchers supposedly start with the theory that such a gene exists, but they really start with the conclusion and run tests to prove it. A credulous public goes gaga, though some doubting fools protest. Dr. Regina Dickerson patiently explains to an interviewer that “there are three sixes in 666.” Researchers want to take blood samples of every prisoner in the nation, starting with those on death row, to prove what they've already decided. The tale could use surgery to excise all the hellos, how-are-yous, weather reports and similar verbal baggage. But more importantly, there's no overarching villain but rather a series of evil people who are caught and punished. (One might say the villain is Satan, but he doesn’t appear in the book.) Given all these reservations, this probably isn’t the worst thriller of the year, but it makes a respectable bid.
Thriller fans comfortable with mixing science and the book of Revelations might enjoy this one, but others will have a devil of a time liking it.