A pair of rough-and-tumble private investigators try to track down the secret of a pharmaceutical company’s puzzling breakthrough.
Rugged ex-Marine Ethan Warner and his partner, Nicola Lopez, return in this Western-set sequel to Crawford’s 2011 supernatural debut, Convenant. Like its predecessor, the latest entry in the series is a mix of CSI-style forensic scrutiny dappled with Michael Crichton-like scientific tomfoolery. The new book finds Warner and Lopez reluctantly working as bail bondsmen when they’re tasked by Defense Intelligence Agency chief Doug Jarvis to look into a mysterious body that has turned up at the morgue in Santa Fe, N.M. County coroner Lillian Cruz has a fellow named Hiram Conley on her slab with a musket ball in his thigh and a serious case of old age. Their investigation leads to a pharmaceutical mogul named Jeb Oppenheimer, who also has an activist daughter, Saffron, who is acting out as an anti-vivisection activist. Oppenheimer, who is chasing down a complicated scientific solution to immortality, is also affiliated with a shadowy cabal of power brokers who are interested in applying Oppenheimer’s discovery to the problem of overpopulation. Meanwhile, Warner and Lopez must ferret out the secret behind a band of eight Union soldiers who seem to have endured since a strange battle in 1862. The action is frenetic, in the vein of Matthew Reilly’s Scarecrow series, but the science, while heavily researched and plausible, feels gimmicky. Dire pronunciations like this one—“It is not the science that is at fault, it is the fact that there are simply too many human beings populating our planet acting as petrie dishes for and carriers of exotic infectious diseases. If we do not act now, their carrying of the next great pandemic could spill over into our own countries and threaten humanity’s very existence”—have a bit of a Bond-villain tang to them.
A formulaic and generally predictable entry in the wide world of thrillers.