A genetic researcher must help his comatose wife after she falls victim to a basilisk’s stare.
Cee-Zee (that’s crypto-zoologist to newbies) researcher Nathan Underhill is at a professional nadir. His latest hybrid, the gryphon, has putrefied before hatching; it’s the most recent failure in his series of near-miss attempts to re-create mythological beasts. His grant money cancelled and his future unsure, Nathan has plenty of free time to help physician wife Grace investigate the mysterious deaths at the Murdstone Rest Home. Someone or something has been mysteriously killing inhabitants, leaving no evidence of trauma, and Grace vows to find out how. Sneaking around the Murdstone one night, the couple confirm their suspicion that mad Dr. Zauber has succeeded where Nathan has failed and created a basilisk, the snakelike creature whose icy stare can kill. Convinced that the key to producing these beasts is using human lives to power them, Dr. Zauber insists that Nathan join his quest to create more. When Nathan refuses, the basilisk puts Grace into a coma before disappearing with the mad doctor. Nathan must track them down with the help of his angst-ridden teenage son and an overinvolved cub reporter. In the end, it’s hard to know which enemy the crew will find more formidable, Dr. Zauber or his band of beasts.
Masterton (Ghost Music, 2009, etc.) involves readers with fast-flowing action, but saddles himself with a repellent hero.