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The murder of a beloved Dartmouth biologist opens a window to a whole new kind of mass murder in <\I>NBC News medical correspondent Smith’s debut thriller.

One minute Professor Wilson Bledsoe is driving peacefully home from the posh reception the Dartmouth president threw to honor him for winning the Devonshire Award, the richest prize in science; the next, he’s running for his life from a pair of hijackers who aren’t interested in his money or his car. When Bledsoe loses his race, his brother, an FBI agent who’s teaching anatomy at Hunter College, insists against Bureau policy on taking charge of the investigation into his disappearance, which swiftly morphs into a murder case. Even though the corpse is discovered defaced by an ethnic slur and the signature of the tiny, nutsy White Liberation Army, Sterling Bledsoe doesn’t believe that the two WLA lowlifes picked up for the crime killed his brother. But who else would have it in for a universally popular biology professor? And what’s the meaning of “CHOGAN,” the last clue Wilson managed to leave in the moments before he was killed? Still wrestling with his long-standing jealousy of the impossibly successful big brother he’d come to hate, Sterling painstakingly follows the clues—Wilson’s fascination with blackbirds, his friendship with German engineering student Heidi Vorscht, a posthumous visit to his lab by an unscheduled cleaner caught on videotape, the fact that his killers knew exactly when and where he’d be passing—until, as he puts it, they start talking. But the tale they tell will cut Sterling off from the Bureau colleagues certain that he’s the perp. He’ll have to go on the lam to catch the real killers, though he’ll get an awful lot of help along the way.

Familiar fare—the heavy breathing, the red herrings, the innocent on the run, the unmasking of the real killer—expertly prepared.

Pub Date: June 22nd, 2004
ISBN: 0-385-51136-1
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Doubleday
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2004