Social issues, cool not-so-far-in-the-future gadgets, and a well-paced plot add up to a good read.

ETERNAL SONATA

This sequel to The Genesis Code (2014) explores the high-stakes world of biotech.

Metzl's latest features the same cast and same scientific underbelly that appeared in The Genesis Code; it's set two years later, in 2025. Newspaper reporter Rich Azadian is enjoying the fruits of his success with a book that happens to be called Genesis Code when he's assigned an odd missing-person story by his editor at the Kansas City Star. As he follows the clues he realizes that a pattern is forming—two octogenarian scientists, both Jewish, both dying of cancer, have disappeared from hospice care and appeared on security video at the Tobago airport. But there's something strange about the videos: even though eye-scanning technology at the airport verifies the identities of the missing scientists, they look like men in their 40s clearing customs. Rich's investigation finds that a researcher named Noam Heller is the key; he's working on a project to reverse illness and aging, a fountain of youth to honor his late wife, who died of cancer. When Rich and his girlfriend, Toni, visit Heller’s lab—Rich brings Toni and her dog with him to charm the suspicious doctor into talking to him—they hear the “eternal sonata” that plays as Heller works, a composite of all Bach's sonatas that's programmed to keep playing forever. Big pharma and greed are the ghosts in the music; soon Heller's found dead, and for some reason Toni becomes a target for the bad guys. The story goes global as Rich visits Cuba and then a floating research facility near Santo Domingo, looking for answers about the missing scientists. Metzl has created a wonderful symbol in Scientists Beyond Nations, a research group based on an almost invisible ship, which protects medical ethics by excluding national interests from their research so their discoveries can benefit everyone.

Social issues, cool not-so-far-in-the-future gadgets, and a well-paced plot add up to a good read.

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62872-679-4

Page Count: 308

Publisher: Arcade

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2016

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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No wonder Scarpetta asks, “When did my workplace become such a soap opera?” Answer: at least 10 years ago.

FLESH AND BLOOD

Happy birthday, Dr. Kay Scarpetta. But no Florida vacation for you and your husband, FBI profiler Benton Wesley—not because President Barack Obama is visiting Cambridge, but because a deranged sniper has come to town.

Shortly after everyone’s favorite forensic pathologist (Dust, 2013, etc.) receives a sinister email from a correspondent dubbed Copperhead, she goes outside to find seven pennies—all polished, all turned heads-up, all dated 1981—on her garden wall. Clearly there’s trouble afoot, though she’s not sure what form it will take until five minutes later, when a call from her old friend and former employee Pete Marino, now a detective with the Cambridge Police, summons her to the scene of a shooting. Jamal Nari was a high school music teacher who became a minor celebrity when his name was mistakenly placed on a terrorist watch list; he claimed government persecution, and he ended up having a beer with the president. Now he’s in the news for quite a different reason. Bizarrely, the first tweets announcing his death seem to have preceded it by 45 minutes. And Leo Gantz, a student at Nari’s school, has confessed to his murder, even though he couldn’t possibly have done it. But these complications are only the prelude to a banquet of homicide past and present, as Scarpetta and Marino realize when they link Nari’s murder to a series of killings in New Jersey. For a while, the peripheral presence of the president makes you wonder if this will be the case that finally takes the primary focus off the investigator’s private life. But most of the characters are members of Scarpetta’s entourage, the main conflicts involve infighting among the regulars, and the killer turns out to be a familiar nemesis Scarpetta thought she’d left for dead several installments back. As if.

No wonder Scarpetta asks, “When did my workplace become such a soap opera?” Answer: at least 10 years ago.

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-232534-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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