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.