Following a breakthrough with a formula, a California scientist suddenly finds herself the target of mysterious figures in this debut thriller.
Dr. Susan Glasser is taken aback when her lawyer, Russell Harris, makes it clear that she’s financially strapped. She certainly doesn’t want to sell her company, Glass Biotechnology, especially since the lab’s research in anti-idiotypic antibodies is just now showing positive results. Unfortunately, a break-in at the lab sets her back—the animal test subjects are all missing, presumably the work of activists. Since she can’t afford to delay the trials of her formula, GI-80, Susan injects herself with the drug. She gradually notices changes in herself—she’s faster and stronger—while troubling events unfold around her. Susan spots a car that’s unmistakably following her, and someone breaks into both her gym locker and her mother’s apartment. Things take a turn for the worse when a body winds up at her lab and law enforcement starts looking at her as a possible homicide suspect. It’s apparent someone wants GI-80. Since the culprit could be Susan’s former employer, Avery Biogenetics Corporation, any one of her lab researchers could very well be providing inside information. Though the eventual discovery of the drug’s specific effect is sci-fi–ish, Susan’s scientific approach (constantly examining herself for physical changes) keeps Matthews’ tale grounded and believable. The same applies to Susan’s hiding from anyone trailing her; she wisely changes her appearance based on popular fashions and hairstyles. The narrative is appropriately concise and pragmatic; in one scene, Susan works on establishing an alternate identity, debates her next move, and theorizes how the GI-80 biologic is functioning. The novel’s latter half includes a love interest for Susan who’s both surprising and convincing. This prefaces a strong final act that, though laden with solid twists and a thorough plot resolution, feels like it’s sprinting to the end.
A science-based plot and first-rate protagonist remain both plausible and riveting.