JINN by Matthew B.J. Delaney


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A far-fetched debut story of demonic possession.

At the start, a company of Marines land on Bougainville Island at the height of WWII. Foothold established, the men discover that the jungle holds an enemy far more violent and mysterious than the Japanese. Another recently arrived unit hasn’t been heard from for a week, and during the night, sounds of laughter and whispering waft through the trees. “There’s something in this jungle that ain’t right,” one of the men observes. Indeed. American and Japanese soldiers are found strung up, impaled, beheaded. A terrified Japanese soldier gasps of encountering something “like a man, only not a man.” The Americans flee to a transport ship, which the Japanese bomb and destroy. Then it’s 2007 and a documentary film crew is descending to the floor of the Pacific to photograph the warship. The crew encounter preserved human bodies that press their smiling faces against their pod’s glass window—just before a sea creature annihilates them. The action thereupon shifts to Boston and what could have been, on its own merit, a jaunty police procedural. Detective Will Jefferson is called to investigate a double murder atop a Boston skyscraper. Mutilations of the victims’ bodies suggest links to several subsequent murders and, as well, to a history of savage killings and tales of a dark monster at Boston’s Fort Blade Prison. Medical examiner Michael Wu theorizes that a creature using blank DNA to replicate the coded DNA of a host cell may be at work. And in Russia, long-winded Nickolai Ugriumov, curator at St. Petersburg’s Kryokov Museum, suggests that this creature, the Jinn of the title, may have possessed reincarnated humans for thousands of years. It’s rather apparent where the Jinn now resides, for all the clutter of clues, secondary characters, scattered love scenes, and bloody face-offs swirling around it.

Vigorously written, but overlong and overcooked.

Pub Date: Feb. 28th, 2003
ISBN: 0-312-27670-2
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 2002