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Espionage saga exploring the horrifying premise that Mengele’s concentration-camp experiments during WWII produced a secret DNA-linked weapon of mass destruction.

Fee’s debut demonstrates that the former corporate executive can effectively combine threads from the news to create an action-based story that moves episodically from 1945 to 2006. After some 1945 background involving the execution of almost everyone involved in a hush-hush SS mission, the story begins in 1996 when Brian Christopher, an American oceanographer, and Craig Oller, a British salvager, find that a sunken V-2 rocket has generated great interest among a right-wing German faction–a development that naturally attracts intense American and British interest. Apparently the rocket contains Mengele’s secret codes and notes, and it doesn’t take the intrepid CIA agents, who now include the beautiful Whitney Anderson, to guess that its code name “Seraphim” means “Angel of Death.” They also figure out why: It combines biotechnology and eugenics keys to specifically target victims by race or even agricultural products consumed. It’s unclear why the Germans hadn’t implemented the Seraphim earlier since the story turns on the existence of a second, complete set of codes buried in Europe. After a few trial runs during which two marijuana smokers and others are bumped off, the Germans seem poised for global domination again. Meantime, there are plenty of other goings-on with sketchily characterized Germans from Austria to South America, plus good guys and traitors in the CIA appearing in sound-bite chapters. As such, it’s difficult to care about the wooden characters. The action and suspense aren’t fully realized until well past midpoint, and the first half is consumed by a parade of unnecessary facts (such as characters blandly explaining to each other what a bio-hazard is, or how DNA works). The finale falls flat, but Fee leaves room for a promised sequel: The Seraphim Paradox.

A mildly interesting what-if scenario for those who enjoy a USA Today-style gloss of international politics and bio-terrorism.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 1-4033-0187-5
Program: Kirkus Indie
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FictionTHE GERMAN DOCTOR by Lucía Puenzo
by Lucía Puenzo