In this debut novel, an American geologist spends part of his retirement investigating a strange science project in Mexico.
Dr. Cal Larsson is a former science professor living in North Carolina who gets recruited by a former classmate to visit Sweden to meet Dr. Inga Rundstrom, a Swedish geneticist whom Cal met at a conference decades earlier. Inga is concerned about the giant embryos that she’s helping to create at a top-secret Mexican facility, and, for some reason, she wants Cal—a geologist—to help her to look into them. Cal agrees, in part because the longtime bachelor quickly falls for Inga, captivated by her “glacial blue eyes.” She develops similar feelings for Cal, but she holds back for reasons that initially go unexplained. The couple travels through Europe while being stalked by such characters as Inga’s cousin Aryanne Wolf, who wants to be Inga’s lover, and her computer-controlled pack of dogs; Aryanne’s brother, Adolph, who lusts for his sister and wants Inga out of the way; and Adolph’s large henchman. Later, circumstances bring Cal back to his first love, an Irishwoman named Kara O’Malley. This is an inventive, sometimes-outlandish adventure, and its odd blend of science fact and fiction, action, and romance works well. Cal, Inga, and Kara are frequently in over their heads, but they entertainingly escape by using their wits. Overall, Lindholm develops these three main characters well, although his secondary players, particularly the villains, are largely one-dimensional. This is a relatively brief, taut story, usually good qualities in a thriller. However, this novel’s brevity means that several subplots end abruptly, which will frustrate some readers. Still, enough puzzles are left unsolved that this feels like the first book in a series—one that Lindholm hopefully plans to pursue.
An uneven but often enjoyable thriller.