Future thriller noir from the Scotland-resident author of various paperbacks (Market Forces, 2005, etc.).
A century from now, thanks to COLIN (Colony Initiative), Mars thrives as a hotbed of advanced technology. America has divided into three: the Rim (west coast), the northeast and white supremacist, religion-soaked Jesusland. On Earth, an effort to create invincible warriors via genetic experiments resulted in variant thirteen, evolutionary throwbacks who were brutally raised and trained. Tough, fast and smart, the thirteens were soon deemed too dangerous and confined in reservations on Earth and Mars. Specially licensed thirteen Carl Marsalis works for a UN organization tracking down and killing thirteens that escape into the general population. Weary of the whole business, black-skinned Marsalis ends up in a Jesusland jail—whence he’s rescued by COLIN operative Sevgi Ertekin, an ex-NYC cop whose lover was a thirteen, and Sevgi’s boss Tom Norton, who need his expertise. Seems that a ship from Mars—they’re forbidden to land on Earth—crashed into the sea off California. The occupants of such vessels travel in cold-sleep cryocaps—except that, here, somebody woke up two weeks after leaving Mars and, in order to survive, cannibalized the other sleepers. Following the crash, the survivor, Allen Merrin—yes, a thirteen—acquired a couple of disciples who think he’s Jesus, then vanished, and later proceeded to commit a string of bizarre and inexplicable murders, meanwhile demonstrating a miraculous ability to conceal his movements. The hardworking complications, involving Mars, Peru and Norton’s brother, add bulk and confusion but little moral ambiguity, and few readers will care about the final revelation.
Phillip K. Dick did it better. And much more succinctly.