Throw biotech billions, mobsters, Yakuza heavies and brainiac baddies into a metaphorical Mixmaster, whip on high, and you have this soufflé of a thriller from Cook (Intervention, 2009, etc.).
Excepting Victor Frankenstein, lab-based scientists aren’t supposed to be adept at breaking and entering. Yet Benjamin Corey, geneticist and entrepreneur, puts himself to service in just that capacity, busting into a Tokyo research center to jack some notebooks owned by one Satoshi Machita, who is just then preparing to jump jobs and make some real dough. Alas, fate has something else in mind for Satoshi, which puts Laurie Montgomery in action. Readers of Cook’s other recent offerings will know Laurie as the dazzlingly efficient coroner whose young son was snatched from the jaws of death with the help of a few million stem cells. (Take that, George Bush!) Now it’s up to her to determine whether Satoshi’s demise was on the up and up, an answer on which the legal ownership of a miracle-medical patent potentially worth a trillion bucks might hinge. Can Big Crime stand up to Big Pharma? Not a chance, but the baddies try, with the Mafia and the Yakuza even joining forces. Cook’s thriller satisfies the basic requirements in about the way a Twinkie satisfies the body’s need for energy—it does the job, but there’s tastier and much more nutritious stuff out there. For one thing, this one has a little too much clumsy exposition and explaining on the fly, with clunky results. Yet Cook’s new concoction has plenty of entertaining toxicology and biochem geekery to keep matters instructive, and enough neat twists of the plot to keep them interesting as well.
Not Cook’s best dish, but a filling snack all the same.