RAISING ABEL by W. Michael Gear


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The bestselling veteran duo (Dark Inheritance, 2001, etc.) offers a timely thriller with enough science for verisimilitude and enough visceral charge for escapism.

Someone is killing genetic scientists around the world (in Israel, Russia, New Hampshire, New Mexico): The victims are nailed to the floor, then set on fire. One victim, however, fits the m.o. but not the profile. Elizabeth Carter, who says she works for the massive Apostolic Evangelical Church of the Salvation in Atlanta, calls FBI agent Joe Hanson with the claim that her boss, powerful televangelist Billy Barnes Brown, has a list of 25 renowned scientists. When the names of three of the recently deceased are crossed off, the skeptical Hanson arranges to meet her on the following day. By then, though, she’s already dead. Hanson’s sidekick John Ramsey pursues the Reverend Brown angle while Hanson focuses on the dead geneticists. Veronica Tremain, sister of victim Dr. Scott Ferris and a scientist herself, clashes early on with Hanson in her zeal to learn the truth about her brother’s murder. In the course of her informal probe, Veronica meets Bryce Johnson and Rebecca Armley, colleagues and friends of Scott's with similar unanswered questions and unsettling suspicions about his death. After the trio pools its knowledge, a hit-man forces them to go on the run, taking with them Abel, Scott’s withdrawn young son, who’s been raised by Rebecca since he was a baby (intermittent passages from Abel’s perspective add texture to the tale). Veronica and company realize that Abel is the true target and take pains to conceal that fact from him. Ramsey, meanwhile, has little success shaking the complacent Reverend Brown or digging up any dirt about him. Hanson manages to get himself captured. Through a drug-induced haze, he must engineer an escape.

Shrewd details and effectively spun stereotypes. Though the revelation doesn’t quite live up to the foreshadowing, clean, polished prose makes the many pages seem fewer than they are.

Pub Date: July 25th, 2002
ISBN: 0-446-52615-0
Page count: 580pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2002


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