Can a reviewer, in all good conscience, recommend a thriller that most readers will have pretty well twigged a quarter of the way—okay, halfway—through the story? Yes, if the thriller is as sharply written and paced as The Genesis Code, a first novel by a pseudonymous private investigator.
Joe Lassiter, head of a highly regarded and successful investigative agency in Washington, must bring all his skills, instincts and connections to bear when his sister and her young son are mysteriously murdered. Gradually a pattern emerges: Six other women and their young sons have been eliminated in similar fashion. All of the women had been patients at an Italian fertility clinic run by a doctor whose interest in cutting-edge reproductive techniques is matched only by his passion for theology. All roads lead to Rome, specifically to Umbra Domini, a radical and highly potent right-wing branch of the Catholic Church.
The Genesis Code deals with some of the same subject matter as Dean Koontz's current bestseller Sole Survivor, but with a far greater sense of style and suspense. One could have done without the author's annoying attempts at symbolism, but in a book that snaps, crackles and pops like The Genesis Code, that does riot a serious sin make. (Fawcett, $24.95)