My second stop on the 12 Days of Clink Street celebration tour. Check out my first post here and see the tour poster below for more reviews from other bloggers.
The discovery of the Achilles gene by Ahmad Sharif at the Middle East Centre for Cancer and AIDS Research (MECCAR), recently opened in Jordan’s remote Wadi Rum desert, had stunned Western scientists. Each gene having the potential to destroy its own cell should it ever become cancerous, the discovery had promised a universal cure for the disease. But there was a hitch. Although every one of our cells has the gene, only those of a unique Bedouin tribe have the extra piece of DNA needed to turn it on. Dr Stephen Salomon of the US National Cancer Institute claims to have invented such a switch, for which he will soon receive the Nobel Prize. But maverick Oxford don Giles Butterfield suspects his American friend’s invention might be fraudulent. After a sleepless night in his office in Magdalen College, he sets off for Heathrow in search of the truth. When his young assistant Fiona Cameron unexpectedly joins him in Washington, it is the start of a globetrotting adventure the outcome of which exceeds their wildest expectations, presenting Giles with a dilemma of epic proportions.
My thoughts: overall this was an interesting book, I was really intrigued by the Bedouin tribe with the interesting DNA strand, and the whole Achilles gene, secretive lab in the desert stuff as well, proper conspiracy thriller territory but I wasn’t too bothered about the dodgy American scientist scamming the Nobel committee – they’ve been mired in controversy for some time now.
I found Giles a bit pompous and annoying, his obsession with Liverpool, but a Liverpool that doesn’t exist anymore as it’s a modern city, not the fantasy one he romanticises endlessly, Dark & Stormy cocktails (rum, ginger beer, lime – not that amazing tbh), and old fashioned traditional English stodge cooking were all a bit of an affectation too far at times and verged on parody. Especially once his brother has been introduced and it’s so obviously put on. I wanted more of Fiona, whose main problem was being in love with Giles, who walks all over her.
She figures out the thing with the file dates, and he sends her off to teach his students while he goes off to be lauded as a hero by the Nobel people for preventing a fraud winning their top prize.
What started off as quite a tense scientific thriller confused me at first with the non-linear timeline and then lost me a bit with the endless section on the name of a file on a computer that went on a bit too long, but pulled it together in the final act. I got that the fact that the scientist had lied and his computer proved it but it was a bit fiddly and I wanted more on the dead man drowned in a swimming pool, there was definitely something fishy about his death, although that looks like it might be a case for book two.
I hope Fiona gets her own back in the next book and that Giles gets his arrogance brought down to earth, especially if he’s going up against governments this time, one’s who might have murdered an inconvenient scientist who said too much.
*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.