The Genesis Code
John Case
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Get *The Genesis Code* delivered to your door! The Genesis Code
John Case
Fawcett Columbine
435 pages
April 1997

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I'm not normally a thriller reader because, quite frankly, these suspense novels just don't thrill me. But as Ballantine Books had sent an advance reader's copy of a new John Case novel, I decided to take a break from my usual fare of character-driven novels and give The Genesis Code a shot.

Curled Up With a Good BookThis book is anything but a no-brainer. "John Case," the book says, is "the pseudonym of an award-winning investigative reporter and the author of two nonfiction books about the U.S. intelligence community... resident of Washington D.C., he is the proprietor of a company that specializes in international investigations for law firms and labor unions." Take out the "reporter" and "author" parts, and you describe perfectly Joe Lassiter, protagonist of The Genesis Code.

The story opens in a small Italian village where a priest hears a confession that nearly stops his heart. What a doctor tells him in the confessional booth is a secret that could rock the Catholic Church, indeed the very world, to its foundations. The reader quickly gets a lesson in Vatican hierarchy and bureaucracy as well as a window into the right-wing reactionary Catholic sect called Umbra Domini, where wheels are set turning.

American Joe Lassiter comes onto the scene when he learns that his sister and her son have died in an apparent case of arson overkill. An investigator by profession, he quickly learns that his sister and nephew were murdered before the fire. Their killer is in custody, but not talking, when the body of Lassiter's nephew is exhumed and reincinerated. Lassiter is galvanized, and off after the story's main intriguing question: Why?

Lassiter's quest for the reason of his sister's death will put him in the crosshairs of an international conspiracy. Along the way, the reader learns a lot about international police agencies, schism within the Catholic Church, fertility procedures, Christian holy relics, and the biological foundations of cloning. One thing I will tell you: no one here is trying to recreate Hitler (that's a pet peeve of mine in suspense thrillers -- neo-Nazis bringing Hitler back to life, whether it be through cloning or by somehow having cryogenically preserved his head. Not here.) As Lassiter begins untangling the knot of conspiracy, he will discover a secret as explosive as it is relevant to recent headlines.

The weakest part of The Genesis Code is the ending. The story's central question is answered, but the character of Joe Lassiter loses some of his integrity. And given the plausible nature of the novel as a whole, the final paragraph of the epilogue seems a wee bit fantastic. All in all, though, The Genesis Code is very readable and entertaining for a book of its genre, well-suited for that time when you just want to escape for a few hours.

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