Monday, January 10, 2011

Spiral-Paul McEuen

Paul McEuen
Dial Press (Random House), Mar 22 2011, $25.00
ISBN 9780385342117

In Ithaca, New York, everyone at Cornell University is stunned when octogenarian emeritus Professor of Biology Liam Connor commits suicide. The Nobel Prize winner in nano-science and nano-robotic technology seemed contented in his role of elder statesmen and mentor. Especially shocked by his death is his family including his granddaughter Maggie and his academic partner Professor Jake Sterling; neither had seen it coming.

The pair has no time to grieve when an autopsy reveals that silicon metallic micro-robots were implanted in the stomach of the victim. Maggie and Jake know their hero did not kill himself, but was apparently murdered to probably cover up his being tortured. Meanwhile as Connor’s granddaughter and the professor struggle with his enigmatic messages from the grave, someone plans to release a biological doomsday bomb with ties to the WWII Japanese Imperial Army bio-weapons development Unit #731.

Spiral contains a strong story line that starts off as an amateur sleuth homicide investigation that evolves into a bio-weapons thriller with a genuine historical link. Fast-paced from start to finish, the keys are the college setting and the relationships between the lead couple and with the deceased that brings the sense of urgency to the action-packed story line with time running out echoing the final scene in Fail Safe when Manhattan is bombed.

Harriet Klausner

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