The Killing Gene Book Review3 min read

“Day three of the journey, and now they crossed a landscape of rolling savannah interspersed with thickets of jungle from which the screech of monkeys carried in the hot still air. This marbling of woods and grassland was punctuated by mud hut villages where each night Harkness bartered their commodities for shelter. Where rays of sunshine penetrated the clouds the grass was spotlighted in dazzling emerald, and the pockets of forest were blackened cumuli in the heat haze.”

Author: E.M. Davey                      Published: 2018                            Pages: 317

The Killing Gene is a thriller novel which begins with linguist, Dr Sakiko Tsuda, going missing in the middle of a dense and unforgiving jungle. One of her colleagues, Professor Randolph Harkness, takes it upon himself to investigate her disappearance and find out if she is still alive. Caught in a web of murders, lies, and political scandal, Harkness soon realises there is more to Tsuda’s whereabouts than simply her curiosity for language. He finds himself on the way to the Congo, along with his friend’s son, Ross MaCartney, and together they begin to unravel a deep and twisted organisation tinged with secrecy and tainted with blood.

This novel really reminded me of reading Dan Brown, I don’t know whether the author will take that as a compliment or not, because some people don’t like Dan Brown novels, but I personally love them. There was so much detail throughout the novel, and clearly a lot of research was carried out to include the complicated theories, history, and culture. I think this is what really made the novel great. While it was fiction, I actually felt like I was learning something while I was reading it, and just doing what books are supposed to do, teach you something and make you feel somewhat enlightened afterwards.

I have to admit some of the jargon along with the fast-paced nature of the novel made a few sections go over my head a little, but I think that only highlights what a good writer Davey is, because despite this, he never lost me, I could always keep up with the plot and characters no matter where I was in the novel.

I think McCartney was my favourite character in the book, he was endearing but also reckless which somehow made him more likeable. In a novel where there is a lot at stake, it was refreshing to see a character who was spontaneous and didn’t play by the rules. Plus, because of the diagnosis he received from the doctor at the beginning of the novel, it was inspiring to see him doing what he could with his life, before it became a struggle to enjoy anything.

I also like where Davey took the plot; it wasn’t completely wild or unrealistic, but it wasn’t predictable, and certainly not boring, plus the short chapters meant there was never much of a lull because I was itching to read the next one. I think he succeeded in writing a thriller which would be appealing to a very wide audience.

Davey’s writing was detailed, polished, and clever. It was everything I wanted in a thriller. Even if thrillers aren’t something you would normally read, Davey makes it more than that: yes, the thrill of the chases and danger lurking around every bend is exhilarating, but he allows you to also feel compassion and connect with the characters too. He is a talented writer and one I will certainly look out for in the future.

Thank you to Duckworth Press, for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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