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If Jesus died for our sins, did he leave anything behind for us? Over the centuries since the rise and fall (and rise again) of Jesus H Christ wars have been fought in his name. Some wars were fought against other religions who did not believe in the same book as Christians, but some wars were also fought amongst their own. Relics of Christ's life have dotted history as Kings have wanted to own a part of the Saviour be it; a splinter from the cross, the lance that pierced his side, the grail, or his very bones. Famous examples such as the Shroud of Turin have been debunked, but if we did have a real relic could we not test the DNA? Perhaps in the future we could make like Jurassic Park and create 'Jesus Park' full of his clones. This is the concept that John Case explores (but in a more serious manner) in 'The Genesis Code'.
When Joe Lassiter's sister and her young son are brutally murdered then their corpses set alight it appears to be a motiveless crime. A man is discovered nearby covered in hideous burns and DNA evidence has him at the scene. To the police this is an open and shut case - they have their man, but Joe wants to know why and the man is not talking. As the head of a private investigator firm Joe has the resources to go it alone and discover the truth. His investigations will lead him to Rome and a mysterious Catholic group who have splintered from the central church. Are they to blame for the murder of his family and if so why?
When it comes to reading I am not a snob, in fact, I am somewhat of an inverted snob preferring simple thrillers to anything that graces the Booker Prize. I have read many pot boilers and rate them on how thrilling they are, fast paced and entertaining. Whilst something like 'The Da Vinci Code' is not great writing, it does entertain and for that alone if worth a trip on holiday. Written 6 years earlier than the famous code book 'The Genesis Code' is still in the same genre of books you would buy in the airport to read whilst you were away. Therefore, for the book to succeed it has to do nothing more than entertain - oh dear.
The major issue with 'Genesis' is that it is too long for what it is. The story is a simple enough one that does not have much going on, but somehow Case thinks he needs over 500 pages to tell us. The moments that contain action are good fun, but they happen too far apart. Most of the book is made up with investigative techniques that go into far too much detail. One particular example is the several pages that Case takes up informing the reader all about online search engines and exactly how best to search them. This over analytical type of writing is nothing more than a form of padding and not a valid part of a thriller.
The other major issue is to do with the fact that so much of the book is balanced on the suspense of the big reveal towards the end. Case has written a book that he hopes hints to the reader about what may be happening, only to surprise them with the truth at the end. However, any fan of thrillers will spot the reveal about 20 pages in and then have to wait a further 480 before Case actually tells you that you were right all along. The entire book collapses as you read it knowing full well what the conclusion would be and asking yourself how the character of Joe can be so successful as an investigator, yet so dumb.
The Catholic dogma that inhabits the book gives it a similar feel to 'Da Vinci' and like that book it suffers from trying to pretend to be cerebral when it is obviously daft. The character of Joe is decent enough and is a solid, if somewhat bland, lead. Personally, I would have preferred him to have been a bit more cosmopolitan because for a successful man he seems uneducated in a lot of ways. The lack of knowledge of Europe by an American does seem pretty jarring at times and the use of stereotypical Italian men is a tad underhand by author Case who should do better.
'The Genesis Code' is a thriller that commits the cardinal sin of not being thrilling. It also has nothing to do with a code either! The moments of action are like punctuations in an otherwise bland book about investigative skills. Characters appear and are either bland or stereotypical (in some cases both) which means that you cannot care for anyone in the book. However, it is the major failing of the author to realise that his twist is too obvious that really undermines the book. He builds to what he believes is a crescendo, only for it to fall on deaf ears. The majority of the readers will know the twist well before the book has ended and in some cases they will uncover it in the first two chapters.
Author: John Case
Price: amazon uk - £5.49
play.com - £5.49