The Caline Conspiracy, by M.H. Mead

“No that’s not a typo – the Caline in this conspiracy is a genetically engineered pet, which at first glance could be classed as a Canine.  The mad scientist behind this ‘perfect’ personalised pet is Dr Frithke, and he’s apparently just been murdered by his own Caline – Madeline.  Open and shut case? Maybe, but the widow is convinced that something is amiss and she’s called in a P.I. to some digging.”

Rating: 5 stars

Genre: Sci-Fi Mystery

I have to admit that this book was not quite what I expected from the blurb and continuing along the line of honesty – I was also supposed to be reviewing another book this week but in a brief moment of weakness I took a peak and got sucked in.  Before I knew what had happened I’d eaten my way through the 200+ pages and suddenly had to find something else to do… or perhaps to start communicating with the outside world again…

So.  What did I like about this?  It was gripping – the pace was well set and I could really relate to the main character Aidra.  It’s set in the not-so-distant future where gene manipulation is standard practice, but, in response to the ‘vaccine plague’ (a mutation of the ‘cure’ to AIDs and Malaria), strict legislation was passed in the US to halt manipulation of the human genome. This backdrop really opened up the opportunity for the author to throw some genuinely troubling ethical questions at the reader and that gave the story some bite.

What I didn’t like?  Ok, not much but… There was an interesting point where Aidra is hounded by reporters and I found it difficult to believe (or I’m troubled by the prospect) that reporters could gain so much ‘virtual’ power that they could hassle an individual in a police parking lot without any ramifications.  I also felt that the background with regards to outlawing gene manipulation could have been padded out a little.  Now notice that these are minor niggles…

This is a world and a set of characters that I can see being spun into an interesting series and, from the quality of the kindle version I would assume it had also been professionally edited. Although I had a suspicion of the culprit from early on, there was enough mystery and breadcrumbs (the quarters in the envelope…) to keep me on my toes.

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