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Guest Reviewer Ash on The Belief Gene by Danny Roberts

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Format: Kindle Edition

File Size: 949 KB

Print Length: 347 pages

Publisher: Matador (21 April 2016)

Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.

Language: English

ASIN: B01EMF4G1W

Synopsis: At a European Union summit in Brussels, a shadowy conspiracy forms to steal secret technology from the Catholic Church; in a hotel bedroom in Krakow, Poland, a woman steals semen from a rich footballer; in Bautzen, Germany, a butcher takes delivery of human meat from a Polish murderer of prostitutes; and in Rome and Krakow, a scientist and a priest plot to use a drug which can manipulate the beliefs of millions of people. Inspector Tom Zalucki of the Krakow Police is faced with the hardest puzzle of his career. Why has a professional assassin expertly murdered a young Italian priest and a Ukrainian cleaner in the male toilets of Balice International Airport? Why has the Italian’s body been stolen from Krakow City Morgue and then butchered in a cave in the heart of the Indestructible Forest? What is the connection with the fifty cannibal murders by the German Franz Tham in war-torn Krakow in 1943? Why is the powerful American head of the Catholic Order of the Galatians actively obstructing the police investigation? What is the link with a secret Krakow fertility clinic and a Roman biological research laboratory? How does the science of ‘epigenetics’ fit into all this? What is the relevance of the blackmail plot affecting a famous English footballer, being investigated by his influential PI, a gay Moslem Tatar, with whom Zalucki has clashed in the past? 

Aided by the beautiful coroner Ewa Kwiatowska, Zalucki must piece together the appalling truth, in a dangerous race against time that will pit him against a powerful secret group of Brussels-based conspirators drawn from all parts of the European Union hierarchy. His investigations will have tentacles extending deep into the darkest parts of Polish history and politics, and into the heart of the Catholic Church. Overshadowing everything though will be the hunt for the ultimate drug to control us all…by the manipulation of The Belief Gene.

Ash's Rating: 4/5

Ash Review: You don’t have to engage much with the world at the moment to hear arguments for and against being part of the EU however the presence of a powerful hidden group (Le Mouvement pour la Creation d’un Nouveau Monde) within it who wish to control us via the use of epigenetics is not one you are likely to hear.  That this hidden group might be vying with the Galation Order of the Catholic Church for a code which would enable scientist to unlock a gene within the population to control their beliefs seems wildly implausible.  Yet in the hands of Danny Roberts this implausible narrative becomes entirely feasible with a plot so intricate and characters so well thought out that within the initial chapters my head was spinning at the sheer complexity of “The Belief Gene”.

The multiple locations and subplots to this novel mean that it is a book I had to give my full concentration. It was worth it though as I got invested in the characters. The aspect of this book which impressed my most was how well the subplots regarding the deaths in Krakow, the blackmail plot and the quests by the Galation Order and the ,Le Mouvement pour la Creation d’un Noveau Mondeu’ were sewn together. With so many characters with wildy varying motivations for actions which seem to impact more widely than they could anticipate, it is to Robert’s credit that no part of the plot felt cobbled together and the resolutions of investigations and quests feels both unexpected and yet completely possible.

My only gripe with “The Belief Gene” is one which may appear small but which irked me throughout. David, the footballer who is blackmailed and whose quest to Krakow to find his blackmailers runs throughout the plot, and his wife Becky reminded me of a real- life football couple throughout. The only similarities were the footballers name and his wife being a designer however I felt that alone was a distraction and with a book so incredibly well thought out, it seems unnecessary.

Gripe aside, this is a well planned and entertaining book with a unique plotline and characters who managed to engage my empathy from the outset. I really enjoyed the principle investigative character Zalucki and also found the multiple locations and international plot captured and maintained my interest. I am really looking forward to reading Robert’s follow up to this ambitious and engaging first novel.

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