British ex-police officer Harriet Armstrong discovers the beaten body of a young woman while out night-jogging through a snow-gripped Rock Creek Park in Washington DC. From that moment we embark on an exhilarating thriller which mixes politics and science with deadliest violence. The body is found just yards from the home of Senator John Cannon. Investigator Michael Freeman soon becomes suspicious not least because he and Cannon once served in the same military unit, albeit in different wars. Is there a particular reason why Freeman has been picked to investigate the murder? What is Cannon at such pains to hide? The murderer, though, is clearly out of control. More corpses follow and Freeman follows the trail of blood to Germline BioSciences, a cutting-edge research facility funded by the American Government. By the time that Harriet (or Harry) is hired as bodyguard to the niece of the Russian exile Dr Markoff who directs the facilities, the coincidences have become too much for Freeman. The pace steps up a notch.
There is a huge amount going on in Rock Creek Park - political machinations, genetic science, post traumatic military stress, sexual domination and relationship upheaval. There is much to commend the thriller, quite apart from its exciting, blood-pumping plot, not least the characters of Harriet and Freeman. These two people, each suspicious of the other, are thrown into a situation outside their control, both having to deal with domestic difficulties and both soon facing enormous danger. While Freeman attempts to understand his relationship with fellow police officer Maja, Harriet is coming to terms with her desire to have a child - a need that makes her vulnerable to the affection of the vital young niece of Dr Markoff. These complications add a human dimension to the novel and provide a fine context for the thrill of the chase.
The work of Germline is fascinatingly presented. How it connects with the horrific murders is something that Freeman is determined to discover. A chief concern is to give a name and identity to the young battered woman found so brutally murdered in Rock Creek Park. However, this is Washington DC. This is a place that prides itself on secrets.
Quite late in the novel, the action moves to the Caucasus, exploring the Russian element of the plot that has been there from the beginning. This does make for an ending with an adrenalin-packed punch but I did feel that this part of the thriller, although edge-of-seat exciting, is less satisfying and more fantastical than the very smart and gripping Washington section. One does, though, make up for the other but I did feel towards the end that Conway had become too distracted by the chase.
Rock Creek Park, despite its sensationalist elements, is a thoroughly enjoyable thriller and mystery which makes excellent use of its wintry Washington DC setting as well as its intriguing protagonists. I'm a big fan of science thrillers and I'm delighted to discover an author who does it very well indeed. I'm grateful for my review copy.
on 18 April 2013
I have read all of Conway's Novels, and have thoroughly enjoyed them, this being no exception. The plot was fast paced, the characters very good, and I found the whole book very difficult to put down. I was curious to read this novel, as on he face of it, a detective thriller, was a departure from his previous novels, however it was a thoroughly good read, and I would recommend it. I look forward to his next book.
on 25 March 2013
Part police procedural, part spy thriller, part apocalyptic sci-fi - but all of it absolutely brilliant, seat-of-the-chair entertainment - Conway's latest is a book that defies pigeon-holing, and is far, far more satisfying as a result. The body of a beautiful young woman is discovered in Washington's Rock Creek Park near the property of a powerful politician and a world-weary, ex-special forces cop is given the unlovely task of unravelling the crime. The hunt for the killer takes the reader from the drug-blasted ghettoes of DC, via the covert palaces of US power to the lawless badlands north of the Caucasus and unveils a secret all the more horrifying for it's absolute plausibility. Don't expect to sleep much after beginning this book. Highly recommended!
on 23 August 2012
Favourable reviews of books by "The Economist" have been hit and miss for me in the past, but I would say I agree with the recent positive words in respect of this book.
This is a well-written novel which plays with a scary scientific theme - namely, the possibility that humans can be altered, by using certain animal genes, to be either providers of pleasure and/or fiercer fighters. The two main protagonists are a former soldier (Michael) who is now a policeman, and a former British policewoman ("Harry"), now based in the States, who secures a temporary job as a bodyguard. Their lives sort of come together as she discovers a brutalized body, while jogging, and he is called in to investigate the murder.
The science - to this layman, at least - was well-presented and reasonably easy to follow without being intimidating. And Conway does very well in developing the story components, which also include political shenanigans, and building both tension and excitement. His experience in the military shows and there is a lot of edge-of-the-seat stuff here. A little more colour in the characters may have been helpful though.
There are some unlikely story components and these become much more regular as we move towards the end. In fact, the last fifth of the book, which is spent in the Caucuses in the former Soviet Union, was too over-the-top for my liking and thus watered down my enjoyment of the novel. I also struggled, at times, with sudden changes in the predicaments of some of the characters.
Happily, no Kindle typo or formatting issues to report.
In short, I very much liked the writing and the creative plot, but was less enthusiastic about the licence the author took towards the end. That said, there was certainly enough there to look out for more by Conway. 7/10
I love a thriller that takes me on a journey and since we lost Michael Crichton, believable science that keeps the journey moving have been few and far between, that is of course until I read this book by Simon Conway that delves into the mystery of the manipulation of the human genome.
Here within this book you get a high octane thriller mixed with some cracking prose, some wonderful manipulation of the human state and when added to an arc that keeps you glued from the start to the finish, really makes this a book that was a lot of fun to read. Great stuff,
on 21 June 2013
I've read a number of Conway`s book, which are generally good but this is his best yet - he has found his stride. He always situated his characters in borders, people of certain loyalties in plots on the edge of the possible. Here the just possible works well enough to make you ponder on the subject in a fast moving adult thriller.
on 9 August 2013
This is a "standard" thriller, but done extremely well. Often such books become tiresome as the characters are paper thin, the writing is dreary and the plot predictable. This book avoids such pitfalls while still being in the traditional mould: troubled cop from tough background, powerful politicians, the shadowy military/industrial complex, familiar DC setting. The pace really kicks in about 1/3 through and keeps up momentum. It's not original enough to be a must-read, but for a well written book to unwind with over the holidays, it's perfect.
on 23 March 2013
For anyone who enjoyed a great book don't miss this one. Rather different to Simon Conway's previous novels, but just as enjoyable and highly recommended.
on 8 February 2016
Brilliant read, you won't be able to put it down. Very different plot from any other book I have read. I am surprised it is not a movie yet!
on 18 August 2013
Crazy but strangely believable plotline and good characters. Russian sex monkeys, who'd have thought. A right good romp worthy of a gander.