"Cain's Blood" Book Review
Written by Steve Pattee
Published by Touchstone Books
Written by Geoffrey Girard
2013, 352 pages, Fiction
Book released on September 3rd, 2013
Ever since it was first made possible, the cloning of living things has been controversial to say the least. Some say we are tampering with God's work, while others argue that it's necessary to further advancement in the medical field. But no matter which way you look at it, it's fascinating. Just thinking about the simple fact somewhere, right now, someone in a lab is making a carbon copy of a living, breathing animal (or plant or whatever). As of this writing, there hasn't been a human cloned yet (allegedly), but just because something is prohibited it doesn't mean it's not happening. And what if it is happening, and the U.S. Department of Defense was funding it? Welcome to the universe of Cain's Blood.
Author Geoffrey Girard paints a very scary world in his latest novel. It seems that the scientists at The Massey Institute somehow thought cloning the world's most notorious serial killers in order to find out what makes them tick would be a good idea. But it didn't stop at just simple cloning. The head of the project, Dr. Jacobson, decided to take it one step further and study the nature versus nurture angle. So he put these clones in various households, ranging from the perfect Cleaver-esque family to hellholes of abuse and molestation. All in the name of science, of course.
But, as it goes, Jacobson isn't just a scientist, he's a mad one. And for some inexplicable reason he cuts loose copies of some of the most heinous men in history to be a traveling terror show. Albert Fish, Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahlmer, John Wayne Gacy, Albert DeSalvo, Henry Lee Lucas, and more...the gang's all here and they are looking to party. Fortunately for us non-psychopaths, a rock-star former special-ops soldier, Shawn Castillo, is brought in to clean up the mess the scientists at The Massey Institute have unleashed onto the world. And he gets help in the most unlikely of places.
In Cain's Blood, Girard effectively mixes excitement, science, and horror in one hell of a thrillfest. The point of view bounces between the escaped psycho- and sociopaths, with the majority time spent on our protagonist Castillo. You are both terrified and disgusted at the actions of the cloned serial killers and because of this, you find yourself both rooting more for Castillo to catch these kids by any means necessary. In addition, Girard expertly plays the nature versus nurture angle by having a cloned Jeffrey Dahlmer play an instrumental part in Castillo's mission tracking down the evil incarnates. The author does well with toying with your emotions of both wanting to hate the kid for what the source of his DNA did and desperately not wanting him to become a murderer. I actually felt compassion for Dahlmer, a teen literally the product of a lab experiment.
If the escape of the little monsters isn't enough to keep you up at night, Girard creates another living nightmare that is hunting these kids as well. Because Castillo isn't finding the group quite fast enough, his boss has The Massey Institute release another one of its science projects to quicken the job. Fluid, driven, and pure evil, this creature is focused on completing its mission and will only stop when killed. It has this uncanny knack of tracking down the boys (perhaps it helps that you know your own), and that makes things quite interesting since one of the cloned kids is helping Castillo. Let's just say it's not making his work any easier.
If there's a downside to Cain's Blood, it's ironically a result of what makes it work. There are a lot of terrific ideas and characters found throughout the novel: mad scientists, cloned serial killers, evil bounty hunters, missing canisters of insanity gas (which I didn't even touch on here), government conspiracies and more are found in the book, and 350 pages just isn't enough to develop all of these things. Don't get me wrong, I still enjoyed the hell out of it, and I can see myself reading it again because it's as thought provoking as it is exciting and terrifying. But there are ideas and characters found within its pages that I just want to know more about.
Fans of science gone awry will have a great time with Cain's Blood, as well as those who like Lee Child's "Reacher" novels but want something with a darker twist. The book is left wide open for a continuation of Castillo's adventures, and I am hoping that is Girard's plan. I'm ready to take that ride with him.
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