Latest indie book review: kiDNApped by Rick Chesler

(No star rating given for indies.)

Summary: (science thriller; series: Tara Shores #2)  From Chalet Publishers website: A priceless biotechnology, an FBI agent, and an unspeakable act of familial betrayal collide in a tropical kidnapping more twisted than a DNA double helix. When a renowned scientist with a solution for global warming is kidnapped at sea, FBI Special Agent Tara Shores must unravel a high-tech trail of S.O.S. messages encoded into the DNA of living cells. As each decoded message brings Tara nearer to the missing genius, it also takes her farther from help than she ever thought possible.

Click here to read an excerpt of the novel.

Review:  kiDNApped is an excellent indie novel that science thriller fans would do well to enjoy on a flight to Hawaii.  Set in the Hawaiian islands, this book covers many settings on the islands at a blistering pace, from crowded Honolulu to a remote tropical river on Kauai to the desolate peak of Mauna Kea (and more).  Science is absolutely central to the story, and one of the protagonists is actually a former professor of microbiology from a California State University (hey, so am I! Gotta love this character, Kristen Archer).  Chesler was obviously inspired by the real-life scientific and financial accomplishments of American genius Craig Venter and his Sorcerer II seaborne bioprospecting expedition.  kiDNApped opens strong with a great underwater murder scene suffused with claustrophobic fear of drowning.  Soon the reader meets FBI agent Tara Shores, and the (adult) children of a missing millionaire scientist whose unsolved case Tara was about to close.  With Kristen doing the scientific heavy-hitting and Tara doing the gun-slinging, this female duo is bound to save the day in the end.

STRENGTHS:  Great scientific concepts that are based in reality, especially the secret messages encoded in DNA “watermarks”.  (I also love the “designer cat” idea mentioned in passing early in the story.  Would love to get one of those in real life!)  Vivid setting in Hawaiian islands with lots of local color and local detail.  Good pacing will keep you reading to the end.  FBI agent Tara Shores is one cool, competent chick who is a great character for author Rick Chesler to build a series upon (Wired Kingdom was the first).

WEAKNESSES:  Scientific concepts in the story are spot-on but the details of execution are off; however, unless you’ve worked in molecular biology yourself, you probably won’t notice or care.  Quite a few inconsistent or highly improbable events (for example, the absence of decompression sickness in Dave’s first ascent from the deep; the characters’ failure to recognize the UPS guy as a threat; strange breaks in the tension to eat or have an alcoholic drink; the lack of police backup at the climax).  I would’ve liked a few more pages of denouement at the end; the story ends abruptly with the conclusion of the action.

Summary: a fun page-turner with cool scientific plot elements that enhance the story, featuring smart female protagonists, and set in Hawaii.

FCC disclaimer: A free e-copy of this book was given to me by the author for review. As always, I made no guarantee that I would read the book or post a positive review.

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