Double Helix

by Sigmund Brouwer
Reviewed date: 2007 Apr 2
Rating: 2
306 pages
cover art

If Sigmund Brouwer has talent, Double Helix displays none of it. The sparse bits of science take a back seat to the ludicrous plot, and the characters are caricatures rather than believable figures with human motivations. Then, for good measure, Brouwer throws in some gratuitous religion at the climax.

The villains are cartoonish. Van Klees, the top baddie, heads a clandestine research operation that is using cloning and genetic engineering to produce the perfect human. Van Klees has no scruples, and performs all manner of grisly experiments on creations. He kills anyone who learns too much about his Institute. No motivation other than money is offered to explain Van Klees's monstrous crimes.

Van Klees's right hand man is Zwaan. His only motivation appears to be sadism: he enjoys torturing people. Zwaan does all the dirty work: arranging accidents for people who know too much about the Institute, torturing and murdering any Institute scientist who steps out of line, and kidnapping African refugees to use as surrogate mothers for Van Klees's clones. Zwaan is a cold-blooded killer whose favorite part of inflicting pain is listening to the symphonies of pain.

On the side of justice we have Slater Ellis, a man on the run from the law. He's been hiding out in New Mexico until he stumbles upon three children who escaped from Van Klees's laboratory. The children speak only Latin (again, not explained in the book. Where did Van Klees even find a native speaker of Latin to raise the clones?) Instead of turning the kids over to the authorities, or just letting them go, Ellis takes it upon himself to exact justice on Van Klees. He gets help from a professor of Latin from a California university--who also doesn't see the need to contact the authorities.

Our other hero/love interest is Paige Stephens, widow of Darby Stephens, who killed himself out of guilt over his involvement in Van Klees's Institute. Paige investigates her husband's death, and her meddling eventually leads her to Slater Ellis. (Actually, an unbelievably fortuitous coincidence leads Ellis to her, but let's not criticize Brouwer too much. Writing books is hard.) Together, they outwit Van Klees and bring down his empire of evil.

Double Helix rates barely a two.

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