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Sequence Hardcover – June 13, 2006
This month's Book With Buzz: "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture - perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. See more
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From Publishers Weekly
At the start of this uneven debut thriller from Andrews, a lawyer and biotechnology expert with a high media profile, geneticist Alexandra Blake is working on developing a vaccine against infectious diseases for the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP) in Washington, D.C., when her unit is drafted to deal with a serial killer targeting military bases. Blake's professional life gets even more complicated after her new boyfriend, David Thorne, a maverick Texas congressman, becomes a suspect in the murder of Ted Devon, the ex-husband of Thorne's ex-lover, Gloria Devon (a former senator just named as the FBI's first female director). Flat, sometimes simplistic prose ("Alex guessed that if your job was to help run the country, nothing was too big or small to think about") and Blake's unconvincing transformation into an action heroine suggest that the author is still learning her craft. Hopefully, Andrews will do a better storytelling job in the sequel.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From one of the U.S.'s leading experts in biotechnology comes a thriller about a geneticist who reluctantly becomes a sleuth. The premise, which will remind some readers of the popular TV series NCIS, involves a civilian doctor, Alexandra Blake, who is conducting blue-sky research at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology when her new boss tells her to put aside the research and handle forensics at a crime scene. This quickly leads Blake into a desperate hunt for a serial killer. Andrews clearly knows her subject matter, and she has constructed a solid story, but the book suffers from a common mistake: using conversation between characters to provide backstory for the reader and, in the process, producing thoroughly artificial dialogue. Similarly, she tends to repeat characters' full names and titles a little too often, as though she thinks her readers might be a tad dim. Despite these somewhat amateurish flaws, the novel generates plenty of excitement and should be recommended to fans of forensic-based thrillers in the Reichs and Cornwall mold. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top customer reviews
At any rate, while some of Lori Andrews's books have kept my interest long enough to finish them, this one fell flat. I quit after the first 80 pages -- 25% of the book by page count. As another reviewer has said, the characters aren't credible. They don't have to be realistic -- how realistic are the characters of Reichs, Sanders, Parker, or Block -- not! -- but they are interesting enough to invite the reader's willing suspension of disbelief. Not happening in this book.
Dr. Alexandra Blake is in her mid-thirties and has a two-year fellowship at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP), a real place by the way. They have a new boss come in, Jack Wiatt who is a military guy who is disappointed he did not get the job as head of the FBI that he wanted. The first thing he does he start trying to make the AFIP more of a forensic investigative unit that the research center they've been. Alex is an M.D. and a Ph.D. and has been investigating the 1918 Spanish flu virus by using a body of a woman that was found well preserved in some permafrost.
However, with a serial killer on the loose killing women around military bases, Alex is soon called in to crime scenes and autopsies and various other forensic investigation processes. As she copes with that and her "real" job, she also meets a Texas congressman that she begins a romantic liaison with. To complicate matters, another murder is committed by the serial killer plus another homicide that is unrelated to the serial killer but very close to Alex and her new lover.
Well-written and pretty exciting. Could be a little faster paced but well done overall.
Other reviewers look askance at Ms. Andrews' habit of using dialog to provide background information. If that were a fatal flaw, then we must toss out the works of everyone from Homer to Aeschylus to Shakespeare to the perpetrators of the latest CSI Oshkosh.
The book has even been criticized for being a not very thrilling thriller and a not very suspenseful suspense story.
There is some truth in each of these criticisms. If fault must be apportioned, then much should go to the editor whom Ms. Andrews names and thanks in her acknowledgments at the end of the novel. That editor should, somewhere between submission and publication, have taken Ms. Andrews aside, sat her down and told her some hard truths about professional pacing and dialog. The printed text, alas, strongly suggests that she did nothing of the kind.
Let me toss in a pet peeve of my own. On the cover of the paperback edition a quotation from a professional reviewer states, "Plenty of excitement for fans of forensic-based thrillers in the Reichs and Cornwell mold." Well, in my opinion, not really. Yes, there certainly is some scientific clue-hunting, but it hardly serves as the central core as it does with Reichs and in the earlier Cornwell books.
If I have been a slightly dismissive of the faults named by others, it is not because I disagree with them. It is because it strikes me that these faults are secondary in nature and arise from a deeper fault. I think this book is not entirely successful because Ms. Andrews has aimed too high rather than too low. I think that into the 310 paperback pages of "Sequence," Ms. Andrews has shoehorned not a single novel, not even two, but at the very least three separate novels--or rather what should have been published as three separate novels after Ms. Andrews had polished her stories and broadened them out so they could stand on their own.
Every mystery novel draws in a series of strings for the purpose of tying them together in a satisfying knot at the end. There are simply too many strings in this book. They include but are not limited to the tough new boss string, the woman in a man's profession string, the line department vs. the politicians string, the insecure woman torn between two lovers string, the other woman string, the public service vs. private profit string, the military vs. civilians string, the old sins generate current pains string, the thrill and drudgery of scientific discovery string, the push-pull on the museum string. Those who have read it will know what I mean when I write that there are too many murders in this book. There are so many strings that Ms. Andrews proved unable to gather them into a single knot, with the consequence that "Sequence" comes to an end at least three times and in three separate chapters.
Now, it seems to me that aiming high by jamming too much stuff into a book is a considerably lesser fault than generating a single inadequate idea and straining to stretch it into novel length. It is a fault that can be overcome by analysis, self-criticism and sheer hard labor at her new craft of wordsmithing fiction.
Where others see faults, I also see potential. On the basis of that potential, I give this book four hopeful stars.
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