cover image The Darwin Strain: An R.J. MacCready Novel

The Darwin Strain: An R.J. MacCready Novel

Bill Schutt and J.R. Finch. Morrow, $26.99 (432p) ISBN 978-0-06-283547-5

Set in 1948, Schutt and Finch’s excellent third cryptozoological thriller (after 2017’s The Himalayan Codex) takes American zoologist and operative R.J. MacCready to Greece to help his friend, real-life oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, who has an unsettling encounter with a terrifying something off the coast of the island of Santorini. While on a dive with two colleagues to explore the underwater caldera in the area known as the Devil’s Hole, Cousteau watches the two get torn apart by what looks like a black shimmering curtain. Cousteau escapes, but he’s arrested after the authorities don’t believe his cover story that a shark attacked his companions. MacCready manages to arrange Cousteau’s release, and together they find that a previously unknown life form, whose intelligence may rival that of humans, caused the deaths. The stakes rise when the Soviets take an interest in the discovery, which comes just as Cold War tensions are coming to a boil. A detailed and informative afterword lays out the historical and scientific background for the authors’ plausible speculations. Schutt and Finch are worthy successors of Michael Crichton. Agent: Gillian MacKenzie, Gillian MacKenzie Agency. (Aug.)