cover image Oaths and Miracles

Oaths and Miracles

Nancy Kress. Forge, $22.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-312-85961-9

The potential hazards and social consequences of genetic engineering provide the matrix for this provocative thriller by Kress, author of Hugo and Nebula Award-winning science fiction novels. Boston-area freelance journalist Judy O'Brien Kozinski is devastated by the murder of her husband, Ben, an eminent geneticist. Determined to find his killers, despite her rage at discovering that he'd been having an affair, Judy stays one step ahead of edgy, dogged FBI detective Robert Cavanaugh, a lovelorn agent who obsessively faxes and e-mails letters to his estranged wife. The trail leads to a New Jersey biotechnology firm with which Ben had interviewed. The firm turns out not only to have mob connections but also to have been secretly working on an airborne killer virus that can be customized to infect specific individuals. Also involved is an apocalyptic religious cult in upstate New York, the Soldiers of the Divine Covenant, whose members practice animal sacrifice. The plot ultimately is far-fetched, but Kress, a witty and engaging writer, is in lucid command of key principles of, and advances in, molecular biology. She creates chilling suspense as twisty as a DNA double helix. (Jan.)