cover image Genocide of One

Genocide of One

Kazuaki Takano, trans, from the Japanese by Philip Gabriel. Little, Brown/Mulholland, $26 (512p) ISBN 978-0-316-22622-6

Michael Crichton fans will welcome Takano's exceptional thriller, the Japanese author's first novel to be translated into English. President Gregory S. Burns, a stand-in for George W. Bush (it's 2004, and the president has begun wars in Afghanistan and Iraq), is disturbed to learn of a dire threat in his daily brief: a new type of life form has appeared in the Democratic Republic of the Congo that "may lead to the extinction of all mankind." Takano neatly alternates among the players around the globe: the team of mercenaries hired to deal with the threat, who have not been told the truth about their assignment, and whose leader's son is dying of a rare illness; a pharmaceutical researcher in Japan unraveling a cryptic legacy from his late father, who seemed to have anticipated not being around; and Machiavellian plotters in Washington, D.C. First-rate characterizations, even of walk-on figures, lend plausibility to the sophisticated story line.(Dec)