cover image DEATH MATCH


Lincoln Child, . . Doubleday, $24.95 (368pp) ISBN 978-0-385-50670-0

A starred or boxed review indicates a book of outstanding quality. A review with a blue-tinted title indicates a book of unusual commercial interest that hasn't received a starred or boxed review.

DEATH MATCH Lincoln Child . Doubleday , $24.95 (400p) ISBN 0-385-50670-8

Child's work as both solo author (Utopia ) and with Douglas Preston (Relic ; Still Life with Crows ; etc.) always features concepts so high they threaten readers with nosebleeds. Eden, a computerized matchmaking corporation, promises clients who pay a $25,000 fee and pass strict psychological and physical testing that they will receive not just a date but a perfect romantic match, a soul mate with a lifetime money back guarantee. All of the couples brought together are blissfully happy; in the company's history no one has ever asked for a refund. The moving force behind Eden is a supercomputer named Liza and her designer, the brilliant, reclusive Richard Silver. Liza compares one million variables in its process, and those candidates with a 95% match rate are declared ideal mates. Six couples out of the 624,000 people who have gone through the program have had all million variables perfectly aligned, creating what Eden calls "Supercouples." But one of the supercouples has inexplicably committed double suicide. Dr. Christopher Lash, a psychologist specializing in marital relationships, is called in to discover what has gone horribly wrong. Within a week, a second supercouple have also killed themselves. Lash works with security technician Tara Stapleton to investigate some of the individuals rejected by Eden. At the end of the book Lash is in serious trouble, and the entire Eden house of cards is beginning to collapse. As in all of Child's work, there is plenty of interesting cutting-edge science and, in this case, psychiatric and computer lore. Most thriller veterans will know from almost the beginning who is behind the suicides of the supercouples, but putting it all together makes for an entertaining read. (May)

Forecast :An intriguing premise, lots of fascinating science, a broad fan base and excellent film prospects add up to happy sales.