cover image Ammon’s Horn, or the Mystery of the Brain

Ammon’s Horn, or the Mystery of the Brain

Pierre and Christine Magistretti. Other Press, $17.99 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-1-6354-2360-0

Married physicians Pierre (Gilal Man) and Christine Magistretti attempt to bring their medical expertise to this tedious thriller. At the center of the story are five international neuroscientists competing for a $100 million grant and a leadership position with a new Alzheimer’s institute helmed by wealthy Swiss businessman Fred Lindenmayer, whose wife has been diagnosed with the disease. The competition—a series of complex riddles that contain “a historical part and a scientific part”—sends the ludicrously accomplished contestants on a tour of European cities to uncover the answers to each one. Soon, the participants begin receiving mysterious letters urging them to drop out of the competition lest “something terrible” happen. Though Lindenmayer strives to put the contest back on course, the threats persist, and the scientists must determine whether the rewards are worth the risk to their lives. The characters rarely interact with one another in meaningful ways, limiting the Magistrettis’ ability to develop the plot into more than a series of clever puzzles, and sections meant to illuminate the real-world state of Alzheimer’s research fall flat. Astute riddle-solvers might enjoy themselves, but for the most part, this is a slog. (Oct.)