Book Review: Enhancement: Black Market DNA by Anthony J Melchiorri

Chris finds himself in the midst of a prison riot. He’s been in Fulton Penitentiary for 8 months for producing genies, illegal genetic implants used to enhance physical characteristics such as muscle mass and strength, of which there is a huge black market demand. He is released from prison soon after the riot and approached by a suited stranger who offers him a job in return for doing him a favour later on. As an ex-con Chris struggles to find employment and takes up the stranger’s offer. An evening out with his workmates leads to the murder of his supervisor but why would anyone want to kill him? Along with new work colleague Tracey he discovers that he is on a list of which five people are already dead. Can he stay alive and prevent more killing?

This futuristic thriller hit the ground running as it starts off in the middle of a violent prison riot and the story develops quite fast from there. I would have to concede that the first half is shrouded in mystery and although the odd clue is there, things don’t really pick up until the second half. There are some really fantastic futuristic hardware and cars that drive themselves but although Chris is not unlikeable I didn’t find him a particularly strong character. Tracey taking charge in the second half improved the pace and narrative but the finale dragged as descriptions got needlessly in the way as it was stretched a long way beyond interesting suspense.

There are some good bits of writing here: “In the vast lobby of the building, a contingent of Grecian columns stretched like ivory fingers from the swirled marble floor to the reliefs carved into the ceiling. Everything from the lush tropical plants adorning the artificial creek to the enormous holo-displays of rotating Greek pottery was just as gaudy and magnificent as Chris remembered.” However, as descriptive as this is I found the action parts a bit too slowed with descriptions that were a bit excessive.

There were aspects of this futuristic techno-thriller I really enjoyed, there are twists and you want to find out what the bad guys are after, but I didn’t find the premise exciting enough and the characters strong enough to feel enthused about reading a sequel. If you like techno-thrillers about genetics, this one is for you.

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