LINDA GRANT – Lethal Genes. Cat Saylor #5. Scribner, hardcover, 1996. Ivy, paperback, 1997.

   With her four previous books Grant has become one of my favorite female authors. She isn’t a glib as Grafton, or as intense and angst-ful as Paretsky, or as focused on relationships as Muller, but her stories have substance and well-developed characters, and are very well written. Her business-world settings are a refreshing change, too.

   San Francisco Pl Catherine Saylor steps into a new world when she takes a case involving a biotech lab at the University of California. Someone is sabotaging experiments in cutting-edge dot com gene research, and no one there can figure out why, much less who.

   Cat finds a fair amount of academic jealousy, and some pretty lax security procedures, but the culprit and a motive prove more elusive. Then someone dies, and someone else is killed, and the com patch becomes a deadly place.

   My only cavil first off: the villain as eventually revealed wasn’t totally convincing to me, because I didn’t think the character and motivation were nearly well-enough established. That out of the way, I thought  this was Grant’s usual excellent job. She focuses more on the crime and less on the personal life of the protagonist than do most of the female, authors, which is at all to say that Saylor is not a well-drawn and engaging character — she is. Grant’s first-person narration is smooth and paced nicely, and her prose straightforward. She remains one of my favorites.

— Reprinted from Ah Sweet Mysteries #26, July 1996.


      The Catherine Sayler series

1. Random Access Murder (1988)
2. Blind Trust (1990)
3. Love Nor Money (1991)
4. A Woman’s Place (1994)
5. Lethal Genes (1996)
6. Vampire Bytes (1998)