When I read Lisa von Biela’s first novel, “The Genesis Code,” last year, I was very impressed and eagerly anticipated a chance to read more of her work. I finally had that chance when I got an advanced review copy of her upcoming novel from DarkFuse, “The Janus Legacy.”
Jeremy Magnusson has not had anything to do with his father for years and is surprised to learn of his inheritance after his father is killed in a plane crash. Now Jeremy must decide if he wants to take over his father’s company, SomaGene, and inherit all of his father’s wealth or if he should turn his back on the company and walk away with nothing. Jeremy has serious ethical questions about SomaGene, which makes custom organs for wealthy customers who can afford to purchase them rather than wait on donor lists for a suitable candidate for transplant, and this was one of the catalysts behind his falling out with his father. Since Jeremy has just broken up with his girlfriend and is searching for direction in his life, he decides to take the inheritance and soon learns that he will never be the same again.
Once Jeremy has settled into his new life, he discovers the dark truth of SomaGene. Jeremy, like his mother, has Crohn’s Disease and the disease is slowly killing him just as it killed his mother. This is the other reason for his estrangement from his father: that his father was too busy working and chasing women to attend to his mother as she wasted away. Jeremy’s father left him a gift of a secret project that just may cure him of the worsening disease and allow him to live a long and normal life. Now Jeremy will have to figure out if the price for this gift is worth paying.
“The Janus Legacy” is not what I would call a classic horror story but I would rather say that it is more of a science fiction novel with a dark side. That is not a criticism at all because, no matter how you define it, this is a very good novel. I was expecting the same frantic pace of “The Genesis Code” and its explosive action and was surprised that this is more of a contemplative novel that is paced perfectly to allow the reader to think about the story. Lisa von Biela spins a tale that writers of medical thrillers, such as Robin Cook, strive for but very rarely achieve.
Lisa von Biela does not really scare me so much as make me worry about the state of the world (even more so since Minnetonka, where the headquarters of SomaGene is located in this novel, is only about 10 miles away from where I live). She has a keen sense of what is going on in the world and the ability to flip the news over to expose the dark underbelly that the popular media is too scared to expose. Unlike much of the fiction that I read, I can almost see the events of “The Janus Legacy” happening in real life and that makes the story all the more disturbing. I liked “The Genesis Code” and was a little worried that Lisa von Biela could be a one-hit wonder. “The Janus Legacy” proved that there should have been no worries on that point. While it may be more of a thriller than the horror story that I was expecting, there is no need to try and force this novel into a specific drama. I can just call it good. Very, very good. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy.
I would like to give a special thank you to DarkFuse and NetGalley for this advanced review copy. “The Janus Legacy” is scheduled for release from DarkFuse in February and is available for pre-order now.