Review: The Caline Conspiracy by M.H. Mead

title:  The Caline Conspiracy

author: M.H. Mead

pages: 212

format: Kindle

isbn/asin: B007LNNHMW

buy it: Amazon

rating: 5/5 [in the genre] or 8/10 [all books I’ve ever read].

recommended for:  Fans of The Da Vinci Code, Michael Crichton, high-tech thrillers, or soft sci-fi. People looking for a fast-paced, quirky read.

Calines are the perfect pets. Smarter than border collies, playful as otters, elegant as cats, calines have been genetically engineered to be everything a pet owner could want.

Except that they might kill you one day.

The world is shocked when geneticist Ivan Frithke is murdered, and his own pet caline, Madeline, is the prime suspect. Is this an isolated case, a flaw in the calines’ design, or something more? The widow doesn’t believe her darling could kill, and hires PI Aidra Scott to prove Madeline’s innocence.

Aidra wants nothing to do with animals—genetically engineered perfection or not. Losing her beloved Doberman was so painful that she’s sworn off pet ownership forever. But the more she investigates, the more Aidra becomes convinced an innocent animal is being framed, and murder is only the beginning of the conspiracy.

The Caline Conspiracy is a novel of the near future by the author of the critically-acclaimed Good Fences and Fate's Mirror.

the basics
I don't read thrillers a lot, even though I watch crime shows like it's my job.  So this was a nice treat.  It grabbed me from the very beginning.  The near-futuristic world is carefully crafted, filled with little details don't necessarily have huge plot significance, but make the world feel absolutely real.  It's a world I hope to visit again.  Aidra is a snappy, confident heroine with some issues of her own.  I thought the thing with her old dog was a little sappy until the true story came out about why she was so broken up over it--then it all made sense.  The plot is nonstop.  Every time you think you're hitting a breakthrough, Mead throws in another wrench.  It was exciting and beautifully well-written. I look forward to their next work.

plot . 5/5
Breakneck.  You're thrown into the world of private investigation and right away, the action picks up.  There were certain characters that didn't really come full circle, like the spinner (like a tabloid writer) who gets his butt handed to him by Aidra, but it was a fun little scene that shows you a lot about her character.  After that, everything was fluid.  We follow Aidra as she follows leads with the delightfully snarky Morris, gets into trouble with the religious fundamentalists, has a sexy (and surprising) rendezvous with the smooth-talking geneticist Edo.  And then it's a race to the finish.  Some of the plot had the potential to feel deus ex machina, but Mead did a good job of keeping the consequences realistic.  My only snag is at the end, because I feel like the widow's actions would have been different.  But judge for yourself.

concept . 5/5
I was a little iffy at first.  Some huge conspiracy about dogs?  Seemed a little over-the-top.  Yeah, this is the part where I admit that I was being super silly.  This was no campy puppy escapade.  Yes, that's a thing.  The calines, genetically engineered perfect pets, fit perfectly into this futuristic world where technology is paramount.  Humans have used it to shape the world to their every need, from all-in-one data phones to techno-masks that give you a new face and surrounding over video chat to gene therapy that can cure the worst ailments.  It's near-future enough that I could imagine this being our world, and it brings up a lot of issues about how much we should be altering nature, and what the consequences are.

characters . 5/5
Love.  Aidra is a spitfire, but not in your typical brainless foolhardy way.  She may be a little unorthodox, but she's got a good head on her shoulders.  I was able to relate to her instantly.  The supporting cast is fantastic.  Morris, the tech-nerd, is hysterically suave.  Edo is instantly dreamy.  Quinn is clever and adds a lot to the genetics questions.  Baxter has a sleek charm to him that screams businessman.  You don't get to know everything about everyone (for instance, we still know very little about Morris) but you feel like they're real people out there somewhere.

style . 5/5
The style is extremely high quality.  I could see this being something run out of the Big Six.  Mead writes in a concise, snappy way that provides enough detail without harping on it.  There's a sarcastic edge that makes it extremely funny at points, poignant at others.  The snappiness of the tone is perfect for a book populated with techno-terms.  Also, I'll say, I'm not big on sexy scenes but the one in this book was very tasteful.

mechanics . 5/5
Beautifully polished.  Mead clearly went the extra mile to make a professional product.

take home message
A breakneck thriller that mixes technology, murder, and man's best friend to make for a unique and compelling story.

Note: I received this copy free from the authors in exchange for a review.  The price of the book and its origin in no way affected my stated opinions.

1 comment:

  1. If you want to know more about Morris, you should read Fate's Mirror. He is the main character of that book, also by M.H. Mead.