Lisa von Biela may be relatively new to the literary world but she has already proven that she is a master of the medical thriller/horror novel. I had been floored by her debut novel, “The Genesis Code,” and the other books that I have read by her (“Blockbuster,” “The Janus Legacy,” and “Ash and Bone”) have done nothing but put her on the list of my must-read writers. When I got a copy of “Broken Chain,” I knew it had to be good and quickly moved it to the top of my to-be-read list.
A wave of senseless and extreme violence begins to sweep the nation and everyone is at a loss as to what is causing this tidal wave of violence. People that have never raised a hand in anger before become ruthless killers with no notice or instigation. The Center for Disease Control believes that there is something causing the people to act this way and begins to investigate. Since the violence seems to have originated in the Midwest, Dr. Kyle Sommers is sent to a small town in Minnesota that has seen one of these violent attacks and seems to be an epicenter for the violence to try to find the cause of the violent outbreaks.
What Sommers finds is something that no one has ever seen before. Not only is the country being plagued by a wave of violence but livestock is beginning to die in startling numbers and animal products such as eggs, cheese, and milk is spoiling well before its expiration date. When Sommers meets a woman who appears to have aged 40 years in the space of a few months, the pieces begin to fall into place and the answer becomes clear. The problem will be finding some way to find a solution to something that is destroying the very base of the food chain and could lead to the collapse of modern civilization.
While I have enjoyed all of the books that I have read from Lisa von Biela, she seemed to hit her stride in “Broken Chain.” This book has it all and it is very difficult to find any problems with the story. She starts out the novel with some quick action that sets the pace and then never relents as this story just rushes headlong toward disaster. “Broken Chain” is not a horror novel per se but it does have some chapters of pure and violent horror as the wave of violence spreads. This is only a small part of the story, however, and von Biela uses this to break up the novel and increase the intensity of the book rather than fall back on those horrific acts and use them to define the novel. The book is more of a medical thriller with horror elements than a horror story with thriller elements and it is much stronger for that.
And “Broken Chain” is quite the thriller. Almost the perfect thriller. I cannot vouch for the science behind the story but this is the author’s forte and it seemed plausible enough for me so who am I to question it. Von Biela also does a very good job of crafting the story without too much of a bias as is so often the case when a book is centered on environmental or social issues. She simply presents the backdrop for a great thriller and then fleshes it out to its fullest potential. There are a lot of writers out there who work in the medical thriller genre and Lisa von Biela is the best of them. Her books are not necessarily horror but they are scary enough with their real-world feel. I could almost imagine the story being real as I was reading it and that is frightening enough for me. Lisa von Biela is truly the modern master of the medical/scientific thriller and “Broken Chain” is her best book so far and a definite book of the year candidate. I can only hope that she can gain a wider audience in the future as she is clearly a cut above the rest of the pack. At least I can say that I was there for the beginning. If “Broken Chain” is any indication, she is only going to get better.
I would like to thank DarkFuse and NetGalley for this review copy. “Broken Chain” is available now.