Cain's Blood

At the top secret Dynamic Solutions Technology Institute (DSTI), Gregory Jacobson studies a gene nicknamed "Cain XP11" for its role in prompting murderous behavior. DSTI's cloning program has produced dozens of teenaged copies of killers like Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy, some of whom have been placed with families outside the laboratory. In an apparent mental breakdown, Jacobson not only encourages a number of DSTI's killers to escape, he informs some of the adoptees about their insidious origins, providing them with chemical weapons derived from the XP11 gene.

Recently retired Delta Force operative Shawn Castillo is recruited to clean up DSTI's mess. A search of Jacobson's house turns up an unexpected surprise: the doctor had adopted his own clone of Jeffrey Dahmer, giving him a relatively normal life as Jeff Jacobson. Castillo brings Jeff along to hunt for the escaped clones, hoping the teenager's connection with his adoptive father will outweigh his liability as a biological copy of an infamous murderer.

Most of Cain's Blood follows Castillo and Jeff as they track the killer clones through the aftermath of their demented road trip. Strongly implied sexual violence and gruesome depictions of murder make this a decidedly mature affair, but debut novelist Geoffrey Girard has also written a YA companion, Project Cain (Simon & Schuster, $17.99), telling this story from young Jeff's perspective. In both cases, Castillo has enough of a history to make him an intriguing character, while Jeff elevates teenage angst to dark new levels. Their uneasy relationship becomes a strong point in both of Girard's novels. --Tobias Mutter, freelance reviewer

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