Review: The Killing Gene

I received a reader’s copy of this book from Duckworth Books to participate in their Summer Blog Tour.

Courtesy of Duckworth Books

From the publisher:


“When an archaeologist goes missing in the Congo basin, Professor Randolph Harkness and young tearaway Ross McCartney go in search of her – only to stumble upon a conspiracy to conceal ancient horrors lost to the passage of time. Evading spies and trained killers, can they expose this cover-up? Or will they be buried with it?”


If you asked me to describe E. M. Davey’s newest novel, The Killing Gene, in one phrase, I would say it’s a perfect summer read. This book has everything: science, anthropology, murder, a search for a universal language, world travel (in fact, I read this to fit my readers’ group’s August reading prompt of Travel), a former spy, and assassins!

A lot of reviewers are comparing Davey to Dan Brown, and his work to The DaVinci Code. That comparison seems instinctual (and marketable), but Davey writes with more nuance, clarity, and a grounding in a reality–his background in investigative journalism no doubt shining through–that I think elevates this novel above Brown’s work. Some things happen in The Killing Gene that are pretty bananas, but Davey’s prose is imbued with such realism that you never have to suspend disbelief.

This is a list of various media works that I was reminded of while reading The Killing Gene (so if you like any of these, you should give Davey a try):

  • Arrival
  • The Amazing Race
  • Indiana Jones series
  • Romancing the Stone
  • Into Thin Air 
  • Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (both the Angelina Jolie and Alicia Vikander films)
  • Legends of the Hidden Temple 
  • Threat Level Midnight
  • The Geico Caveman commercials

If you want a fun, adventurous escape of a summer read, The Killing Gene should be right up your alley. If you want a tightly plotted and intelligent thriller, this should scratch that itch, too. And if you want a fascinating exploration of anthropology and linguistics in novel form, this will fit that bill as well. Like I said, it has everything.

Rating: 4 out of 5

The Killing Gene by E. M. Davey is available now.

Fun Fact: the publisher of The Killing Gene, Duckworth Books, was founded in 1898 in England and early authors included Virginia Woolf, D. H. Lawrence, and Anton Chekhov!



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