Aka Elena Edi Giorgi
M.S. – Biostatistics, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angles, California
M.S., Ph.D. – Mathematics and Statistics, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts
Thriller Sub-genre: Crime/Techno-thriller
Future of the series: Giorgi has recently released a Track Presius novella entitled The Black Magnolia, which is available for free only on her website (http://chimerasthebooks.blogspot.com/)
The Simon Review
Author and fellow blogger, Carol Kean, suggested to me awhile back to read E.E. Giorgi’s novel, Chimera, since it is a thriller written by a fellow scientist. I finally got a chance to read it along with the second novel in what is now entitled the Track Presius series. First I want to say THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU to Carol for introducing me to this series because I thoroughly 100% enjoyed it. It has science, a wise-guy character, thrills, humor, murder and mayhem, what more could a girl ask for?
The main character, Track Presius, is a detective for the LAPD who has some unusual traits. When he was a child he was infected by a virus that resulted in epigenetic changes in his DNA that gave him an enhanced sense of smell and hearing not unlike that of a carnivorous predator. These traits make him an excellent investigator but at the same time it often gets him into trouble. Presius identifies people through his sense of smell such as the smell of his love interest, Diane Kyle as being “delicate and melodic like the harmonies of a Bill Evans solo”, or the smell of a murderer as “a foul smell, sour sweet and burnt cilantro”. Though Presius heightened senses makes him a better cop, these differences makes him feel isolated from others.
Though I really like Track Presius, Presius partner Satish Cooper is a hoot and my favorite character. Cooper, whose mother is from India and his father an African American, has the propensity of telling moral antidotes often involving himself as a child and members of his family. The chemistry between Presius and Cooper makes this one of the most enjoyable aspects of this series.
I rate both books in the series a five star, which is something I don’t give out readily. Both books can be read as standalones, but if you read one, you will want to read the other.
Most Favorite Novel in the Series-Mosaics– I love both books in the series, but in Mosaics, Giorgi’s storytelling is only getting better
Least Favorite Novel in the Series-Chimeras- Only by default
What about the science? E.E. Giorgi is a bioinformatician, which means she sits in front of a computer and uses algorithms and mathematics to study how nature works. Giorgi is a great storyteller and weaves the science into her tales quite gracefully, so those that are not science literate will learn something and actually enjoy it.
The Track Presius Technical Word in Review: Antinuclear antibodies– Anyone who suffers from an autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis or systemic lupus erythematosus have heard the term antinuclear antibodies (ANA). Antibodies are proteins that are made by cells from our immune system known as B cells. B cells will produce antibodies to bind to foreign molecules known as antigens that are not normally found in our bodies such as the proteins and other molecules from bacteria, viruses, and pollen. These antibodies bind very specifically to antigens which are then recognized by other cells of the immune system which are responsible in destroying the foreign body. Antibodies are not designed to bind to the molecules that are within our own bodies but sometimes something goes awry and antibodies will start to bind to our own proteins or other molecules, and these antibodies are known as autoantibodies. The immune cells that are designed to destroy and bind to the antibodies that present and will destroy whatever is attached to that antibody, even if that something is our own cells which can then lead to an autoimmune disorder.
Antinuclear antibodies are autoantibodies that bind to molecules found in the nucleus of our cells and were first discovered in 1957 by Eric John Holborow in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus. With this discovery the first diagnostic test specific for autoimmunity was designed which became to be known as the ANA test. The ANA test involves using the patient’s serum which may contain autoantibodies and then incubating the serum with cultured cells. The antibodies will then bind to these cultured cells. The cells are then dried down on a microscope slide which are then subjected to a second antibody, tagged with a fluorescent molecule, which binds specifically to other antibodies. Under a microscope, the area in which the second antibodies have attached will fluoresce brightly indicating the presence of autoantibodies. Not all people with autoantibodies have an autoimmune disease, some will naturally have low concentrations of autoantibodies in the serum which often occurs in the elderly, and this would lead to a false positive test. So physicians often will use the ANA test along with many other tests to determine if a person has an autoimmune disease, which makes diagnosing an autoimmune disease very difficult.
Image from Wikimedia Commons
Watanabe emerged through the darkness of the backlight. His face was yellow and grave and didn’t look too healthy either. He stared at the hole Cohen had dug through my chest and pursed his thin lips.
“Where’s his heart?” he asked.
Cohen craned his head. “I can only see some of it.”
“Makes sense,” Watanabe replied. “His antinuclear antibodies were off the chart. His immune system started attacking his heart until it eventually destroyed it.”– Mosaics
Books in the Series by Order:
Most Favorite in the series: Mosaics with a score of 4.54
Least Favorite in the series: Chimeras with a score of 4.37
Based on overall ratings from Goodreads, Library Thing and Amazon (US & UK)
It was one of those hot summer afternoons, with air made of cobwebs and a glare as sharp as pencils.
Ulysses ‘Track’ Presius: Homicide detective that has an enhanced sense of smell and sight
Satish Cooper: Track’s partner
Doctor Watanabe: Geneticist interested in Track’s condition
Diane Kyle: DNA specialist and love interest for Presius
Jennifer Huxley: Missing person and research scientist
Hortensia: Presius’ lover and friend
Los Angeles, California
Haunted by the girl he couldn’t save in his youth, and the murder he committed to avenge her, Detective Track Presius has a unique gift: the vision and sense of smell of a predator. When a series of apparently unrelated murders reel him into the depths of genetic research, Track feels more than a call to duty. Children are dying, children who, like himself, could have been healthy, and yet something, at some point, went terribly wrong. For Track, saving the innocent becomes a quest for redemption. The only way he can come to terms with his dark past is to understand his true nature.
“Don’t chimeras have two DNA’s?” I asked.
“Genetic chimeras have different DNA’s in different tissues. But not genetic chimera, Ulysses. You’re an epigenetic one.”
Looking for a review of Chimeras? Check out:
Amazon Rating-US: 4.50 out of 5 stars based on 126 ratings
Amazon Rating-UK: 4.83 out of 5 stars based on 6 ratings
GoodReads Rating: 4.16 out of 5 stars based on 148 ratings
Library Thing Rating: 4.20 out of 5 stars based on 5 ratings
Total Score 4.33 (updated 8/15/18)
Listed #447 out of 553 on Goodreads Best Technothriller Ever Book List
Listed #110 out of 168 on Goodreads Best Science Thrillers Book List
Ulysses ‘Track’ Presius, Satish Cooper, Doctor Watanabe, Diane Kyle and Hortensia
Los Angeles, California
Dubbed the Byzantine Strangler because of the mysterious mosaic tiles he leaves at the crime scene, a new serial killer is stalking the streets of Los Angeles. Racing to decipher the code encrypted in the tiles before the killer strikes again, Detective Track Presius faces a new challenge: the “awakened” genes that make his vision and olfactory sense so sharp are now taking a toll on his life. When a new set of tiles appears in his own backyard, Track makes a chilling realization: those very same genes that are threatening his life are drawing the Byzantine Strangler closer and closer. The line between hunter and hunted has suddenly blurred. Will Track be the next piece of the mosaic puzzle?
“Jeez, Hort!” I said what you wanted me to say,” I yelled over the slam of the screen door. “Besides, you told me you don’t do mosaics.”
I heard her pad inside the house, sulking. I shrugged, sipped my wine, and watched the kids zip by on their skateboards.
Truth was, her mosaic looked nothing like a parrot.
Looking for a review of Mosaics? Check out:
Amazon Rating: 4.85 out of 5 stars based on 54 ratings
Amazon Rating-UK: 4.00 out of 5 stars based on 1 ratings
GoodReads Rating: 4.30 out of 5 stars based on 64 ratings
Library Thing Rating: 3.00 out of 5 stars based on 1 rating
Total Score 4.53 (updated 8/15/18)
#2.5-The Black Magnolia- 2016 (A novella)