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Origin by J.T. Brannan

For millennia it has lain there undiscovered. Now the time has come…

Research scientist Evelyn Edwards always knew the Antarctic held deep secrets but the discovery of a 40,000 year old body buried under the ice caps surpasses even her wildest expectations. But just as her team begins extracting the body the dream turns into a horrific nightmare as they are targeted for death by someone who wants to keep this secret buried. Evelyn barely escapes with her life…

On the run, alone and desperate, she turns to her ex-husband Matt Adams, a former member of an elite government unit, for help. Soon, they find themselves caught up in a frantic race against time, which takes them from Area 51 to the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, as they try to uncover the biggest conspiracy of all time before it’s too late for everyone…

If mankind thought it knew its origins, the time has come to think again because its every belief is about to be challenged…

I enjoy including the occasional thriller in my reading, especially when I’m looking for a break from fantasy or horror. There are a couple of things that make an effective thriller for me. The narrative should have a fast pace as well as an intriguing premise that you can engage with. Finally, you should be able to jump straight into the action and don’t need to over think things too much.

Evelyn Edwards and Matt Adams are a good team. She has all the smarts, and he is a skilled tracker due to his native American heritage. The only thing I wasn’t sure about was the speed at which Matt manages to overcome his inner demons. There is quite a lot made of the fact that he has suffered greatly since the failure of his marriage, yet he seems to bounce back from this incredibly quickly. It’s a minor quibble I suppose, but it just struck me as a bit odd that he goes from worn-out shell to almost unstoppable tracker with skills bordering on the supernatural so quickly.

Brannan does successfully blend together a number of well-known conspiracy theories into his tale and they all fit together quite well. Everything from the notoriously secretive Bilderberg Group to the missing evolutionary missing link and true purpose behind Area 51 are all included in one form or another.

One of the things that appear to be the hallmark of many modern thrillers is the manipulation of science fact into something more resembling science fiction. Origin definitely contains elements of this phenomenon, personally I’m a fan of this approach. It’s fun to see genre mash-ups of this type occurring. The breakneck action in a thriller tends to lend itself well to science fiction, they’re a near perfect match.

Sometimes you need a story that is all about the thrill of the chase and doesn’t take itself too seriously, Origin delivers on this promise. The plot zips along at a fair rate of knots, and there are some great set pieces that keep the attention from flagging; a particularly thrilling chase scene involving a horse springs to mind. This story offers the kind of edge of your seat escapism that’s always great fun to read.

The novel’s final chapters veer off into full-on science fiction and I have to admit that this got my attention. I’m curious if there will be another novel featuring these characters, as things where left with the mother of all cliffhangers.

If you’ve ever read any novels by Steve Alten, Matthew Reilly or Scott Mariani, then you’ll likely as not enjoy Brannan’s work. His first novel is a lot of fun and very easy to lose yourself in.

Origin is published by Headline and available now.


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