Cover image for Crime zero : a novel
Crime zero : a novel
Cordy, Michael.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : W. Morrow, [1999]

Physical Description:
viii, 414 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


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X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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What would happen to society and to the balance of power in the battle between the sexes if the genes that code for violent behavior in men could be isolated and then modified? Crime Zero is a novel that is sure to alarm readers with the sort of frightening plausibility that sent The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood onto the bestseller lists.

It is the year 2008 and crime has become epidemic around the globe, nowhere more so than in the United States, where a group of scientists has taken matters into their own hands to offer what they see as a cure. Under the guise of Project Conscience, a rehabilitation scheme for offenders to modify their genes, a more sinister agenda is at work, one that will change the statistics finally and irrevocably.

For Luke Decker, FBI forensic psychologist, the move toward a genetic solution is fraught with danger. Unaware of the secret plan, he resolves to counter any developments with his own conclusions. But he is also unaware of a secret that is much closer to home and that constitutes a far greater risk to his safety and sanity than anything the geneticists can come up with. Unwittingly, he too will become a casualty when Crime Zero reaches its logical conclusion.

Provocative, plausible, prophetic, and deeply disturbing, Crime Zero is an incendiary bomb of a novel sure to incite controversy.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The scientific project Crime Zero was dreamed up by Alice Prince, scientist-founder of the third-largest biotech company in 2008, whose longtime supporters include Madeline Naylor, first female FBI director, and Pamela Weiss, soon to be the first female president. The project's animating idea is that, since men commit most violent crimes, the world would be vastly improved if the 17 aggressive male genes were removed or reprogrammed. Prince has worked out most of the needed methods, aided by brilliant but naive young Kathy Kerr. Unbeknownst to Kathy, government scientists have been working secretly with her ideas and have proved their validity before she has even obtained FDA approval for her work. Unfortunately, the secret workers have unknowingly produced a lethal product. Cordy's novel is beautifully and dramatically constructed, balancing a variety of subplots and understandable but complex personalities in a spellbinding story. How spellbinding? Well, when a novelist makes globally spreading smallpox seem a good thing, not just scientifically but also for the sake of the plot, he is a real wizard. --William Beatty

Publisher's Weekly Review

In his second novel, Cordy revisits the genetics motif of his notable debut, The Miracle Strain, this time envisioning a chilling near future when a steely female FBI director and her sycophant virologist plot to alter human biogenetics and create a crime-free, female Utopia. In the year 2008, forensic psychologist Luke Decker, director of the behavioral sciences division of the FBI academy at Quantico, is at odds with his boss, FBI director Madeline Naylor, who believes criminals are genetically predetermined, not shaped by social conditioning. Decker is surprised to discover that his former lover, the brilliant geneticist Dr. Kathy Kerr, is now working for a California biotech lab. In collaboration with Naylor and her worshipful accomplice, Dr. Alice Prince, Kerr is conducting super-secret research to alter the genomes of males in hopes of curtailing their inborn violent tendencies. When Kerr is told that her theories have been implemented already, in a covert study in which prisoners were subjected to a lethal early strain of her genetic magic bullet, she realizes she's being used. Although the furtive trial caused many prisoners' deaths, it has also drastically reduced violent crime in L.A. for close to a decade. Asked to endorse the illegal study to swing the upcoming election in favor of the first female presidential candidate, Kerr refuses to join in the coverup and is marked for death. Meanwhile, Decker visits San Quentin, where a condemned serial killer gives him some very bad news. Kerr, now romantically reunited with Decker, confirms this frightening fact with DNA testing, and suspense heightens with the worldwide dissemination of a doomsday virus. Showing more twists than a spiraling double-helix of human DNA, the plot has rough edges and loose ends, but these are minor inconsistencies in Cordy's futuristic and timely gender-bender. Agent, David Chalfont. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Genetics figured in Cordy's debut, The Miracle Strain, so it's hardly surprising to see it surface again here. In the near-future, scientists have found a way to isolate the genes that cause violent behavior in men, and a project to alter the genetic makeup of serious offenders is underway. Then FBI forensics specialist Luke Decker discovers that the men behind the project are up to no good. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Crime Zero A Novel Chapter One His head aches, and he wants to go home, but he still waits in the cemetery under cover of the short fir tree. The damp bark smells as strong as any perfume. It is 1:57 A.m. The two San Francisco Police Department officers left an hour ago. After three days of staking out the area, they and their replacements have been recalled to follow up other leads. The police say they will return in the morning, but he knows they have lost the faith. Fourteen-year-old Tammy Lewis is missing, and they are concerned she will end up like the other three. Special Agent Luke Decker should leave too; he has only adviser status here, and other cases are piling up on his desk at Quantico. But Decker can't go yet. He knows deep in his gut that the killer will return here at night and bring the girl with himperhaps even alive. The night air is cool on his face, and above him through the branches of the fir a crescent moon gazes down. Seventeen miles from San Francisco and nine miles from Oakland, the Gates of Heaven Catholic Cemetery is still. Nothing moves, and even nearby Interstate 80 is silent. He retrieves a pair of night vision glasses from his coat and rereads the inscription on the headstone twenty yards away: Sally Anne Jennings Taken August 3, 2008 Aged 15 years You were taken from us too soon. But we shall meet again in a better place. Decker grinds his jaw, remembering the crime scene photos of Sally Anne's violated body. The killer's most recent victim must also be his last. Car tires on gravel break the silence. He turns to his right and sees a Domino's pizza van pull into the cemetery's deserted parking lot. Sweat breaks out on his forehead. Decker knows the psychological profile of the killer because he wrote it. And the pizza van fits. His heart is beating fast now, but he feels no triumph about being right again, no excitement of the chase, just weary sorrow and a vague disquiet that he should know the mind of a killer so well. A sudden scream from the van rips through the night. It is short and quickly muffled, but Decker crumples inside, feeling her pain and terror himself He reaches for his cell phone and calls the incident number. He whispers urgently that the suspect is here. He needs backup. A sleepy detective snaps awake. "Two squad cars will be there in ten minutes-- max," he promises. The van's rear doors open, and a muscular young man with red hair and a black T-shirt drags something white out of the back and drops it on the gravel. Decker realizes then that ten minutes will not be soon enough. The silent white bundle is moving, and even before he puts the night vision glasses to his eyes, Decker knows it's a naked girl. Tammy Lewis is gagged and bound, her eyes round with terror The young man is strong because he easily lifts her over his shoulder and carries her toward the cemetery. Decker reaches for his gun and releases the safety. He has won the FBI shooting competition at Quantico with the SIG semiautomatic every year for the last five years. But he dislikes using the gun for real. It means he's failed. But he has no choice now. If he does nothing, the man will carry Tammy Lewis to Sally Anne's grave, where he will lay her down, torture, and rape her Then, when he is satisfied, he will kill her and defile her body. Decker knows this with a gut-wrenching certainty as absolutely as if he'd already witnessed the crime. He waits for the man to lay Tammy down on the grave and start to untie her ankles before coming up behind him. Decker is ten feet away when he sees a knife flash in the man's hand. "FBI," he shouts. His voice sounds alien in the stillness of the night. "Drop the knife, put your hands up, and back away from her" Crouching over his victim, the red-haired man looks over his shoulder, his long face surprised and uncertain. He hesitates. "Now," orders Decker But the man doesn't drop the knife. He turns and raises it high into the air The curved blade mirrors the white sickle of the moon as a bellow of rage cuts through the darkness. Then in one furious movement he brings it scything down toward the girl with the force of a guillotine.... "The defense calls Dr. Kathryn Kerr." It was her name that jolted Luke Decker from the events in the graveyard nine weeks ago and back to the warm,' stuffy chamber of the San Francisco Court of Appeals. Above the judge's bench the clock showed 10:07 A.M., and the calendar below it the date: Wednesday, October 29, 2008. The hushed oak-paneled courtroom carried every sound, but when the woman's name was called, Decker couldn't believe he'd heard it right. What the hell was Kathy Kerr doing here? Reorienting himself, Decker blinked his green eyes and ran a hand through his cropped blond hair. Shifting in his chair, he looked around the paneled court. The judge, a bald man with a permanent pained frown, sat at the front of the chamber with both the prosecution and defense teams arranged facing him on either side. Decker sat with the prosecution behind the district attorney. This wasn't a full trial, and there were few people in the public gallery behind him, except some junior press. No relatives of the dead girls had come, but Decker gained some satisfaction from noting that Tammy Lewis's family wouldn't have been among them. At least she had been saved. Turning to his right, the first person he noticed was... Crime Zero A Novel . Copyright © by Michael Cordy. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Crime Zero: A Novel by Michael Cordy All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.