The Ripper Gene by Michael Ransom

Dr. Lucas Madden discovered what makes serial killers tick. Something abnormal in their physical make-up, a genetic mutation makes them different from the average person who doesn’t think of murder all day long. He called it “The Ripper Gene”

He can accurately predict psychopaths’ behavior without the need for psychological profiling with a simple DNA sequencing.

This is the premise of Michael Ransom’s debut novel, The Ripper Gene, a medical thriller focused on settling once and for all the ongoing nature vs. nurture debate.

Lucas Madden, a neuroscientist, is now working as a criminal profiler with the FBI and he is obsessed with the DNA of serial killers.

His mother was brutally murdered when he was a small boy and her killer was never found. Growing up he became obsessed with serial killers. It bothered him to no end that his mom’s murder was never solved. For anyone who knew him, the path his life took was not a major surprise.

The latest case he is called to assist on involves several murdered women who have a common trait: they are all found with cryptic letters written on their foreheads in blood. FBI knows this is the work of one twisted serial killer dubbed the Snow White Killer and asks Lucas for his help.

While the hunt for the killer is on, for Lucas it gets personal when his ex-fiance disappears. Then more young women are found dead, holding in their hands apples with razor blades inside – surprise! – in the same county in which his mom was also murdered so many years ago.

For some sinister reason it seems that the Snow White Killer has focused on Lucas, targeting those close to him.

The book starts a bit slow, but as the story progresses, it picks up the pace quite nicely. Madden has not only the job to find the killer, but also to decipher the puzzle of the writing on the victims’ foreheads before it’s too late.

The author’s biography reads: “Dr. Michael Ransom is a molecular pharmacologist and a recognized expert in the fields of pharmacogenetics and toxicogenomics”. It comes to no surprise that he knows as much as he does on the topic of genes and DNA. Writers always have to do tons of research for their books, but when one actually walks the talk, the book will truly reflects that.

I was also not surprised to learn that the author grew up in rural Mississippi. The descriptions in the novel give a strong sense of atmosphere of the south where the story takes place. The scenery described in the book makes you feel you are there while the things are happening, both in the past when Lucas’ mother was killed and in the present when he is working on solving the new murders.

I was quite surprised to learn that this a debut novel for Michael Ransom. I enjoyed the writing and engaging style and I’m hoping to see more from him soon.

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