A filmmaker turns sleuth again, rushing recklessly into the cutthroat, and loopy, skincare industry. Shy scientist Rod Glaser hires Bill Damien to create an "image piece" for Algoplex, his skincare company. Rod and Mike Riley, his hearty partner, are on the verge of a merger with industry veteran Plush Biologics, a move promising big profits but not smooth sailing for the easygoing partners. Case in point: Bill’s Algoplex shoot goes terribly wrong when Rod’s muse, a soulful free spirit named Alissa, blows off the gig, and Rob, unable to reach her by phone, falls apart. So Bill agrees to look for her, first by breaking into her empty apartment. Alissa’s trashy mother Wendy, who tries to impersonate her daughter at a high-profile Algoplex event, claims unconvincingly that Alissa is just taking a little vacation. Meanwhile, Bill learns that Alissa works for an escort service called Silicon Glamour. Though Rod sheepishly claims their relationship is strictly platonic, some incriminating pictures indicate otherwise. So does the knife Bill soon finds protruding from Rod’s body. As in his debut caper (Knockout Mouse, 2002), Bill is drawn into the case by a combination of duty and empathy. There’s no shortage of suspects, and Bill finds dysfunctional corporate families at both Silicon Glamour and Plush Biologics. But the mystery of absent Alissa looms over all. Calder draws sharp, entertaining suspect portraits, and Bill’s amiable first-person narration never slackens its pace.
"This fast-paced debut thriller offers fascinating details about the biotechnology industry along with likeable good guys, nasty villains, a well-developed sense of place, a little romance, and plenty of plot twists." -Booklist
"Breezy first-person narrative and an abundance of banter add up to a quick, entertaining read and a solid series kickoff." -Kirkus
"James Calder"s series is sure to be a knockout. It's smart, savvy, and right in step with next week's news." -Toronto Now
"James Calder follows the determined Bill though state-of-the-art genetics labs and agricultural research departments led by brilliant, ambitious scientists willing to do anything to get to the top in his well-researched and timely debut." -Publishers Weekly
"That rare thing: a really intelligent mystery novel." -Philip Kerr, author of The Berlin Trilogy
"Knockout Mouse is a twisty, compelling mystery that will keep you racing through the pages. Amateur sleuth Bill Damen is a hero to root for - and James Calder is a writer to watch." -Tess Gerritsen, author of The Apprentice
"The backdrop is one of science bowing to the profit motive; the murder might have been engineered by Faust himself. Utterly original and engrossing, Knockout Mouse is at once a mystery and a cautionary tale about what can happen when the wrong people try to play God." -Ted Conover, author of Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing