The Chosen Seed by Sarah Pinborough Horrible Monday science fiction book reviewsfantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsThe Chosen Seed by Sarah Pinborough

Note: This review contains spoilers for the first two books in the FORGOTTEN GODS trilogy. The review of the first of the books in the trilogy, A Matter of Blood, is here; the review of the second, The Shadow of the Soul, is here.

The first two books of Sarah Pinborough’s FORGOTTEN GODS trilogy opened with one of the members of the shadowy group known as The Bank committing murder most foul — and supernatural — and The Chosen Seed continues that pattern. This time, though, the murders are even more explicitly sacrilegious, for the killer is calling his means of infecting people with an amped-up version of AIDS “the word of your God.” The police know that someone is deliberately infecting random people, but they have little to go on to try to catch him.

Cass Jones is no longer in a position to go after the killer, for he is himself on the run from the police, and has been for months, ever since Mr. Bright framed him for murder. At least Cass has begun to recover from the shot he took to the shoulder, and the weight he lost as a result of the injury has helped disguise him so that he can operate in plain sight. Because Cass still has work to do: he needs to find Luke, his nephew, who was stolen by The Bank at birth. He’s turned for help to people who knows on the wrong side of the law, some of whom still have scores to settle with him, but he has little choice.

Pinborough follows these two threads in alternating chapters, deftly building suspense, and then bringing in yet another, that of Mr. Bright and his attempts to keep control of a growing cadre at The Bank who believe that their own control of the world is growing tenuous. In fact, they’re looking for a way home. By now readers will have figured out who these shadowy men are in the grand scheme of things, and that “home” is not in this world or even this universe. But God seems to have abandoned them just as thoroughly as he seems to have abandoned mankind, and he is not opening the Pearly Gates to anyone, it seems, though the members of The Bank will do whatever it takes to find the way.

Deftly moving from this character to that, balancing the tension among all the different threads, and finally weaving them all into a satisfactory and unexpected conclusion, Pinborough has written a series that keeps readers compulsively turning pages. I especially enjoyed the challenges to religious beliefs, or to the lack of them, that Pinborough poses for her readers; no one, regardless of his or her religious affiliation, can feel entirely comfortable throughout this trilogy, fiction though it may be. Endings are difficult to get right, but Pinborough hits this one right on the nose.

With this trilogy, Pinborough has landed herself on my list of horror writers whose books I will purchase without knowing anything about them except that she wrote them. It’s short list, but she has definitely earned her place on it.

Forgotten Gods — (2010-2012) Publisher: The recession that grips the world has left it exhausted. Crime is rising in every major city. Financial institutions across the world have collapsed, and most governments are now in debt to The Bank, a company created by the world’s wealthiest men. But Detective Inspector Cass Jones has enough on his plate without worrying about the world at large. His marriage is crumbling, he’s haunted by the deeds of his past, and he’s got the high-profile shooting of two schoolboys to solve — not to mention tracking down a serial killer who calls himself the Man of Flies. Then Cass Jones’ personal world is thrown into disarray when his brother shoots his own wife and child before committing suicide — leaving Cass implicated in their deaths. And when he starts seeing silent visions of his dead brother, it’s time for the suspended DI to go on the hunt himself — only to discover that all three cases are linked… As Jones is forced to examine his own family history, three questions keep reappearing: what disturbed his brother so badly in his final few weeks? Who are the shadowy people behind The Bank? And, most importantly, what do they want with DI Cass Jones?

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  • Terry Weyna

    TERRY WEYNA, on our staff since December 2010, would rather be reading than doing almost anything else. She reads all day long as an insurance coverage attorney, and in all her spare time as a reviewer, critic and writer. Terry lives in Northern California with her husband, professor emeritus and writer Fred White, two rambunctious cats, and an enormous library.