Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Gene / Stel Pavlou

Reviewed by: BigAl

Genre: Mystery/Thriller/Fantasy

Approximate word count: 110-115,000 words

Kindle US:
YES UK: YES Nook: YES Smashwords: NO Paper: NO
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store


A British author and screenwriter of Anglo-Greek descent, Stel Pavlou has an additional novel, Decipher, available for your Kindle and a short story, The Strange Case of Jared Spoon Who Went to Pieces for Love.

For more, visit his blog. (Do not click on the button that says “do not press this button.” I did immediately upon seeing it and may never recover.)


Gene is published in the UK by Simon & Schuster. Pavlou self-published in North America. I am reviewing based on the self-published US edition.

“Part contemporary, hard-boiled detective story and part historical epic, Gene is a modern myth. A tale of two mortal enemies reincarnated multiple times over the course of 3,000 years. From New York, to Byzantium, from ancient Rome to the palace of Knossos and the Trojan War. Locked in an endless cycle of revenge for an act of war whose victims have long since turned to dust.”


Although published by a major publisher in the UK, Gene “scared off a lot of editors in the US.” After reading it, the reasons are clear. It wasn’t for lack of a good story, nor was it for lack of a good reason. In short, the editors had no idea in which section of the bookstore Gene belonged. If a bookstore can’t shelve a book correctly, they can’t expect to sell it. Pavlou’s solution was to skip both the publisher and the bookstore to give interested readers in the US a chance to find his book on their own.

If forced to boil it down to the essence, I would describe Gene as part police procedural and part fantasy, with elements of mythology, science fiction and history thrown in. There is a mystery to be solved and risk for a main character if it isn’t solved soon, which also makes it a thriller.

I can see how this could scare a reader off. Someone who dislikes any of these genres might feel that Gene isn’t right for them. But if you’re interested in being taken out of your genre-comfort-zone, you might find that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.


Uses UK spelling conventions and slang. Adult language and situations.

Format/Typo Issues:

A small number of typo and proofing errors. Most were instances of separated compound words; “for ever” instead of “forever” was the biggest culprit. These issues might have been introduced during conversion, especially if OCR was used in converting from the UK edition to the US edition I read. I also thought this book could have benefited from a blank line or other indicator of scene changes. There was an indicator present when changing to contemporary time, but not when changing back. I suspect these were present in the original paper book and possibly in the UK Kindle edition published by Simon & Schuster.

Rating: **** Four stars

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