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The Ripper Gene

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Silver Falchion Award for Best Horror (2016) and Silver Falchion Judges Choice Award for Best Serial Killer Mystery (2016)

Nominee for Silver Falchion Best Fiction Adult Book, Best Fiction First Novel, Best Mystery-Crime and Best Thriller (2016)

A neuroscientist-turned-FBI-profiler discovers a gene that produces psychopaths in this thrilling debut novel.

Dr. Lucas Madden is a neuroscientist-turned-FBI profiler who first gained global recognition for cloning the ripper gene and showing its dysfunction in the brains of psychopaths. Later, as an FBI profiler, Madden achieved further notoriety by sequencing the DNA of the world’s most notorious serial killers and proposing a controversial “damnation algorithm” that could predict serial killer behavior using DNA alone.

Now, a new murderer—the Snow White Killer—is terrorizing women in the Mississippi Delta. When Mara Bliss, Madden’s former fiancée, is kidnapped, he must track down a killer who is always two steps ahead of him. Only by entering the killer’s mind will Madden ultimately understand the twisted and terrifying rationale behind the murders—and have a chance at ending the psychopath’s reign of terror.

303 pages, Hardcover

First published August 18, 2015

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About the author

Michael Ransom

15 books41 followers
MICHAEL RANSOM is an American author and poet (b. 1968) originally raised in rural Mississippi who now makes his home in northern New Jersey. He is a molecular pharmacologist and a recognized expert in the fields of pharmacogenetics and toxicogenomics. He is widely published in scientific journals and has edited multiple textbooks in biomedical research. He is currently a pharmaceutical scientist and an adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

The Ripper Gene is his first novel.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 82 reviews
Profile Image for Brenda.
725 reviews150 followers
October 16, 2016
I started reading this at bedtime. In the morning, I was thinking about what I'd read and basically talked myself into not finishing this book. Here's why.

The writing is amateurish. One example, "Young Anna Cross had been holding the ultimate symbol of Halloween in her hand when she died." I'm thinking pumpkin? But, no, the author thinks the ultimate symbol of Halloween is an apple with a razor blade in it.

At the crime scene, the FBI agent was angry that a deputy had picked up an apple he found a few feet away from the body, even though it had been bagged. Later in the forensics lab, this same FBI agent learns that the bloody letter A on the victim's forehead had not been swabbed. And the morgue has already cleaned the body. Why is he not hopping mad now? The head of the lab says the CSIs didn't swab that area. "Maybe they just forgot." Hey, if they don't care, I don't care.

A meeting takes place between the FBI agent and the head of the Behavioral Analysis Unit during which the agent lies to his boss and receives a dressing down. And we learn about a previous case where the agent failed. Yet this agent is a scientist who's developed an algorithm that might predict future serial killers, holds a seminar at the FBI Academy at Quantico, and is considered a good profiler.

So I've reached the point where I've had enough of the inconsistencies.
Profile Image for Kate.
1,626 reviews322 followers
January 3, 2018
Really enjoyed this - a serial killer hunt with an intriguing premise and twist. It's very well-written, extremely hard to put down and full of confidence - quite an achievement for a debut novel. 4-4.5 stars.

Profile Image for M.J..
Author 76 books2,109 followers
November 14, 2015
A thinking person's thriller. Well done - very clever.
Profile Image for Terry.
334 reviews71 followers
December 3, 2017
First off, thank you to the author for making this book available in a Goodreads giveaway! I appreciate the opportunity and I enjoyed reading it. I would say my overall rating would be somewhere between 3.5 and 4.0 stars, rounded up to 4. I liked the characters, and the mystery was good all the way up to the end. I enjoyed making my guesses and ultimately coming up wrong. The science that was discussed I found to be interesting as well, although I think I would have liked a little more background and discussion on it. In any case, an enjoyable read.
Profile Image for Samantha Kilford.
176 reviews79 followers
June 6, 2015
Big thanks to Macmillan Tor/Forge and NetGalley for the ARC of Michael Ransom's thrilling debut novel, The Ripper Gene.

As always it's lovely when a book pleasantly surprises you and you end up loving it way more than you had anticipated. That's exactly what happened with The Ripper Gene.

I've been taking more risks when it comes to books recently and have been trying to venture out into different genres. That's not to say that I won't be reading YA romance anymore because I definitely will, but I need more books like The Ripper Gene in my life. Crime and murder is a genre that, to me, can be a bit of a hit and miss, but this novel was a hundred percent more of the former.

I completely devoured it in the space of two days. It was so compelling that I could not physically put it down and that's what you want when it comes to crime thriller novels. I was gripped, sitting on the edge of my seat clutching my phone as I read on and on desperate to find out who the Snow White Killer was.

As with any good murder thriller book, everyone seems suspicious. Yes, The Ripper Gene even has you suspicious of the main character, Lucas, at one point! While I made stabs in the dark at who I thought was slashing up the bodies of the poor, innocent females, I didn't guess correctly. However, I wasn't disappointed in who the killer really was. That was definitely a surprising twist!

What I loved about The Ripper Gene was how well thought out it was. Michael Ransom, I take my hat off to you! It's such an ingenious story. From the whole aspect of the Snow White Killer and his methods, which I thought were insanely clever, to the reveal, there was never a dull moment. The way all the little details tie together is fantastic.

It's extremely hard to talk about this novel without spoiling anything for anyone who's potentially interested in reading it. So, if you are, go and get yourself a copy. The Ripper Gene is published on August 18th. You won't regret it.
Profile Image for Patty.
270 reviews82 followers
January 18, 2016
Nature vs Nurture. Are some people born bad regardless of their environment? Can science predict who will murder people? Can great parents who nurture their children extremely well prevent a child from becoming a murderer?

Dr. Lucas Madden is a neuroscientist who becomes a criminal profiler. He has done extensive studies in DNA profiling and has discovered a strand of DNA that can identify a potential killer called the Ripper Gene.

In the beginning of the book Lucas takes us back to his childhood when he mother was murdered. The killer of his mother was never found, and of course that haunts him, perhaps this is what lead him to his chosen profession.

As a criminal profiler for the FBI he begins to profile the murder of a string of women who are left with words written on the foreheads. Through the course of his investigating even he himself is thought to be the killer.

I thought this book was excellent. This is this authors first novel. I will be reading his next book. I find the study of psychology and specifically psychopathic behavior extremely interesting. Why do people do what they do? One negative: the artwork for the cover of this novel; it looks juvenile and doesn't fit with the more in depth writing and obvious intelligence of the subject matter.
Profile Image for Melliane.
2,013 reviews340 followers
November 23, 2015
Mon avis en Français

My English review

It’s been awhile since I had not read a good thriller story and I confess that the DNA sequencing for serial killer was really attracting. I do not really know Michael Ranson but I’m curious now to discover more of his writings.

The prologue of the book shows us a piece of the past of Lucas Madden, FBI Profiler today. Indeed, the author narrates the story of his mother’s death, a murder which was also unsolved. We then find him in the present, trying to manage a new case, that of a serial killer who seems strangely interested in our hero. I admit that it took me some time to get into the story. The events were initially a bit slow to implement and I wondered if it would change at a time, but this is ultimately the case after a good part of the story. It is true that once everything starts up, I was caught by the survey and the answers we are looking to find. It was hard to really understand killer, why he was doing these scenes and why he was always targeting women. The answers will come in due time but it is true that as the main character, we doubt with him about his family and we wonder who is really in charge (which was a real surprise for me in the end and I think it will be that for you too).

In addition to this survey, the story is also based on the DNA sequencing and shows that it is now possible to determine whether a person has a gene corresponding to those of a killer or not. Of course, none of this is really 100% sure but it was interesting to see how it worked and what the investigators really did. At the same time, although the idea is interesting, I found that it could pose some problems too … Yes, the fact of putting people in boxes, to make them believe they can not finally escape their genetic code. This is something that can easily deviate and I think the author wanted to show this also, that if you believe something to be born by then it is difficult to choose not to succumb.

In any case, I really found it was an intriguing and interesting history. I enjoyed the ideas of the author and I finally had a great time with this novel. If you are looking for a good thriller, you should try this one.
Profile Image for Cobwebby Eldritch Reading Reindeer .
5,070 reviews264 followers
September 14, 2016
Review: THE RIPPER GENE by Michael Ransom

Let me tell you how perfect is this debut mystery/thriller: due to eyesight, I read digital books almost exclusively; but I raced through an advance print copy of THE RIPPER GENE, literally page-turning, in just a few hours--it is SO engrossing. The prologue--reader's hook just ripped my heart out--and that premise throbbed throughout the story. The protagonist, Dr. Lucas Madden, FBI criminal profiler, former neuroscientist, is a relatable character who has had a painful and difficult life. The new mystery in which he becomes involved overlaps with his life from a few years ago, with his family, and overlays and highlights the tragedy which warped his childhood. This is a "I can't take a deep breath till it's done and then I still can't stop thinking about it" novel. Can't wait for the author's next!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Kim.
1,998 reviews50 followers
August 18, 2015
I can see Michael Ransom is going to join my list of favourite authors after a stunning debut novel.

A real page turner following a FBI profiler who used to be a neuroscientist. He discovered the ‘Ripper Gene’ which makes people into psychopaths and research in DNA that could predict their behaviour.

Really chilling scenes have you biting your nails on the edge of your seat. Can Madden catch the new serial killer and can we guess who is responsible? Twists, turns and suspicions keep the interest at high level.

The characters are extremely well drawn and storyline keeps a fast pace. I loved it.

With many thanks to the publisher and Net Galley for a copy of this book.
Profile Image for Caryn.
828 reviews64 followers
September 24, 2015
3.5. Definitely liked how the book started with action and didn't let go until the conclusion. I enjoyed the scientific aspect of this novel as well. I'm sure there'll be more great books to come from Michael Ransom.
Profile Image for Anthony.
23 reviews10 followers
September 14, 2015
Definitely an intense/suspenseful read that had me wanting to read more and more. I was hooked from the first chapter.
Profile Image for Kate.
606 reviews516 followers
October 25, 2015

Today is my stop on The Ripper Gene blog tour! I'm so excited to be a part of this as I really enjoyed this book!

About the Author:

MICHAEL RANSOM is a molecular pharmacologist and a recognized expert in the fields of toxicogenomics and pharmacogenetics. He is widely published in scientific journals and has edited multiple textbooks in biomedical research. He is currently a pharmaceutical executive and an adjunct professor in the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Raised in rural Mississippi, he now makes his home in northern New Jersey. The Ripper Gene is his first novel.

Many thanks to Sarah at Smith Publicity and the author for my copy of The Ripper Gene in exchange for an honest review.

About the book:

Does your DNA influence your ability to choose between good and evil?

The tenuous link between complex genetics and violent, antisocial behavior is the controversial scientific premise explored in Michael Ransom's debut novel The Ripper Gene.

In The Ripper Gene, Ransom takes readers into a serial killer investigation led by main character Dr. Lucas Madden, a neuroscientist-turned-FBI profiler who lost his own mother in a brutal, unsolved cold case from his childhood. As a young graduate student, Madden analyzed DNA samples from some of the most notorious serial killers in history, and unearthed a gene linked to abnormal brain function in psychopaths… which he named the RIPPER gene. Later, after becoming an FBI profiler, Madden makes even more headlines by developing a controversial genetic test that can predict a serial killer’s behavior using DNA alone.
Madden’s latest case -- taking him deep into the bayous of the Mississippi gulf coast and the parishes surrounding the FBI field office in New Orleans -- hits too close to home, when his ex-fiancé disappears and young women victims clutching razor-laden apples begin turning up in the same county in which his mother was murdered, in an apple orchard on Halloween night many years ago. A ruthless new murderer, dubbed the Snow White Killer, is terrorizing young women in the area, and Madden finds himself in a race against the clock to protect the people he loves the most and end this reign of terror.

My thoughts:

I really liked this book! I didn't know what to expect when I started reading even though I'd read the press release and the synopsis.

Lucas Madden is an FBI profiler who made a name for himself as a neuroscientist isolating the so called Ripper gene in serial killers. Working out of the New Orleans field office, Madden is called to investigate a series of murders in which the female victims are left holding an apple with a razor blade inside.

It seems very coincidental to Madden as his own mother was brutally murdered when he was young and the killer was never found. Dubbed The Snow White Killer (SWK), he killer starts to terrorise those closest to Madden. What ensues, is a high octane chase to find out who the killer is and why he's targeting Madden.

I loved Lucas. I've read so many police/crime novels, and rarely I come upon a main character that I like immediately. Something about him makes you want to get to know him, which you do once the story gets into its stride. He's paired up with Agent Woodson for the investigation, and she compliments his character perfectly. Together, they make a great team.

The premise for this book, coupled with Michael Ransom's knowledge and expertise in the area of molecular biology, is extremely interesting. I mean, who wouldn't want to know if they possess the serial killer Ripper gene!!! I know I would!!

About 3/4 of the way through the book, knowing I was nearing the end, I actually slowed down. I didn't want the story to end! This rarely happens to me with books. There are so many different plot twists in The Ripper Gene, some of which I guessed, but the other big twists, I got completely wrong! :)

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. The scientific subject matter, coupled with the dark and twisted storyline make for an engaging, thrilling read! I am so glad I have read this, and to be honest, I would read any book with Lucas Madden in it in the future!

Something I didn't mention at the beginning of this review, is that The Ripper Gene is a debut novel for Michael Ransom. A FRICKIN DEBUT!!!! To write this well, and to create such an intricately plotted book as a debut is astounding! I for one am hoping to see plenty more from Ransom in the future!

I gave The Ripper Gene 4 ⭐️ on Goodreads, I thoroughly enjoyed it! :)

Happy reading!
Profile Image for Pat.
2,310 reviews394 followers
August 27, 2016
This was a clever book. I believe there's been some speculation/research about the existence or otherwise of a genetic basis for psychopathy and the book certainly addressed that, well, cleverly.

A series of murders in rapid succession, with victims very precisely posed, mystifies police and the FBI. Dr Lucas Madden, who pioneered the work into the ripper gene before he chucked it all in to work as a profiler for the FBI, is on the case too. The victims all have letters written in blood on their foreheads. At first it makes no sense as the message appears to be a childish puzzle but finally Madden cracks the much more sinister meaning behind the letters. This coincides with the realisation that the killings are somehow linked to or targeting him. Danger, danger.

I thought this was a thriller that was a bit more intelligent than average and I enjoyed it immensely.
Profile Image for Melissa.
487 reviews
February 6, 2017
Lucas lost his mother to murder when he was young. He is now an FBI agent who tracks down serial killers. He is also not on good terms with his father and brother. His mother's killer was never found, but a new serial killer in town, The Snow White Killer (SWK), may have the answers Lucas needs. The concept of this novel was very interesting. Lucas has found a DNA abnormality that may show who is predestined to be a serial killer. The Ripper Gene is what he has called it. There is a cliched romance though. Main character fells in love with female agent who is assigned to work with him. There was a romantic moment, but is was very low key. The only issue I had with the book was the use of so many big words that aren't used in everyday conversation. I had to look up many words to see what they meant and that takes away from the whole reading experience.
Profile Image for Jennifer B.
3 reviews1 follower
July 14, 2015
In Michael Ransom's debut novel opening, I couldn't help but feel as if I was in the car with Lucas and his mother driving through and isolated road in rural Mississippi. Ransom's description of the deep South allowed me to fully envelope myself in the entire story, with his detailed description of atmosphere, the "feel" of the south including the scenery and of course, southern drawl. I was sold after the Prologue!. And the rest of the book did not disappoint! I have read other first time authors' books and as a first time fiction writer, Ransom's storyline flowed beautifully throughout the book. BEST PART: He had me fooled to the end! I loved it and am looking forward to his next piece....
Profile Image for Debbie Carnes.
238 reviews147 followers
December 6, 2016
Loved The Ripper Gene, from the first page you are hooked.
Madden the main character is well written , smart and all around likeable .
This is a must read , suspenseful thriller
Profile Image for Donna Maguire.
4,331 reviews102 followers
April 1, 2016

A few weeks ago I was contacted regarding the possibility of a book review, I read the summary of the book and was instantly intrigued and wanted to know more. Anyone who follows me on Goodreads, Facebook or the Blog will know, I am a massive crime fan and I love and thoroughly enjoy these books with a twist, and especially those with serial killers. My latest review is on the amazing new book 'The Ripper Gene' by Michael Ransom.

About The Ripper Gene: A neuroscientist-turned-FBI-profiler discovers a genetic signature that produces psychopaths in The Ripper Gene, a thrilling debut novel from Michael Ransom.

In summary this book was gripping from the moment that I started it – the main character is Dr. Lucas Madden, a neuroscientist-turned-FBI profiler who first gained global recognition for cloning the ripper gene and showing its dysfunction in the brains of psychopaths. Later, as an FBI profiler, Madden achieved further notoriety by sequencing the DNA of the world's most notorious serial killers and proposing a controversial "damnation algorithm" that could predict serial killer behavior using DNA alone. Now, a new murderer-the Snow White Killer-is terrorizing women in the Mississippi Delta. When Mara Bliss, Madden's former fiancée, is kidnapped, he must track down a killer who is always two steps ahead of him. Only by entering the killer's mind will Madden ultimately understand the twisted and terrifying rationale behind the murders-and have a chance at ending the psychopath's reign of terror.

For me the book was gripping, the descriptions used were brilliant, you felt like you were with the characters in the book. It is an easy five stars for me and I find it hard to believe it’s the author’s first novel. I loved that the book is covering crime, murders and serial killers from a new and different aspect and I highly enjoyed it. It’s definitely one you will want to add to your wish list if you are a crime fan like me!! I am really looking forward to the follow up!
Profile Image for Kari.
21 reviews2 followers
August 13, 2015
How could I not review this absolutely amazing book? Avid readers are always searching for books that have fast action, intriguing characters, and a plot that pulls you in. In Michael Ransom’s first novel, The Ripper Gene, he accomplishes all of this and then some!

The Ripper Gene had me hooked in the prologue when the story begins on a creepy Halloween night in 1983 when young Lucas Madden and a car full of trick-or-treaters come across a bloody boy in need of help for his friend. Lucas' naive mother offers to go in to the woods to help the boy. Against all the pleas in the car, she went to help the boys to never be seen again. Flash forward to the present day, Lucas Madden, a criminal profiler working for the FBI is still haunted by his mother's face. As an established geneticist, he is working outside the box to find a link in human DNA that predicts criminal behavior. While exploring new cases with his DNA profile, he discovers the biggest link to his mothers case in years...

Michael Ransom has made these characters come alive in your mind and before you know it, you are invested in what's happening to them. I couldn't put it down. I HAD to know what was going to happen next. I won't be a spoiler, I'll just tell you that the story flows well and will not leave you bored. Buy it now! This debut author has a promising future ahead of him, and I hope he writes more books very soon!
Profile Image for Maureen DeLuca.
1,025 reviews32 followers
September 15, 2016
A very interesting book- with a unique plot to it. Dr. Lucas Madden and his associate Terry Randall has developed "a genetics-based behavioral prediction algorithm" for serial killers. The hope is that, using this algorithm, profilers will be able to take a "suspect's DNA--the kind you might recover from a crime scene--and assign a predicted behavioral pattern to aid in the capture of the offender.

Special Agent Madden and his colleagues join forces to solve a ghastly series of crimes perpetrated by a fiend whom the press nicknames the "Snow White Killer." This beast slashes his female victims repeatedly, poses them in an eerily similar fashion, and is clever enough to leave little evidence behind.

While reading this book you have your basic FBI profilers, trying to catch your serial killer- but you also have the scientific aspect of it- Is there such a gene that all serial killers have? Also- is it possible, if you tested people , and this gene is there- are more likely to become a serial killer? And if not, why would some become a killer , while others don't? Which then brings up the " Nature vs. Nurture" debate. A great serial killer read- with some interesting thinking on the side!
1 review
August 22, 2015
As a scientist who absolutely loves mystery, I could not say enough great things about this book!! Many times when reading science thrillers, I look for the slip ups of what couldn't possibly be in the real world, but this book never let me down!!

It was a fast paced thriller that I stayed up late into the night reading and just when I thought it was headed to a predictable path, it took an unexpected turn and kept me on my toes!!! Couldn't put it down and read it in 3 days!!! Loved it and can't wait to read more with Dr. Lucas Madden!!!
Profile Image for Daniel.
2,359 reviews37 followers
November 30, 2015
This review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 3.5 of 5

Michael Ransom's debut novel, The Ripper Gene, is a fast-paced who-dunnit thriller that should keep you glued to the pages of the book. I read this book in three sittings, and only reluctantly stopped reading the first two times.

Dr. Lucas Madden is a former neuroscientist who has become a FBI profiler. His most impressive work as a scientist is that he isolated what he coined the "Ripper gene" in the DNA sequence and proposed that this could determine a predisposition to become a serial killer. Now, as a FBI profiler, Lucas is assigned to a case that's being dubbed The Snow White Killer due to the apple found in the hand of his young female victims. But even early on, Lucas can't shake the feeling that these killings are targeting him , somehow. And when his ex-fiancée is not only kidnapped, but accuses Lucas of committing the crime, he knows he has to solve the mystery quickly.

This book moves along really well. Ransom knows how to hold the reader's attention and keep us wanting to get to the next moment.

The book got off to a slow start for me. The first three or four chapters moved very slowly as our main character was being established. One incident, and Ransom's expounding on it, had me worried early that the book would be full of characters jumping to conclusions.

Very early on, Dr. Madden is giving a lecture to a number of FBI agents. When he opens the floor for questions, he gets one question, which he answers quickly, and then a female agent asks him a question, which, through her explaining the question, prompts a second question - "have you tested it yet?" By his own admission, Madden is "perturbed, but only because she was partly right - we hadn't tested it in the real world yet." He then senses that the agents in the room expect some verbal sparring, and he shuts down lecture and Q&A session. Pretty quick and simple. Except, only two paragraphs later, when someone asks how it went, he says "I think I had a detractor," and the woman is immediately identified. And later still (in the same chapter), after meeting with the woman, he thinks "Despite our bout in the Q and A session after the lecture..." Hmmm... one question, that was a sore point because it was accurate, is considered a 'bout'? I definitely had concerns that this character was going to be awfully wimpy if he can't shake off a very tame Q&A session!

Three other moments in the book bothered me enough that I had to make note of them. Discussion of these notes definitely constitute SPOILERS!

The victims of the Snow White Killer (SWK) have letters written on their foreheads in blood, but the blood isn't from the victims. It is determined that the blood used on the foreheads all comes from the same source. To me, this is highly significant. To Madden's boss, not so much (even though he says it is). He says:
...I don't know about a hunch. I don't like it. But I can't deny that it's significant that the DNA in the bloody letters is coming from the same source. I'm willing to throw you a bone and let you keep working on this angle. But it's low priority. Understood?

Blood found on the victims matches and it's not from the victims, but it's low priority?! That was a tough moment to accept. But also tough... not one of the brilliant FBI or local law enforcement agents ever stopped to think... they began to realize that the letters written on the foreheads were a DNA sequence, not words, and that each of the victims had small pin-pricks on their fingers. Now...I'm not a scientist, but my first thought is that someone with access to blood testing equipment is the killer. I'd be ordering checks on hospitals, clinics, and EMTs in the area! But apparently this is not normal law enforcement thinking, because no one else thinks along these lines.

And finally, near the end of the book, when Madden recognizes that his father is in danger, Madden and his partner rush to the father's home. There is clearly evidence of a struggle (mentioned at least twice). There are papers scattered about, but on one of them, Madden's father has written a cryptic message ... a clue as to where he's been taken. Read that again, carefully. After a struggle, he leaves a note in his own home, to give his son a clue where he's been taken. If he hasn't been taken there yet, how can he leave a note as to where it is? Okay...maybe we can buy the fact that the kidnapper is telling him what's going to happen, but how is there time to write this out after a struggle? Sorry this just didn't pan out well enough for me.

(Also...Madden saying that SWK was dead, when he wasn't ... just made no sense other than it could lead to a second climax.)

But even with these moments that struck me as not quite right, I enjoyed the read and really did get caught up in the story (which is perhaps why these moments stuck out to me so much) and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys mystery/thrillers.

Looking for a good book? The Ripper Gene, by Michael Ransom, is a fast-paced, exciting mystery that will have you riveted to the story. An excellent first novel.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Keith Nixon.
Author 26 books162 followers
November 25, 2015
It's Halloween, 1983. Lucas Madden is out trick or treating with his mother and a friend, Mara Bliss. The group happen across the scene of an accident where some teenagers have been involved in a motorbike crash. Lucas' mother offers to help whilst the others go for help. But Lucas' mother is never seen alive again and her killer is never caught.

Fast forward twenty five years and Madden is a neuroscientist and profiler with the FBI. His mother's untimely death still haunts him. Madden has developed the 'damnation algorithm' that can be used to assess DNA found at a crime scene and assign a behaviourial pattern set against other serial killers.

And Madden has an opportunity to test his algorithm. A murderer, termed the Snow White Killer by the press is terrorizing women in the Mississippi Delta. Suddenly women are being found, their bodies slashed and an apple, containing a razor blade, by their side. When Mara Bliss is kidnapped and raped Madden is accused of her attack. He starts to believe the killer is targeting him and perhaps there's a connection to his mother's death.

But the Snow White Killer is extremely clever. Not a single clue can be found at the crime scenes. Each dead girl has a word on her forehead, daubed in blood. It seems the murderer is constantly several steps ahead. Can Madden and his algorithm find the killer?

This is a novel that screams 'debut'! Why? Because of two major issues. But first, the positives.

Most of the time the pace is sufficiently high and the characters strong. There's a good sense of place, and clearly the author knows where the Mississippi setting very well. The murders are intriguing while not erring on the side of gore. The link to a genetic mutation that may develop into a desire to kill that can be assessed via a simple blood test is interesting and current, and another area where the author's authority shines through.

But down to the problems. The first is the myriad of clunky sentences and repeat words and phrases peppered throughout the narrative. Second is the aspect of show versus tell. The typical advice is more of the former and less of the latter. Unfortunately the balance is not right here.

Both of these aspects could have been resolved before publication with some pruning and revision which is a shame because The Ripper Gene sports a decent premise and Michael Ransom is a promising author. Frankly, whoever edited this book needs a kick in the pants.

Here's some examples:

"Terry told us you stayed at Woodson's place after you were released from hospital last night."

"I did. She let me stay at her place last night since it was close to the hospital ..."


"... Terry's going to screen the DNA from the blood samples on the victims' foreheads. From the last two victims at least."


'Because the bloody messages being left on the victims' foreheads aren't from the victims' own blood."

The video monitor was silent as Raritan and Parkman both digested this. "You're sure?"

"Yes. We've checked and rechecked. The DNA from each victim's forehead never matches that victim's own DNA, in either case."

Over the next half a page there are many more uses of blood, forehead and DNA in combination which all leads to a slow realization on the character's behalf about the source. Unfortunately this fact was outlined a chapter or so before so the reader has to go through almost exactly the same process of discovery twice.

In reality it wouldn't be a surprise if the lead investigator repeated several facts and suppositions to multiple colleagues as a case unfolds, that's the process of communication. But this is a novel and the reader has already been handed these facts, so why go over them all again? Unfortunately it slows the plot and makes for frustrating reading. It also leans towards the tell angle, leading the reader by the nose rather than pointing them in a given direction.

The problem is these quirks were so regular it detracted from the plot and undermined the narrative and conclusion. Ultimately the focus switched from the finding out who the killer was to spotting another horrible paragraph.

Profile Image for Eustacia Tan.
Author 15 books254 followers
September 13, 2015
Hey, so I'll be heading off to a class camp today, but before that, blog tour! Today's blog tour stop is for The Ripper Gene by Michael Ransom.

The Ripper Gene is a mystery starring Dr. Lucas Madden, a neuroscientist/FBI profiler who discovers something called the Ripper Gene, a genetic mutation that makes some people predisposed to serial killing. In the book, he's called back to his hometown to chase a murderer the press calls the Snow White Killer (SNK, as they call the killer). As the case progresses, it becomes clear that this murder is tied to Lucas's childhood, and his mother's murder.

First things first, this book delivers on its promise. The mystery is solid, and I was flipping page after page in order to find out what happened. There were plenty of twists and turns in the story, but I never felt like it was unbelievable.

Now on to the other stuff. The main theme of the book is (to me at least), something like "who determines our destiny"? Are we a product of our genes, or do we have any free will? While Lucas Madden is an atheist, his father is a pastor. Obviously, the two see the world very differently, and while his father doesn't appear that much, it did raise the question of predetermination vs free-will. Bear in mind, this theme is brought up very strongly towards the end of the book. I didn't think it was preachy though.

As for characters, well, I liked Lucas, and didn't get why his estranged from his family (and why it's his fault). It's pretty obvious that he's the "black sheep" of sorts, but I don't get why he's getting blamed for so much. I mean, for example, early in the book, Lucas was called by his brother's girlfriend, who was actually his girlfriend but she cheated on Lucas with his brother before they broke up. Turns out, she was kidnapped (don't worry, this doesn't spoil anything major), and she accused Lucas of being the perpetrator (she's not right in the head). But, in the hospital scene when the family visits, his brother lost his temper pretty quickly, yet was described has having held out an olive branch. That, I didn't get. What as Lucas supposed to apologise for? His estrangement with his father I get, but not the brother.

Overall, I really liked this book. The mystery kept me engaged, and I definitely want to read more adventures starring Lucas Madden (and fellow profiler Woodson). Hopefully this will be the first in a series.

This review was first posted at Inside the mind of a Bibliophile
Profile Image for Maureen.
1,044 reviews32 followers
November 16, 2015
In ‘The Ripper Gene’ we meet FBI profiler Lucas Madden. Lucas has been studying murderers, and especially serial killers for a long time. After watching his mother walk to her death many years ago, Lucas is determined to find out what makes a murderer tick and to capture every murderer he can get his hands on. When Lucas is called near a crime scene where a young woman is murdered lying with an apple in her hands, Lucas soon begins to think there is a new serial killer on the move. When a new body is found with an apple in her hands only two days later, his suspicion is confirmed. Now, together with his new partner, Lucas is determined to find the ‘Snow White Killer’ and get justice for the woman who were killed so brutally. Especially when Lucas family seems to be involved.

Where do I start? Like I said before I love thrillers. I love reading about cases and finding clues about who is the murderer. And I especially love books that make me want to read faster because I just have to know what happens next. ‘The Ripper Gene’ is the perfect example of a thrilling, exciting, fast-paced book that makes you want to read until the very end.
From the moment I started this book I was hooked. This book starts right in the middle of the investigation and even from the first page on I didn’t want to stop reading.

The main character Lucas Madden was easy to like. I love people with a passion for the work they do, and Lucas was definitely a character that fit that bill. Lucas wasn’t really great with people all the time, but I liked him and I especially liked the way he became a FBI profiler. It was fascinating to read about his journey from med school to his life with the FBI.
There is also some talk about the ‘ripper gene’ and DNA. And although I was afraid this would get a little boring, I loved learning about the ‘ripper gene’. Very fascinating and interesting and it didn’t feel boring at all to me.

This book was just very good. I couldn’t wait to learn more about who the Snow White Killer was. The characters were interesting and very likable with flaws and all. Lucas and his new partner have a fun relationship I really enjoyed reading about and there definitely was a lot of mystery. I didn’t know who the murderer was until the moment the characters found out.. Very impressive.
Especially the last chapters were nail-bitingly good and I was hooked to every page. This book definitely was worth losing sleep over.

Michael Ransom is definitely an author I’ll keep an eye out for.
Profile Image for Cheryl M-M.
1,804 reviews48 followers
October 28, 2015
The Ripper Gene has quite a fascinating premise, perhaps not really as far-fetched as it may seem. We live in an era of technology and amazing advancements in medicine and genetics. Now in the 21st century parents can dictate the gender of their child, filter out hereditary diseases or extra chromosomes. Designer babies in a world of commercialism.

So, let's say scientists made it possible, in the near future, to not only discover whether someone has the so-called warrior gene, but also find out if they are a psychopath or sociopath. Then taking it one step further being able to discover the genetic footprint of their possible heinous crimes, and how they will perpetrate them.

The ability to recognize and perhaps even track specific individuals, who are predetermined to commit horrific crimes. Not quite a simple as that is it? First of all there is simply no way to determine whether they will actually kill or which external factors they will be influenced by. Would you want to know if you have a gene like that or whether one of your loved ones could possibly be a serial killer in the making?

Even with all of the information on the Ripper Gene, Dr Lucas Madden still can't manage to keep up with a vicious serial killer. Always one step and one body ahead of the police, the murderous monster is playing cat and mouse games with Lucas.

When events take a personal turn Lucas finds himself in the middle of a dangerous triangle of lies, death and false memories. He suddenly comprehends that although he thinks he is in control of the situation and his analysis of the Ripper Gene in the killer, he is actually just a pawn in a violent killing spree.

The Ripper Gene is an intriguing blend of science, crime and psychological thriller. It grips you and draws you in from the first few pages. Ransom knows how to combine the science and fictional elements without losing the attention of the reader. For a debut novel it is a very strong start.
I received a free copy of this book, courtesy of the publisher, for purposes of review.
Profile Image for Freesiab.
926 reviews44 followers
September 16, 2016
This was a quick read. A great book for traveling. It was suspenseful and a good palate cleanser. I thought the premise at first was interesting but when presented was pretty weak. At the end of the book I saw why it was used as a plot device but still weak. Also I hate books that feel they need to use sex where sex isn't needed. That was a big no for me but the main story was fun and the writing was ok.
Profile Image for Paul Franco.
1,372 reviews11 followers
August 20, 2015
It’s a treat when someone who is at the top of their field, particularly in the sciences, writes a piece of fiction set in their world of expertise. In this case it’s both neuroscience, particularly DNA, and profiling, leading to an entertaining story of the hunt for a serial killer in Louisiana and Mississippi.
Of course a lot of the main character is taken from the author himself, but this is no Marty Sue; his flaws and tragedies keep it from being a simple paean of self-adulation. In the bio he speaks about an incident on Halloween as a kid that, while nothing happened in real life, is used to launch the story here. There are small touches that tell me this is a first-time novelist, but nothing serious, and by midway they’re gone, so it’s pretty smooth reading except for the occasional uber-scientific ramble. At times the descriptions are a little lacking—the run through the high school football stadium is my prime example—but the interplay between the two lead profilers is scintillating, as well as giving me yet another strong tough female character to fall in love with. Minor characters abound, especially in the FBI office, and while their specialties are fascinating, I can’t help but wonder if the actual personas are based on real people, and whether some of them will be. . . let’s say annoyed by the portrayal.
Now if only Stephen Hawking would write a sci-fi novel. . .
50 reviews2 followers
September 11, 2015
The Forge imprint of Tom Doherty Associates has found an excellent source of future mystery thrillers. Author Michael Ransom is, first and foremost, a scientist specializing in toxicogenomics and pharmacogenetics. His prior written work has appeared in various medical journals. "The Ripper Gene" marks his debut plunge into the genre of Mystery/Thrillers. And a noble effort it is.

Though not wanting to sound so similar to other reviewers, I can't help but to also tell you that this book grabs you in the first few pages. And more impressively, it doesn't let you go until the very end with an unexpected outcome. Mr. Ransom does a very good job weaving knowledge of his own field of work into a thrilling story line. Together, fact and fiction blend into a very readable and entertaining mystery. Michael Ransom is a gifted writer.

As a result of the information presented above, I must give this book the highest rating and to highly commend the volume for your reading enjoyment. Anyone who enjoys forensics and science paired with mystery will thoroughly this tale. And after reading, I am looking forward to the next publication from Michael Ransom. 5 STARS

I received an advance readers copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a timely and honest review. There are no other connections or expectations from the author, publisher, or this reviewer.

Profile Image for Kari.
3,588 reviews84 followers
October 23, 2015
I know I've said it a million times, but you never know what you are going to get with a debut book. I am happy to say that I was very pleased with The Ripper Gene. I thoroughly enjoyed Lucas Madden's story. He is a doctor turned FBI profiler. During his research years, he identified a gene dubbed "The Ripper Gene" that tends to be found in serial killers. His theory is that you could potentially predict who might become a serial killer and who would not. But this story isn't solely about that alone. There is a potential serial killer on the loose and Lucas ends up on the case.

That is about all of the plot I am going to share. I really don't want to spoil anything. Let's just say that I loved how it all came together and tied into Lucas's past. What I also liked what the way the author explained the scientific stuff without dumbing it down too much or making it too complicated to understand. He was able to find the right balance so that I think any reader would have no problem "getting it". I loved Lucas. He is a character I would love to read more about in the future.

This is a great debut that sucked me right in and made me stay up late into the night reading! I see a bright future for this author and can't wait to see what he writes next!
Profile Image for Kasey Cocoa.
954 reviews39 followers
September 8, 2015
When it comes to anything that falls within that crime genre I find that I either love the book or toss it into my DNF pile. Thankfully this particular book landed in the love-it area. I love how intelligently the whole thing is written and how intricate the various threads are that Ransom has expertly weaved throughout the novel and how layered the characters are. I rarely rate a book with all five stars as to me that means it's a nearly-perfect book and I am very picky at to what qualifies as nearly-perfect and we all know that nothing is perfect. Ransom is as close to creating a perfect book as I've found in a long time. I loved the read so much I forgot about dinner, much to my youngest's dismay. I didn't want to put the book down even for a moment. I dreamed about reading the book! I am so very thankful that I received this book through Smith Publicity in exchange for an honest review, and no, that had no effect on my opinion.
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