A heady mix of science, politics, thriller and romance, Follett’s The Third Twin is about the not-so-distant possibility of human cloning, and forces us to look at some of the ethical,social, and political ramifications of going there.
Jeannie Ferrami is a young scientist working at a respected Ivy League school and using corporate funding to look at the genetics of criminals through the study of twins. Steve Logan, a smart, mature and well-adjusted young man who is invited to join her study denies that he is a twin, but his parents vehemently deny that he is as well. Nonetheless, Jeannie’s brilliantly-conceived software has turned up Steve’s identical twin, who just happens to be a psychotic killer in jail but whose parents also deny that he was a twin. A mystery, for sure, but they are the perfect pair for her study on nature-vs-nurture, she thinks, until her university sponsor freaks at her discovery and plugs the plug on her project, and then on her career. But not before a “third twin” turns up, and the count-down begins on whether Jeannie can uncover the mystery and stay alive at the same time while the bad guys escalate their threats to protect their decades’ long illegal project..
Follett introduces the “third twin” in a rather contrived way, unfortunately—he’s a crazed rapist who just happens to enter Ferrami’s campus and rape her best friend. When the police get a description of the rapist, it fits Steve perfectly, of course, and he gets framed for the attack. But Jeannie has interviewed Steve and is convinced he doesn’t fit the rapist profile, and goes to bat for him. Their budding romance adds to the plot, as Jeannie is stalked by the rapist and has to rely on her cunning (and our suspension of disbelief) to distinguish him from Steve.
Follett’s exciting writing and fully-developed characters enhance a challenging plot, more than making up for some of the contrivances he is forced to use to pull all his threads together. An enjoyable read.