The Prodigal Son is a riveting mystery set in 1969. A deadly neurotoxin is missing from Dr. Millie Hunter’s lab. Millie is a gifted biochemist that is married to an even more famous biochemist, Dr. Jim Hunter. She is also the daughter of the Holloman Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Patrick O’Donnell, therefore she notifies her dad of the dangerous theft. Shortly thereafter, a rash of mysterious deaths from this toxin spread through this college town. Who stole the toxin and why?
I’ll admit that I couldn’t put this book down. I really wanted to know the end of this mystery. Even after it became apparent who the villain of the book was, I still wanted to keep reading. The mastery of this novel isn’t the mystery as much as the expert building of the layers of wonderful characters. I enjoyed all of the characters; victims and villains and wanted to read more about them. Luckily I can. This book is the fourth in McCullough’s Carmine Delmonico series. I haven’t read any of the other books in the series, but I still enjoyed this book. Delmonico is related to Patrick O’Donnell and seemingly half of the town, and is the primary investigator on this mystery.
Another interesting aspect of this book was that Dr. Jim Hunter is African American and Dr. Millie Hunter is white. A biracial marriage in 1950’s and 1960’s America is examined as well as the status of women in society. Dr. Millie Hunter is a professional woman in an era when that was uncommon, but she is also always considered beneath her husband in the world’s eye. I thought both angles added interest and depth to the novel. Although I did have questions about McCullough’s handling of race at some points. It would be interesting to discuss this with someone else! Feel free to comment if you have read the book.
My only complaint about this book is small . . . I really hated the name of the University – Chubb University? It’s supposed to be Ivy League, but all I kept thinking was Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and Chubb – which one doesn’t belong? There were also a couple of items that didn’t seem to fit with the times.
I have read Colleen McCullough's historical fiction in the past (The Thorn Birds and Morgan's Run), and it was interesting to see her delve into a new genre.
Overall, I thought The Prodigal Son was a great mystery with wonderfully complex characters.
Book Source: Review Copy from Simon & Schuster – Thank-you.
Simon & Schuster has graciously offered a giveaway of one copy of The Prodigal Son by Colleen McCullough.
If you would like to win a copy of this book please leave a comment about what intrigues you about the this book or about author Colleen McCullough.
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The deadline for entry is midnight on Friday January 25th, 2013.
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I am the Environmental Engineering Technology Instructor at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College and a mom with three wonderful children; two sons and one daughter. I have loved to read and watch movies since I was a child. I knew my husband was for me when I found him looking through my books in my apartment during our first date and offering his opinion!