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The Woman in White Marble

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Cover Art by Riaan WilmansThe Titan Strain

by Virginia Soenksen

ISBN-10: 1620061732
ISBN-13: 978-1620061732
ASIN: B07CZMBKX2

The Titan Strainis available in paperback and eBook for Kindle (also Kindle for Android and iPad - click Kindle for Android). The book can be purchased at the following:

Sunbury Press
Amazon.com
Amazon.co.uk
Barnes & Noble 

A decade following the war that decimated America and crippled Europe, London is one of the few surviving cities. Though the city is rebuilding, it is a bleak, stratified place ruled by the fascist Libertas Party and filled with mods, humans illegally experimenting with genetic modification.

This is Liane’s world. A genetically advanced assassin trained from childhood, she is owned by a secret government organization called the Agency and controlled by her ruthless Handler, Damian. Beautiful, intelligent, and deadly, Liane appears to be the perfect Agent. Secretly, though, she longs for freedom.

When she impulsively saves the life of a young police officer named Seth, she finds herself drawn into his efforts to solve the murders of mods within the city. Their investigations take them into the dark, dangerous realm of black markets, conspiracies, and the hunt for the perfect modification, known as the Titan Strain. But the closer they come to finding the killers, the more dangerous the hunt for the truth becomes.

 

Virginia Soenksen Courtesy of Tall + Small Photography


Virginia Soenksen has always enjoyed creating new worlds and characters, and at some point started writing her ideas down. An art historian and associate director of a museum, she also writes about Japanese textiles. She lives in the Shenandoah Valley, and enjoys finding inspiration through travel. Follow her on social media for more information on the next exciting chapter in the
Genetics Chronicles.

Follow Virginia on Social Media:

Website ~ Virginia Soenksen
Twitter ~ @vmsoenksen
Pinterest ~ Virginia Soenksen
Goodreads ~ Virginia Soenksen

 

 

 

Reviews

 I was able to preview an advanced copy of this book. AMAZING BOOK! Not my normal genre, but I was extremely engrossed and invested in the outcome. Lianne and Seth are my favorite characters and I could not make myself stop reading, I had to know more! This book did not disappoint and I eagerly/anxiously await the sequel!!{Sydney, June 15, 2018}

The Titan Strain is the first book in Virginia Soenksen's Genetics Chronicles. It takes place in London in the future -- the world has been devastated by World War III, and the politics of London has changed. It is now ruled by the fascist Libertas party. The world is laxly policed, and people have started to illegally genetically manipulate themselves to gain superhuman powers to run faster, jump higher, or be stronger. The people that genetically manipulate themselves are known as "mods". Modding often comes with negative side effects; the genetic material that they use comes from animals, and as they manipulate themselves this way, they become more like the animals themselves.

Liane, our heroine, is far stronger and far faster than any of these mods. Her sole purpose in life is to carry out the wishes of the Agency through her handler, Damian. She's not allowed to speak to anybody outside of the Agency, and she has to obey all orders that Damian gives her. It's a little creepy, because if, as an example, Damian wants to go to the theater with her, he even tells her what she has to wear.

Over the course of the book, Liane meets Seth, a normal person who is a police officer working on a serial killer case, and she ends up rebelling against Damian. All of the murder victims are mods, and as she (and Seth) try to figure out what is going on, they end up discovering a new modification that has been developed, known as the Titan Strain. Over the course of the book, her entire outlook on life changes, and her world will never be the same.{Brooke Lorren, June 2, 2018}

I am not going to summarize the book as that is well done elsewhere, but I will mention a few of the things that kept me turning pages. I loved the setting of a dystopian future London after it has been destroyed by war and rebuilt by facists. I felt a strong interest in, and sympathy for, the main character, Liane. Her relationship with her superior officer is both intriguing and repulsive.

I really enjoyed the premise of the "Mods", the illicit drug users who modify their genetic code with animal DNA to gain the super human traits of the animals they want to emulate. This felt new to me instead of the now boring tales of Vampires and Werewolves.

Liane's coming to terms with her indoctrination and rebellion against her previously unshakable world view, in the midst of her coming of age, is a fun read.

Also, the villain in this book is especially despicable and finding out why is a slow burn.

All in all, this was a really fun book and I look forward to the other books in the series!
{Kirk Futrell, June 13, 2018}

#NovelThoughts: I was able to preview this book before its big release this Tuesday May 29th, and MAN I'm so ready for it... I need to discuss with someone!!

The premise alone is enthralling. Though I would have liked to hear more about how sh*t went down in WWIII, how could you NOT be interested in the story set in the ruins of London where everyone is doping to get superhuman-like abilities?!

Prepare yourself for a love triangle between Katniss Everdeen, Christian Grey, and Jack Dawson. Metaphorically speaking, of course.

You won’t be rooting for the nice guy. And this is coming from someone who always cheers for the kind, sensitive, Mr. Right.

Recommendation: A steadily captivating read not just for scifi-fantasy fans, but for any reader who is down with a post-apocalyptic-set story, complete with advanced genetic mutations, a corrupt government, and a dash of love & betrayal.
{Courtney Floegal of Novel Thoughts Blog from May 28, 2018}


An Excerpt

Seth knew it wouldn’t be good news the moment he was called into the captain’s office with the rest of the Task Force. But he went all the same, nervously sweating in his uniform. They all gathered around the desk, standing while the captain sat and looked at them with his piggy little eyes.

            “You’ve all heard about the mod murders by now,” the captain said, scrutinizing each of them in turn. “The eleventh and twelfth victims were discovered today in our district. That means we have jurisdiction over the majority of the cases, so the whole damn thing is now ours.”

            The captain turned towards the evidence screen against the wall that now held a list of victims, photographs, and maps with marked locations. Pointing at the screen, the captain said, “All of these victims were known mods. And not the regular junkies who just inject the stuff monthly in order to turn heads. These would dose weekly, and all had incurred permanent genetic alteration. One had incisors so long he couldn’t even close his jaws. All were rumored to be regulars at the mod meetings in the ruins.”

            The captain turned to Seth, barking out, “Laski, I’ll expect you to take the lead on this, seeing as how you’re the only one here who’s gone into a mod meeting and come out alive.”

            No thanks to my own skills, Seth thought as he nodded.

            The captain looked back at the screen, gesturing with the hand in a remote keyboard glove. Images of severed limbs filled the screen, and he went on, “Same M.O. for each. Dismembered post-mortem and then scattered. So far there hasn’t been a single complete corpse found, just bits and pieces, so cause of death is uncertain.”

            The captain gestured again, and the screen went blank as the lights went up. “The dosage of mod serum in all of them was off the charts. You’re likely looking for a dealer, or another mod. Now get to work. The media is already all over my ass on this.”

            The Task Force did so immediately, beginning a long string of interviews of the families and friends. Seth was at most of them, nodding sympathetically as he listened to the widows, the fathers, the roommates. It was exhausting work, one that left more questions than answers. None of the victims had anything in common. One was a doctor, the other a low-level thief. There was a beautiful former model, and an eighteen-year old kid barely into university. There was no pattern, no thread linking them, other than the modding.

            And then, two weeks after the investigation began, the body of a child was found. Seth went to the morgue to get the autopsy report firsthand. The tiny arm and leg were draped with a sheet, which the harangued medical examiner only pulled back for a few minutes as she explained, “The kid was identified by the genetic profile. Turns out she was born with Beckwith–Wiedemann syndrome, diagnosed pre-natal. Developed pancreatoblastoma when she was five, didn’t respond to treatment. Parents started dosing her with mod serum. It cured the cancer, but now here she is on a slab. What a waste…”

That evening, Seth wearily climbed the stairs to his flat. His feet were aching and the cold beer in the grocery bag under his arm was the only thing that promised to get him through another night of pouring over the case docs.

            The door keypad was an old one, and he mashed his thumb against it several times before it opened. The loft beyond was dark, save for the faint green light from the evidence screen he’d carried in from work. Seth closed the door, kicking off his shoes and moving towards the kitchen.

            “You’re off track.”

            The grocery bag went crashing to the floor, glass breaking as Seth drew his gun and leveled it into the dark corner of the kitchen. A figure was standing there, shrouded in shadow. Then the person shifted slightly, the light from the window falling across a familiar face and white-blond hair.

            Still gripping the gun, Seth stared at Liane and gasped, “Jesus, you nearly gave me a heart attack. What are you – how did you get in here?”

            Liane gestured to the window. “You leave it unlocked.” She eyed his weapon, saying, “I can disarm you in three point five seconds.”

            Still breathing hard, Seth finally lowered the gun. He noticed the bag was now leaking all over the floor, soaking his socks. Swearing, he carried the dripping bag to the sink and dropped it in with a rattle of broken glass. Holstering his gun, he turned back and demanded, “What are you doing here?”

            “You’re off track,” she repeated, walking over to the evidence screen. Raising a hand, she traced the text of the latest daily and read, “You wrote to ‘concentrate all efforts on the dealer who supplied the victims.’”

            “Yeah, well they were all mods,” Seth said, stripping off his wet socks and tossing them into a corner. “That means they all had dealers.”

            “Not the same one,” Liane said, her hair shimmering as she shook her head. “Victim One, two, and seven were leopard mods. Victim Three through Six were reptile. Eight through twelve were wolf mods. Dealers specialize in one kind of serum. There’s no chance of any overlap.”

            Seth frowned at her. “How do you know? Who are you?”

            Liane’s eyes closed off, and she looked away towards the window. The meaning was evident; I can leave at any time.

            “Ok, ok, I won’t ask,” he said with mild exasperation. “You’ve been following the cases, clearly. So if this isn’t about a dealer, then why do you think these people died?”

            “I don’t know,” she said, seemingly reluctant to admit it. “But I think I might be able to help you find out.”

            Seth looked at her for a long moment, walking over to join her in front of the evidence screen. The green light reflected on their faces as he asked her, “I need you to tell me why. Not who you are or what you do, but why you want to help me.”

            It took Liane a minute to answer, and she seemed to carefully consider her words before she said, “These people were harmless. They didn’t hurt anyone; they didn’t do anything. They were just…normal. Normal people shouldn’t die.”

            A crease appeared between his eyes. “Normal people die all the time.”

            Liane turned to face him fully, her voice low and full of warning, “Not when I can help it.”

            Seth finally nodded. “Okay. I’d welcome having an extra set of eyes.”

“Keep working the case on your end, then, and I’ll do the same on mine. I’ll come back when I have some idea of what to do next.”

With that, Liane turned to go. He let her reach the window and raise it before he had the courage to blurt out, “I was beginning to think you weren’t real, you know.”

            She paused, glancing back at him.

            He gave his crooked smile as he went on, “Couldn’t find you in any of the databases. I thought maybe I’d met a ghost.”

            Liane turned back to the window, and as she ducked out he heard her say, “You did.”

            By the time he reached the window to look out after her, she was already gone.