Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Genetic Genealogy identifies parent of fetus?


If you are looking for a medical science fiction thriller, Genesis may be of interest. This would be particularly true if you are a fan of Robin Cook from reading some of his earlier thirty or so medical crime novels. Published last month Genesis can stretch your mind a bit about the potential of genetic genealogy to solve crimes and not just cold crimes.


If you are not familiar with Cook's genre, he takes an emerging technology and fictionalizes its use or abuse when applied to medical practice. For example about five years ago he wrote Cell about using cell phones to advance personalized health care.  


In Genesis his protagonist is a brilliant but antisocial pathology resident who stumbles into genetic genealogy as she tries to identify a killer who has attempted to cover his tracks by masking them as fentanyl laced opioid overdoses. Armed only with Blaine Bettinger's The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genealogy and Tamar Weinberg's The Adoptee's Guide to DNA Testing: How to Use Genetic Genealogy to Discover Your Long-Lost Family she steamrolls in search of her killer who may be the father of a 10 week old fetus discovered during the autopsy of his mother.



From Cook's epilogue:

“Let’s look on the bright side,” he said.”
“I’m having trouble seeing the bright side,” Laurie said.
“It seems that you and Aria Nichols have added genetic genealogy to the forensic grab bag of tricks to make it possible to construct a perpetrator’s genome. If that’s not a bright side, I don’t know what is.”
That's enough of a spoiler.