Book One of the Disciples of Cassini Trilogy
Dust Jacket Hardcover
Doctor Marcela Warrick embarks on research for biotech Everjein in which she is to spend five years isolated in a hermitically sealed habitat in the Antarctic. The results could see Everjein profit from a government contract to establish the first human colony on Titan. The project includes specialists in agriculture, technology, engineering and medicine. Marcela, agriculturalist, meets Doctor Kian Barret whose only goal is to establish a successful, off world, human breeding program through implantation of surrogates with genetically chosen embryos.
Meanwhile on mainland Australia, Detective Zoe Moore finds herself investigating a series of unexplained fatalities in which the link between the victims is amniotic fluid in their mouths and inexplicable traces of an experimental drug in their toxicology, connecting them directly to Barret's research.
As the body account increases Zoe and her team find themselves investigating events that defy scientific explanation and that may well threaten the survival of the human species.
Original Cover Art by Penny de Byl
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.aardbeistudios.lostsouls
David Layton watched helplessly as the pavement suddenly came up to meet his nose, hard. “Arsehole,” he shouted at the inconsiderate cyclist who had sideswiped him and quickly rode off into the distance. David picked himself up, screwing up his nose as he brushed off the remainder of his hotdog, now decorating the front of his shirt. He felt a warm sensation on his top lip. Wiping it away with his wrist, he discovered he had a minor nosebleed. No consideration . . . some people, he thought to himself. He looked around the lunchtime bustle in Melbourne’s Treasury Park. No one was sympathetic or concerned about his predicament. Regarding his watch, he realized there was only ten minutes before he had to be back at school. There was no time to run home for a new shirt. Deflated, he started back for work, cautiously walking to one side of the footpath. All of a sudden, he felt a shiver, although it was a perfectly sunny spring day. He dismissed it as a shock from his recent ordeal. But then he felt faint. Lightheaded and dizzy, he made a beeline for the closest park bench. Bent over with his head between his knees, he got the strangest feeling that he was being pulled upward. Soon he could see himself keeled over on the bench, from above, as though he was floating. The very idea that this could be an out-of-body experience barely had time to make its way into his mind when there was a bright flash and everything went black. David Layton’s body slumped forward. Limp and lifeless, it toppled off the seat. Copious amounts of a viscous clear fluid began flowing from his open mouth onto the dirt. * Detective Inspector Zoe Moore flashed her ID card as she entered the morgue. She caught a glimpse of her dark Jamaican features in the glass doors as she entered. Damn . . . lipstick, she thought. Her morning schedule had been interrupted by the call from Superintendent Story, insisting she take on a new case. Pathological cause of death was one of Zoe’s least favorite topics. It became worse, as part of her job, when the pathologist was Professor Durant. Durant was sixty-seven. Zoe was thirty-five. It wasn’t the age gap that Zoe blamed for her aversion toward him, but rather the way he tended to waffle on in great detail. All Zoe wanted was a short list of dot-pointed facts and to get on with her day. Having to consult Professor Durant, she knew this was not going to happen anytime soon. “My dear, I’ve been expecting you.” The professor grinned. He was working behind a large viewing lens positioned above a naked female body. He came around the operating table and offered his hand to her. Zoe couldn’t fathom how anyone could spend so much time in the company of soulless cadavers. The very smell of death made her want to throw up. “Hello, Professor. I’m here for the results on David Layton,” she said, gingerly shaking his hand, knowing full well where it had been. “Of course, of course,” he began. “A very puzzling case indeed.” He looked at her over the rim of his glasses, ushering her to another table. “I think this one will fascinate even you.” “Oh? So he didn’t just choke on his lunch?” she enquired. “Oh no, my dear. Quite the opposite.” He hesitated. “Though really it’s not the opposite at all. The opposite of choking would be not choking, I assume. Well, that much is true. I can categorically declare that he did not choke. But a cause of death is the opposite of choking . . .” He paused in contemplation searching for some clever words. Zoe took the opportunity to interrupt. “He didn’t choke? Suffocate? The paramedics at the scene were very certain . . .” “Pithel. Paramedics. What would they know? They can’t see inside. They can’t analyze fluids. No, my dear, I’m afraid they wouldn’t have been able to ascertain what had happened to this poor guy, not just by looking at him.” The professor folded back the shroud on the table to reveal the grayish-blue pallor torso of twenty-eight-year-old David Layton’s corpse. He signaled for Zoe to come over for a closer look and put his fingers into Mr. Layton’s mouth. He opened it, slightly feeling around for nothing in particular. “No . . . no choking. No severe interalveolar edema or desquamated respiratory epithelium as we would usually see with asphyxiation. Also, the contusions on the face and nasal bleeding appear to be superficial and unrelated,” he offered. Zoe had been to enough autopsies to know that suffocation victims presented with extreme fluid and skinning in the lungs. She also knew from interviewing witnesses in the park that David Layton’s facial injuries were the result of a preceding collision with a cyclist. The cyclist had not yet been identified. Professor Durant continued, “When sudden death occurs in young adults, it usually turns out to be a congenital or acquired cardiovascular disease. However, my investigations have not discovered anything unusual. Neither can I find any symptoms to suggest—” Zoe interrupted, “So, Professor, you know what didn’t kill him, but do you have any idea what did?” “None,” replied the professor. “It’s like he was alive . . . and then he wasn’t.” “What about the fluid found excreted from his mouth?” she queried, reading from her notes. “A bit of a puzzle, I’m afraid,” the professor frowned. Zoe was becoming irritated. She didn’t have time for the professor’s guessing games. All she wanted to know was the cause of death so she could hopefully close the case, given there were no unusual circumstances. “What was the fluid?” Zoe asked in hope of prying more information from the professor. He walked over to his computer and opened a file. He began reading from it. “It’s 98.4 percent water, 0.6 percent salt, and 0.2 percent albumin.” Zoe stood agape. “Albumin? As in . . .” “Yes,” replied the professor, “albumin as in the globular proteins found in amniotic fluid. And yes, my dear, it appears to be human.”
Penny de Byl is a professor of computer game design and development, artificial intelligence, animation, and educational technology. She has been awarded numerous awards for teaching and research throughout her twenty-year career. She has a PhD in artificial intelligence and computer game character programming. To date, she has written four books, including the best-selling Holistic Game Development and Artificial Life Possibilities: A Star Trek Perspective. This book represents her first foray into fiction, combining her expertise in computer science with her love of crime mysteries and police procedurals. For more details, see her website at http://pennydebyl.me
In Lost Souls, Penny introduces a rich diversity of characters, always revealing facets of themselves that the reader is at once familiar and comfortable with, yet surprised and intrigued by. The characters show believable depth and traits, and aren't afraid to open themselves to the possibilities and challenges of our own earth's future. Penny's style of real and engaging dialogue, along with cleverly researched and imaginative ideas, skillfully draws the parallel story lines to a creatively conceived ending ... and of course you will be waiting for Book 2.
-- Kayleen Wood, Editor
Lost Souls is simply gripping and captivating:
“Lost Souls: Book One of the Disciples of Cassini Trilogy” by Author Penny de Byl is simply an astounding read that has captivated my mind and imagination for nights on end. In many ways “Lost Souls” will literally place you in the center of Antarctic where Main Character Dr. Marcela Warrick takes center stage with her research that turns into a chilling thriller of epic proportion. A killing spree unfolding on the main land places Detective Zoe Moore into the mix where time and answers are quickly running out. In short this is simply a gripping on the edge of your seat thrill ride that is not for the faint of heart. I thought that Author Penny de Byl’s writing style is fast paced making for a quick read that most if not all can enjoy.
In short words to describe this book for me are: Gripping, Captivating, Thrilling and Suspenseful in a well-written manner that will leave you wanting more. 5 Stars and cant wait to get my hands on the next book.
Lost Souls is an engaging read that weaves together an intelligent design of science and fiction.
Author Penny De Byl’s story is a fascinating and believable look at what could be. The fictional element is captivating while the science behind it is illuminating. In her story Penny brings the positive and the destructive possibilities of technology to life. When a team sets out to the Antarctic, to Biojein, to explore the greatest experiment in medicine, technology and sustainability they will face more than they bargained for.
Penny’s story resonates on more than one plane. Her ability to bring the story to life is remarkable. The characters, dialogue and plot are gripping, taking your imagination on a ride you won’t soon forget. There is spirituality, science, death, survival, birth, love, suspense, and hope. I highly recommend it!
Intrigued by mystery deaths and scientific research ,“Lost Souls: Book One of the Disciples of Cassini Trilogy” is a fantastic read. A most captivating plot of the possibilities of experimenting with life outside our atmosphere. Never a dull moment and keeps you guessing until the end. You will not want to put this book down. I highly recommend.
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