The Darwin Conspiracy is not the sort of book I'd pick up normally. I think I chose it because I have been obsessed of late with neanderthals. Part of me hoped the book would be about that. Sadly it wasn't. The novel tells the story of Hugh, an evolutionary biology grad student, who is dealing with the death of his much adored younger brother years prior to the story beginning Intermingling with that story is the story of Darwin himself using, at times, his own words and his oft forgotten daughter Elizabeth. Mixing history and fiction rather artfully, John Darnton manages to construct a semi-believable tale, especially given Victorian morality.
I listened to the book in audio format. It's 10 discs long and it could, in my opinion, stand to be about 7. Apparently, Mr. Darnton had never heard of an editor, those people whose profession it is to keep authors for rambling on unnecessaily. The book really picked up around disc 6 in the unabridged version. I was really surprised by the ending. I'm invite my readers to inform me should they read this book whether they are more clever detectives than I am because the ending was completely unpredictable. I don't find this to be typical of mystery books of any sort. I usually get it around page 85 of a 200 page novel. The fact that I didn't get it is one of the reasons that I'm pushing this book above mid-range in my ranking system.
I give this book a 7 out of 10. As I said before, the author needs to hire a better editor. But if you can get past the verbosity, it's a good read for train ride or long car trip. I would also recommend it to anyone who wants to advocate atheism without being seen as obnoxious. I was a person of faith when I began this book and finish it as one. However, the arguments in the book did give me pause. That's something that, as my atheist friends would explain, is difficult to achieve.