Death by DNA

Pierce Roberts

Book Cover

GENRE

ADVENTURE DRAMA POLITICAL MYSTERY RELIGIOUS SUSPENSE/THRILLER ACTION COMEDY CRIM

    Core Theme

    JUSTICE

    TIME PERIOD

    20th Century (multiple decades),Contemporary

    COMPARABLE TITLES

    THE MUMMY, THE DA VINCI CODE, HUNTERS (TV)

    CHARACTER LIST

    TOM: LATE-30S. LEAD. EARNEST, CHARMING, KIND-HEARTED, ADVENTUROUS.

    KATE: EARLY-30S. LOVE INTEREST.

    BRAD: LATE-30S. COLLEAGUE AND FRIEND.

    JOSEPH: MID-20S. ALLY.

    JEAN: LATE-30S. ALLY.

    WILHEIM: 40S. ANTAGONIST.

    Logline

    Nazi Death Camp physician escapes capture to the jungles of Argentina where he developes a DNA targeting weapon of mass destruction. A group of USDA / CDC / Pasteur Institute scientists and a young Lakota Sioux join forces to unravel the mass die offs of animals and collide with the Nazi plans .

    Target Audiences

    Age: 13-17,18-34,35-54,55+

    Target Gender: Universal

    Setting

    Montana Paris Argentina Washington

    Based on a True Story

    No

    Publishing Details

    Status: Yes: with a Publisher

    Publisher: Austin Macauley

    Year Published: 2017

    Starting Description

    All around the world there is a sudden rash of mass animal die offs of birds, deer, fish , insects where a single sex might be affected, sparing the rest. Flocks of birds drop like feather rain from the sky. A group of veterinarians are recruited by the USDA to be trained as forensic investigators.

    Ending Description

    The Nazi plans to overthrow the US government with a mass political assassination on Inauguration Day. Tracked by the team to Washington, he collides with the team with help from the supernatural forces that gather against this ‘ Destroyer’ of life .

    Group Specific

    Information not completed

    Hard Copy Available

    No

    ISBN

    Information not completed

    Mature Audience Themes

    Information not completed

    Plot - Other Elements

    Twist

    Plot - Premise

    Overcoming Monster/Villain

    Main Character Details

    Name: Dr Kate Vensky

    Age: 35

    Gender: Other

    Role: Protagonist

    Key Traits: Confident,Decisive,Faithful,Leader,Selfless

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Wilheim Berthetzel

    Age: 98 ( looks like his forties because of his youth serum)

    Gender: Male

    Role: Antagonist

    Key Traits: Charming,Educated,Secretive,Villainous

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Joseph Blackfeather

    Age: 18

    Gender: Male

    Role: protagonist

    Key Traits: Faithful,Heroic,Obedient

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Jules LeClerc

    Age: 50

    Gender: Male

    Role: protagonist

    Key Traits: Charming,Engaging,Educated,Sexy

    Development Pitch

    This is the first book in the Destroyer series . The Trilogy flows well from book to book with engaging characters , plot/ story line has twists that keep the audience engaged in the story with rapid paced action. Readers comment in reviews that the story would translate to an exciting film / series .

    Genre

    ACTION, SUSPENSE, THRILLER, ROMANCE

    Brief

    A Nazi believed dead is in fact very much alive, sustained by a youthful elixir, with plans to dominate the world via a powerful death ray weapon. Only American veterinarian Tom O'Dell, with the help of a group of colleagues, can stop the Nazi and save the world.

    Overall Rating

    FAIR

    Point of View

    THIRD PERSON

    Narrative Elements

    Authors Writing Style: FAIR

    Characterization: FAIR

    Commerciality: FAIR

    Franchise Potential: FAIR

    Pace: FAIR

    Premise: FAIR

    Structure: GOOD

    Theme: FAIR

    Accuracy of Book Profile

    Yes. The developmental pitch could be more detailed.

    Draw of Story

    Any story that features a Nazi bent on global domination is always sure to intrigue, especially in these volatile times of white-supremacist resurgence. The gradual immersion of the protagonist into this world of global conspiracy is interesting as the protagonist evolves from a lonely veterinarian in rural Wisconsin to a government agent hunting a Nazi, and falls in love in the process. In this way the story is aligned with many successful summer blockbusters in the action/adventure genre. At its best, the story feels fast-paced and page-turning as it speeds to its climax with many twists along the way, and we grow to increasingly like the protagonist and the group of his colleagues also hunting down the evil Nazi.

    Possible Drawbacks

    There is an intriguing premise here in the concept of a Nazi believed dead who is in fact very much alive and planning global domination, and there is an emerging market for Nazi-focused tales, such as 2018's OVERLORD, 2020's BLOOD VESSEL, or the recent TV series HUNTERS. The problem with DEATH BY DNA is the manner in which this tale is portrayed; it feels as if more time and planning could have gone into the writing of the novel as the story relies far too much on coincidence, contrived events, and unbelievable character motivation. The story opens with mass deaths of animals worldwide--an intriguing opening that arouses readers' curiosity--only to reveal that these mass deaths are caused by the Nazi antagonist's death ray weapon, but this explanation makes little sense: If the Nazi was testing the weapon, why so many tests? Why so many test locations all over the world? Why not test out the weapon only on a few species in the Amazon rainforest where the Nazi resides so as to not arouse suspicion of the world's scientists elite, which of course is exactly what happens? There is also a strong reliance of this story on clichés--an evil genius bent on global domination; the lonely everyman protagonist falling in love; a happily-ever-after type of ending; etc.--and not enough originality to the story. There are many ways in which this story could have created its own spin on these familiar tropes, becoming a fresh take on a seemingly formulaic plot, but for the most part the story fails to do this.

    Use of Special Effects

    THE STORY RELIES A LITTLE BIT ON SPECIAL EFFECTS

    Primary Hook of Story

    During these volatile times of white-supremacist resurgence, a Nazi antagonist bent on global domination is certain to intrigue prospective audiences. Audiences love to root for a humble, good-hearted everyman and protagonist Tom O'Dell, the lonely rural veterinarian, meets this description well. Audiences will enjoy watching Tom become immersed in a dark and fascinating web of global intrigue as an evil genius threatens the planet and Tom is the man to stop him. The story is at heart a fun, entertaining blockbuster that never takes itself too seriously and could find a large audience with the right tone and cast.

    Fanbase Potential

    It could have as large a fanbase as any regular summer blockbuster could.

    Awards Potential

    No, the awards community generally does not look favorably on popcorn entertainment.

    Envisioned Budget

    LOW BUGET

    Similar Films/TV Series

    THE MUMMY, HUNTERS (TV), MISSION IMPOSSIBLE

    What’s New About the Story

    The animal/science angle to this story is unique and detailed and feels authentic, and the concept of a Nazi from WWII believed dead but in fact alive and planning global domination is fresh enough that it hasn't been seen much, but for the most part this story follows tropes and clichés too closely. In order to feel more original, these common tropes should be played around with more so that they can be made to feel fresh, avoiding cliché. There are myriad ways to achieve this, such as subverting audience expectations, or playing around with hard-worn concepts such as gender roles and sexual identity. A modern audience demands a certain inventiveness within genre and progressive character portrayals from even entertaining blockbusters.

    Lead Characters

    Protagonist Tom is easy to empathize with as a lonely rural veterinarian tired of his job and seeking adventure, and the antagonist Nazi is delightfully vile and insane, but beyond that the characters feel a little flat and like we've seen them all before.

    Uniqueness of Story

    No, the story lacks originality, the characters need more depth, and the pacing needs work.

    Possible Formats

    Film - Studio, Film - Streaming

    Analyst Recommendation

    WORK IN PROGRESS

    Justification

    This novel also feels much too long for a high-stakes thriller, which causes the pace to drag. A reduction of 20-30% of the word count would do wonders for this story, pushing it towards page-turner status.

    Tips for Improvement

    More originality, more depth of character, more logic to the plot and character motivations, removing plot holes and gaps in believability, and a slightly more serious feel to the story while maintaining its overall fun feel--it borders on cartoonish at times.

    Brief

    Rural veterinarian Tom O'Dell is pulled from his boring life into a web of global intrigue when he is tasked with stopping a Nazi who was once believed dead during WWII from achieving global domination. Tom's new life promises danger, excitement, and possibly even love--but can he stop the evil Nazi?

    What We Liked

    Any story that features a Nazi bent on global domination is always sure to intrigue, especially in these volatile times of white-supremacist resurgence. In this way the story is aligned with many successful summer blockbusters in the action/adventure genre. Audiences love to root for a humble, good-hearted everyman and protagonist Tom O'Dell, the lonely rural veterinarian, meets this description well. Audiences will enjoy watching Tom become immersed in a dark and fascinating web of global intrigue as an evil genius threatens the planet and Tom is the man to stop him.

    Film: This story offers something for everyone and has universal appeal. There are thrills, scares, danger, romance, twists, and plenty of opportunity for fun character roles that could attract big-name actors. At its best, DEATH BY DNA is a suspenseful globetrotting thrill-ride that hurtles toward a big climax, offering twists, romance, and scares along the way, and with a big budget and great cast, it could be the next big summer blockbuster.

    TV: DEATH BY DNA offers great opportunity as a TV series. Viewers would enjoy tuning in each week or binge-watching to see a diverse cast of beloved characters inch ever-closer to the evil mastermind behind it all, as the world inches closer to its doom in the madman's hands. A TV series with its expanded runtime across a whole season offers opportunity to flesh out character backstories and could even include a plotline (or possibly an entire season) based on the Nazi antagonist's experiences during WWII which helped forge the monster as we see him in the present. A TV series also allows the major developments of the plot to be developed in more detail at a more restrained pace--such as Tom's and Kate's relationship--until the closing episodes ramp it all up for a fast-paced, thrilling finale. More characters and subplots could be introduced to better portray the huge stakes that the plot hinges around, and a new villain could be introduced toward the end for a second season.

    Key points: 1) Fun premise
    2) Protagonist we can root for
    3) Exciting, thrilling, fast-paced plot
    4) Repulsive, intelligent, insane villain
    5) Universal appeal

    Synopsis

    RURAL WISCONSIN: TOM O’DELL (late-30s, tall, muscular, veterinarian, divorced, childless) has his arm inside a cow’s vagina, grimacing slightly at the odor. He’s lonely, tired of his job. It’s his birthday and aside from a call from his mother, he spends it alone, drinking beers. Knocking on his door. It’s BRAD UPTON (late-30s), a vet with the USDA and former classmate. Brad is concerned about mass deaths of species, happening at an alarmingly rapid rate without explanation; for example, millions of monarch butterflies simply fell out of the sky recently in Mexico. The USDA is panicking. Brad wants Tom to lead the research into this in the area of Wisconsin. First, Tom will have to fly to Atlanta for training.

    In Atlanta, Brad drives Tom to a park sectioned off by CDC vans and yellow tape, people moving about purposefully. KATE VENSKY (early-30s, intelligent, beautiful), USDA vet, greets them. She’s in charge of the project. She introduces Brad and Tom to the group. They are searching the park for green anoles mass dying without explanation but the cover story for the public is a rabid fox in the park. They find many dead anoles.

    At a conference the next day, people talk about the mass deaths. Tom is hypnotized by his attraction to the confident, beautiful and intelligent Kate. A Russian vet gives a stark presentation, finishing by saying they must all together find the cause of the mass deaths as it cannot be natural and must come from Hell. Vets from all over the world share similar findings from their countries. A UK vet says he believes it is a bio-weapon targeting a species based on its DNA, “Hitler-like.”

    After the conference Kate, Tom and Brad chat and there is clear chemistry between Kate and Tom. Kate appears a little nervous. She mentions being religious and Tom likes that about her. Kate tells them that, as well as the scientific information, they will receive firearms training, military self-defense, and will become deputized federal agents.

    FORT PECK INDIAN RESERVATION, MONTANA: JOSEPH BLACKFEATHER (mid-20s) attempts to wake his 100-year-old great-grandfather, who is a Sioux Shaman, from night terrors—a regular occurrence. The next morning, Joseph’s great-grandfather wakes and describes the dream: He was floating with his ancestors looking down at the world and heard in every language animal and human the words, “The Destroyer of Life is here”—a warning. Later, Joseph finds that hundreds of cattle have died without explanation.

    At a Japanese restaurant celebrating a week of training completed, Kate tells Tom and Brad that she’s single. At the end of the conference, the gang receives their certificates, federal CC permits, firearm registrations, federal emergency contact lists, etc., as well as a check for $100,000 each. Kate can’t stop looking at Tom—she is extremely attracted to him.

    FOUR MONTHS LATER: Tom is working in Wisconsin when Kate calls inviting him to a conference in Chicago with her. They go on a date. Their chemistry is undeniable. They kiss.

    Waiting on the USDA to arrive, Joseph talk with another Indigenous man on the reservation who is worried about the USDA quarantining them for fear of a viral infection. Joseph says they can’t do that without explicit permission as this is sovereign land but the man is wary, says the US government has lied so much to them and done so much, why would the government not lie again? Tom arrives with the USDA and asks Joseph for help keeping this whole thing secret while they investigate. Kate introduces herself to the group as the person in charge of the investigation. They check out the dead cows: 209 dead, including 49 juveniles, all female; males don’t seem to be affected. They perform necropsies on some of the cows.

    Tom, Kate, and Brad speak with Joseph’s grandfather who frightens them with his belief in an Evil rising again, confirmed by these deaths of cows which he had foreseen. Kate believes they are on a mission to save the world. Later that night, Joseph’s grandfather dies. An upset Joseph looks through his grandfather’s diary and finds entries bearing swastikas and a sketch of an intelligent-looking man in his 30s beside the message: “DESTROYER MUST BE DESTROYED.” It is the most recent entry. Joseph calls Kate. He tells her about the diary entry, then takes photos of the diary and sends them to her. Kate looks through photographs of the grandfather’s drawings: sketches of the Holocaust and atrocities the Nazis committed. Kate sends the photos to a Nazi expert in Paris named JULES who recognizes the sketch of the man labeled Destroyer as WILHEIM BERHETZEL, who was thought to have died in a plane crash over Switzerland after the fall of the Reich. Jules digs out photos of Berhetzel and it’s definitely him in the sketch.

    AMAZON RIVER BASIN, ARGENTINA: Berhetzel in the jungle. He has been here for almost 70 years. His soul belongs to the Devil. He was a medical student when he joined the Nazi Party. He conducted research in death camps with the aim of creating a Fountain of Youth drug for an immortality-obsessed Hitler. At the death camps he harvested the babies of pregnant women to experiment upon. He had successfully prevented the babies from aging, and when the war ended, he looted Nazi treasure and fled with the drugs, faking his death—but not before he murdered every Nazi who knew about his creation. He lives in a self-sustaining compound in the jungle. Here, he reworked Nazi research on the Death Ray weapon and built one that worked—a super weapon that will allow him to rule the planet. He built drones and sent them around the globe to destroy DNA-specific targets (the mass deaths). His drones are fast, quiet, small, and can kill an individual or group of many, depending on what he commands it. Now he plans to test it on the president of France. He just needs to retrieve a sample of the president’s DNA. Jules and JEAN travels to Switzerland to dig up Berhetzel’s grave. There, he discovers an imposter in the grave; the corpse’s dental and bone data do not match Berhetzel’s. Kate shows up at Tom’s house—he, her, Brad and Joseph must go to Paris. She tells him about Jules’s discovery: Berhetzel is possibly still somehow alive. Alone, Kate and Tom tell each other they love each other.

    Berhetzel pays an escort to sleep with the French president’s womanizing son in order to collect a DNA sample that will allow Berhetzel to kill the president, which he will do during the G8 summit. Now, he flies to Germany in a small plane, returning for the first time since he fled the country. On the way, he arrives in Miami, walks around. He spots a muscular Hispanic man playing volleyball on the beach, decides to make the man a target. The man comes over to the tables for a rest and wipes his sweaty head with a napkin. The man returns to the volleyball game and Berhetzel swipes the napkin. He feeds the sweat sample to a discreet machine which analyzes it and locks in the man’s DNA. Berhetzel launches an attack and a barely perceptible high-pitched frequency sounds before the man jerks and falls forward, dead. Nearby people erupt into panic and Berhetzel walks away, smirking.

    Tom, Kate, Brad and Joseph arrive in Paris. Brad and Joseph are driven to a hotel while Tom and Kate will stay in a spare apartment of Jules’s. Tom and Kate make love. Berhetzel arrives in the Swiss Alps at the place where he is supposed to be buried. There, a police officer tells him that a French government team were here last week looking for Berhetzel’s grave and discovered that he wasn’t there. Berhetzel kills the police officer with his death ray and finds the business card of Jean there.

    In Paris scouting for the assassination of the president, Berhetzel is inside an apartment he rents researching Jean. Berhetzel discovers where Jean lives. He ambushes Jean and an associate and forces them inside Jean’s home with a gun on them. Inside, he demands answers when Jean's associate grabs a hidden shotgun and fires, hitting Berhetzel. But he gets back up, furious, and shoots Jean and Jean's associate dead and sets the place on fire. Later at the scene, Jules immediately knows it was Berhetzel as the bullets used date back to WWII and are German. He tells the gang.

    Berhetzel, nursing a gunshot wound in his side, meets with the courier to collect the DNA samples of the president. Later, he watches the G8 summit in progress waiting for a clear shot. The French president appears beside the US president and Berhetzel fires the device but it appears to miss and the secret service and French agents rush the presidents to cover. Berhetzel walks away among the panic, keeping his head down, frustrated.

    Kate and Tom, returning home from a date, learn that the French finance minister was assassinated. They figure it was an attack by Berhetzel who had been intending on hitting the French president. In his apartment, Berhetzel realizes that his device did not make an error: the president’s son who the sample is from is not the president’s son after all but is the son of the finance minister. Berhetzel looks at photos of the two together and sees the resemblance. He flies to Argentina and returns to the compound.

    Jean, who has been in a coma since being shot by Berhetzel, wakes up and confirms that it was Berhetzel who shot him. Jules gathers Tom, Kate, and Joseph. He informs them that a substance was found in Jean’s blood which is from a certain mushroom found in the Amazon. So the gang must fly there with French special operatives to attempt to locate Berhetzel and his death ray weapon. Jules’s Pasteur Institute wants the gang to bring the weapon back to France so that it can become a tool for good rather than evil.

    The gang arrives in the Amazon and collects fungi samples. One of Berhetzel’s men approaches them and offers them passage to the compound of “Dr. Von Braun,” a scientist working in the jungle. Not realizing that Von Braun is Berhetzel, they accept the invitation and travel there by boat. Berhetzel meets them as they arrive, expertly disguising his true identity. He shows them around and gives them something to drink. He has drugged them. They collapse to the ground and Berhetzel reveals his true identity and says that ants with acidic bites will be feasting on them soon. He ties them up and leaves them. A rat chews the ropes around Joseph’s hands and feet and Joseph believes it was his grandfather. He frees Kate and Tom. They build a makeshift raft and escape down the river at night.

    Berhetzel and his minions reside in Alabama where Berhetzel is training mercenaries to do his bidding. He plans to kill the entire US congress and president and top generals and take over, throwing the world into chaos by threatening to use the nation’s nuclear arsenal.

    The day of the Destruction of the US arrives and Berhetzel meets with Nazi comrades. They remove their Nazi jewelry and other identification, cover up tattoos, then travel to the inauguration of the new US president. They don’t know that Berhetzel intends that they will get caught and only he will get away—sacrificial lambs. At the inauguration, one of Berhetzel’s minions kills many people in the crowd with the death ray before running away, but Kate sees him. Berhetzel decides that the snowy weather is too poor to launch the attack and instead he watches it unfold on TV in the hotel room. He is angry to learn through the news that the president is safe but many audience members are dead—the snow obviously had blocked the ray’s range.

    Brad and Jean recognize Berhetzel near the hotel but he gets away, disappearing into the snow. But Joseph thinks he can track him. He and Jean pursue. They catch him and Joseph shoots an arrow from a bow through Berhetzel’s throat, killing him.

    Months later, it’s a beautiful July day—Bastille Day—and Kate and Tom get married in Paris in Jean’s garden courtyard.

    About The Author

    Pierce Roberts is a practicing veterinarian and author of sci-fi thrillers that span generations and continents.