Mermaid Project was a pleasant surprise. Set in the late 21st century, in a world ravaged by war and environmental catastrophe, it tells the story of Romane Pennac, an inspector in the Paris police force. The world has changed and white people are now a minority in many places- including Paris. Romane therefore experiences racism and dismissiveness from her colleagues as Europe and the United States have declined amidst dwindling resources and poor decisions. So it's against this backdrop that we begin our tale.
Romane is chosen to accompany a special agent to New York to investigate a company called Algapower, a leader in genetic engineering and methane production. Methane derived from algae is a big deal now with the decline of fossil fuels, and Romane's brother happens to work there as a scientist, which explains her inclusion in the investigation. The ostensible reason for their trip to New York is a missing body that may or may not be simply a morgue error, but there's a connection to the company in that the family of the deceased received a letter telling them to see Romane.
It's not clear why someone would send such a letter, but given that her brother works there and the fact that the special services want to investigate Algapower anyway, Romane finds herself on the case. Her partner El Malik is a gruff, no- nonsense sort but they soon find themselves working well together, and Romane soon learns that there is more to Algapower than meets the eye. I love stories like this that extrapolate on current trends and explore near- future possibilities. Genetic engineering, environmental decay and a tantalizing mystery all add up to a pretty entertaining story.