The best books about mad scientists

1 authors have picked their favorite books about mad scientists and why they recommend each book.

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The Boys from Brazil

By Ira Levin,

Book cover of The Boys from Brazil: A Novel

Doctor Josef Mengele, the worst of the mad scientists, is in hiding after the war but planning a comeback, heading a secret project to genetically reincarnate Hitler. The most frightening part about his plan to bring back the Nazi Fuhrer is the degree of scientific rigor in the biology and psychology underlying the design.


Who am I?

Christopher Rankin is an author, the host of the Vanadium podcast on YouTube, and a scientist in the field of renewable materials. He was awarded a PhD in materials science from the University of Pennsylvania and holds several patents. A lifelong lover of science, Rankin hopes to encourage greater public interest and a broader understanding of technical subjects.


I wrote...

Ann Marie's Asylum (Master and Apprentice Book 1)

By Christopher Rankin,

Book cover of Ann Marie's Asylum (Master and Apprentice Book 1)

What is my book about?

Ann Marie has just earned her Ph.D. in chemistry at age sixteen when she receives a mysterious and lucrative job offer. The new position at the infamous Asylum Corporation takes the young chemist and her alcoholic mother from their working-class Philadelphia neighborhood to coastal California. 

She becomes fascinated with her new boss, Dade Harkenrider, a famed but reclusive scientist, labelled Dr. Death by internet conspiracy theorists and rumored to be involved in witchcraft and murder. As Ann Marie grows closer to her new mentor, a sinister plot by a secretive coven is unfolding in the city. This monstrous force is stealing pets and children in an effort to breathe life into an ancient and terrifying evil.

Type and Cross

By J.L. DeLozier,

Book cover of Type and Cross

This book, in this day and age, might actually hit a little too close to home, but it is worthy of a read anyway. Delozier writes a thrilling tale about a mad scientist that has created a deadly virus that could wipe out half the population. It's up to psychologist and empath Dr. Persephone Smith to track him down and stop him. Type and Cross, Delozier's debut novel, is a medical thriller that intermixes just enough medical terminology to make the premise sound plausible without losing the reader. Delozier's writing isn't overburdened by over-embellished description or unwieldy dialog which makes the book a pleasure to read.

Unlike your traditional trilogy, the second book in the series acts as an origin story of sorts, while the third wraps up the storyline from this book.


Who am I?

I fell in love with the mystery genre at a young age, starting with Donald J. Sobol's Encyclopedia Brown series. It didn't take long to graduate to the likes of Sherlock Holmes, particularly once PBS began broadcasting the series with Jeremy Brett in the titular role. Over the years, my passion for mystery and suspense stories has branched out into numerous sub-genres and a variety of classics from such superb authors like Agatha Christie, Leslie Charteris, P. D. James, and Charles Todd. As much as I enjoy individual mystery and suspense novels, I enjoy even more a series with a cast of characters that I can follow from book to book. 


I wrote...

Dead Air: A Novel of Suspense

By Michael Bradley,

Book cover of Dead Air: A Novel of Suspense

What is my book about?

Three can keep a secret, but only if two are dead. No one knows that better than Kaitlyn Ashe, who has been running from a childhood secret her whole life. Until now. Crowned the top-rated radio DJ in Philadelphia, she is finally ready to settle down with her lawyer fiancée and a whole new set of friends who know nothing about her past. When she suddenly receives anonymous letters threatening her, she realizes that someone out there knows. But who? Isn’t her secret buried with the dead? When the threats reveal murderous intent, Kaitlyn has no choice but to trust Detective Rodney Shapiro as her life spirals toward a reunion in the one place she’d hoped to never visit again: The Shallows.

Winner of the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards and the 2020 Foreword INDIES Awards, Dead Air weaves a suspenseful tale of past misdeeds and present murderous instincts as Kaitlyn plays a game of cat and mouse with a mysterious killer who will stop at nothing to get revenge.

Altered States

By Paddy Chayefsky,

Book cover of Altered States: A Novel

This story of a scientist becoming obsessed with the psychedelic world was part of the inspiration for writing Ann Marie’s Asylum. The sensory deprivation tank, the electrodes to the head, and the hallucinogenic potion made from exotic jungle plants were bits that just had to make it into one of my books. 


Who am I?

Christopher Rankin is an author, the host of the Vanadium podcast on YouTube, and a scientist in the field of renewable materials. He was awarded a PhD in materials science from the University of Pennsylvania and holds several patents. A lifelong lover of science, Rankin hopes to encourage greater public interest and a broader understanding of technical subjects.


I wrote...

Ann Marie's Asylum (Master and Apprentice Book 1)

By Christopher Rankin,

Book cover of Ann Marie's Asylum (Master and Apprentice Book 1)

What is my book about?

Ann Marie has just earned her Ph.D. in chemistry at age sixteen when she receives a mysterious and lucrative job offer. The new position at the infamous Asylum Corporation takes the young chemist and her alcoholic mother from their working-class Philadelphia neighborhood to coastal California. 

She becomes fascinated with her new boss, Dade Harkenrider, a famed but reclusive scientist, labelled Dr. Death by internet conspiracy theorists and rumored to be involved in witchcraft and murder. As Ann Marie grows closer to her new mentor, a sinister plot by a secretive coven is unfolding in the city. This monstrous force is stealing pets and children in an effort to breathe life into an ancient and terrifying evil.

The Mysterious Benedict Society

By Trenton Lee Stewart, Carson Ellis (illustrator),

Book cover of The Mysterious Benedict Society

This book is different from the rest on the list in a few ways. It doesn’t transport the characters to new, magical realms. There are no whimsical beasts or mystical creatures. And, perhaps most significantly, I read this one as a “grown-up.” I had the honor of reading this book aloud to my children, along with its sequels, over the course of several months. My kids were delighted by these bright, young protagonists who, using their wits, imagination, and moral compass, save their loved ones from a devious villain intent on obliterating individuality. I fell in love with these characters, just as my children did. And when we read the final page of the final chapter of the final book, my daughter burst into tears. Not because the story was sad, but because spending time with these imaginary people had been a real experience. 

Good stories take us to other…


Who am I?

Wade Bradford is the author of several picture books, including There’s a Dinosaur on the 13th Floor and Papa Bear’s Page Fright. He has written over forty plays for young performers, and one middle-grade novel: Camp Omigosh


I wrote...

Papa Bear's Page Fright

By Wade Bradford,

Book cover of Papa Bear's Page Fright

What is my book about?

This is the story of a little girl named Goldilocks. Well, that's what it's supposed to be, but there's a problem. When Papa Bear discovers he's inside of a book and there are readers out there looking at him, he gets very nervous and forgets his lines. Poor Papa Bear... he has Page Fright! Can Mama Bear, Baby Bear, and Goldilocks help him find the courage to remember his lines and finish the story?

The Scientist

By John C. Lilly,

Book cover of The Scientist: A Metaphysical Autobiography

John Lilly, a Caltech and University of Pennsylvania trained doctor who also probed the murkiest waters of the psychedelic experience, was the inspiration for Dade Harkenrider in my book, Ann Marie’s Asylum. Lilly was a genius, who crossed over the edge more than once.


Who am I?

Christopher Rankin is an author, the host of the Vanadium podcast on YouTube, and a scientist in the field of renewable materials. He was awarded a PhD in materials science from the University of Pennsylvania and holds several patents. A lifelong lover of science, Rankin hopes to encourage greater public interest and a broader understanding of technical subjects.


I wrote...

Ann Marie's Asylum (Master and Apprentice Book 1)

By Christopher Rankin,

Book cover of Ann Marie's Asylum (Master and Apprentice Book 1)

What is my book about?

Ann Marie has just earned her Ph.D. in chemistry at age sixteen when she receives a mysterious and lucrative job offer. The new position at the infamous Asylum Corporation takes the young chemist and her alcoholic mother from their working-class Philadelphia neighborhood to coastal California. 

She becomes fascinated with her new boss, Dade Harkenrider, a famed but reclusive scientist, labelled Dr. Death by internet conspiracy theorists and rumored to be involved in witchcraft and murder. As Ann Marie grows closer to her new mentor, a sinister plot by a secretive coven is unfolding in the city. This monstrous force is stealing pets and children in an effort to breathe life into an ancient and terrifying evil.

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