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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

'Cast of Shadows' reviewed in New York Times

From The New York Times:

The chief ingredients of Kevin Guilfoile's creepy new thriller are the same ones Michael Crichton has used to fashion a hugely successful and lucrative career as a popular novelist: a hot-button social topic combined with lots of science talk (to make readers feel they aren't reading just a potboiler but something relevant and informative); lots of scary chase scenes and/or cliffhanging chapter breaks (to make sure the story is bought by Hollywood); and some very villainous villains and very virtuous victims (to make certain the page-flipping airplane reader knows whom to root against). What's striking about "Cast of Shadows" is that Mr. Guilfoile, in his first outing as a novelist, does all this with a lot more panache than Mr. Crichton has demonstrated in many years. His story occasionally stumbles into the clich├ęs thrillers are prone to: portentous, hyperventilated foreshadowing; dreary school-room talk of good and evil; and a supporting cast made up of standard-issue cops, private detectives and long-suffering spouses. But Mr. Guilfoile's tricky, high-concept plot continually subverts and plays with the reader's expectations. The inspiration for that plot comes from the mother of all horror stories: Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein." In that novel a student named Frankenstein brings to life a monster made from body parts stolen from graveyards and dissecting rooms. After being rejected as a freak by the rest of society, the monster goes on a bloody rampage, wreaking revenge on his creator, who had dared usurp God's role as creator. The Frankenstein role in "Cast of Shadows" is taken by a workaholic doctor named Davis Moore, who specializes in cloning. The novel takes place in the not so distant future when human cloning has become a feasible if controversial method of reproduction; like abortion today, cloning draws the ire of certain religious groups, including a handful of vigilantes intent on using violence to publicize their protest. Chief among these vigilantes, we're told, is a man known as Mickey the Gerund, who has killed a growing list of fertility doctors and who has made an unsuccessful effort to assassinate Davis.

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