23 February 2008

WICKER (aka CAST OF SHADOWS), Kevin Guilfoile

How far would you go to look into the face of your daughter's murderer?

Dr. Davis Moore does controversial work at a clinic, providing the childless with children, not through in vitro but by cloning from anonymous DNA. There are strict codes governing the procedure, including that the person from whom the DNA is taken must be dead.

When his teenage daughter is raped and murdered, Davis uses the semen left in her body as the genetic basis of a cloned baby. He hopes that when the baby grows up he will somehow be able to use him to identify his daughter's murderer.

The people who do this work are being targetted by an organisation called the Hand of God, that employs a killer to see that high profile pro-cloners and scientists are killed. Although these pressures, together with the death of his daughter, lead to Moore retiring from active practice, he follows the growth of Justin, the baby cloned from the rapists' semen, with interest, and attempts to track the rapist down.

Not only is this a really creepy idea but the story raises some big issues about cloning - is the cloned baby the absolute identical twin of the person whose DNA it was cloned on? For example, will the murderer whose DNA was used also have the distinctive birthmark the baby has? Conversely, does genetic make up determine how you think, what you become in life? Will the baby grow up to be a murderer? If the baby is cloned from adult DNA will the baby have an adult or a child mind? Will the child feel connected to the adult?

I didn't "see" the ending of this novel coming. There are things revealed in the final 50 pages that you won't predict, so if you find it a bit of a long read like I did, hang in there!

This is another one of those books with a changed name. I think WICKER was probably for the UK market, but I think CAST OF SHADOWS was really a more appropriate and interesting title.

This book has won a couple of awards too - A CHICAGO TRIBUNE and KANSAS CITY STAR BEST BOOK of 2005, and The Best First Novel of 2005 in the Love Is Murder Readers' Choice Poll - and was a finalist in the 2005 Great Lakes Book Awards.

My rating 4.5

1 comment:

Maxine Clarke said...

Yikes, strong stuff! I was a bit put off it but as I read your review I found myself drawn in despite myself -- and I see you give it a good rating. I'll seriously consider it. I wonder if the author has any scientific background?


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