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Cast of Shadows

A book by Kevin Guilfoile

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Character-driven thriller explores cloning

  • Apr 19, 2005
Until the brutal rape and murder of his 18-year-old daughter, Dr. Davis Moore has a comfortable and successful life as cloning specialist at his own fertility clinic.

While still controversial in first-novelist Guilfoile's America, legal human cloning has taken its place alongside in vitro. Strict rules require anonymous donors and forbid the cloning of a living person. However, given the nature of cloning, these rules seem made to be broken. Surely some eccentric billionaire will want a chance to bring himself (or herself) up properly. But that's not quite the twist Guilfoile takes in his complex and absorbing debut thriller.

When the police are unable to discover his daughter's killer, Dr. Moore collects her effects and discovers a sample of the rapist's sperm inadvertently included. Before his rage has fully subsided, a plan has formed. He will create a clone from this sample and look into the face of his daughter's killer. While the prospect of foisting such a biological legacy on unsuspecting parents pales beside the prospect of actually creating this human being for this purpose, Moore, heretofore no monster, avidly tracks the child's rocky progress through his childhood years.

Meanwhile, a subplot follows the exploits of Mickey the Gerund, a religious nut who indulges his murderous zeal by killing cloning doctors and abortion clinicians. And later in the novel a computer game - a mirror version of the real world - Shadowland, enters the story as a woman police detective and Justin Finn, the cloned boy, team up to search for a real (and shadow) serial killer.

While the Shadowland echo of reality introduces a note of enjoyably mind-bending confusion, the story, from the beginning, hums with tension, and carries an aura of moving inexorably toward cataclysm. Guilfoile's approach to the implicit questions of nature versus nurture, and free will versus biological destiny is as playful as it is thoughtful.

A talented writer, Guilfoile has produced a character-driven plot in which human choices drive the action, accident and misunderstanding play crucial roles, and the surprise ending carries a powerful sting.

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review by . January 18, 2012
At a time in the near future, human cloning is legal and Dr. Davis Moore is a fertility doctor specializing in reproductive cloning.      His daughter, AK, is raped and murdered but the killer isn't known. When Moore picks up his daughter's belongings from the police, there is a DNA sample from the killer. With no other way to catch the killer, he uses that DNA to clone a child who will grow up to be the exact replica of the killer.      In a parallel …
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Lynn Harnett ()
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I love to read, always have, and have been writing reviews for more years than I care to say. Early on, i realized there are more books than there is time to read, so I read only books I like and mostly … more
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About this book


Set in a not too distant future after human cloning is legalized, this debut thriller is a disquieting pseudo-scientific meditation on what happens when the teenage daughter of a leading fertility specialist is brutally murdered and her father uses his professional skills and a bit of DNA extracted from the death scene to create a copy of her killer. Unlucky, unlikely Justin Finn is the result of Dr. Davis Moore's faith that one day he’ll look into the eyes and soul of the man who raped and strangled Anna Kat and understand what drove him to do it. His plan destroys his marriage, compromises his professional ethics, and threatens his own life, but all these complications pale next to the repercussion his efforts to clone Anna Kat's murderer have on the young man whose future is as predestined as his origins. Despite the shades of Robin Cook that hover over this intricately woven and unsettling mystery, Guilfoile's pacing is solid, his characterizations well drawn, and his own future as a writer assured.--Jane Adams
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ISBN-10: 1400043085
ISBN-13: 978-1400043088
Author: Kevin Guilfoile
Publisher: Knopf

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