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Cast of Shadows: A Novel Paperback – May 23, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 319 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (May 23, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400078261
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400078264
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,288,426 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Guilfoile's engrossing debut novel takes a high-concept look at the age-old but still provocative question of nature vs. nurture. The story centers on Chicago fertility doctor Davis Moore, a pioneer in the field of cloning, whose teenage daughter, Anna Kat, is raped and murdered. When no leads pan out, a desperate Moore secretly uses the killer's DNA to clone him, with the unsuspecting aid of a client couple, so that one day he'll be able to identify the killer by his resemblance to the clone. The novel spins out over more than two decades, following the rocky development of the cloned boy, Justin Finn (whose parents know nothing of his potentially problematic DNA), Moore's monitoring of the young man and Moore's own complicated life. Though nominally a thriller, the book's jolts and tension are driven by character rather than plot, with the unpredictability of Moore, Justin and two other characters keeping the reader constantly off balance. Anna Kat's killer remains an active menace and is eerily close to the Finn family, and the novel also offers a nuanced and chillingly believable portrait of a religious zealot and terrorist, Mickey the Gerund, who racks up a lot of abortion clinic bombings and doctor kills over the years. Guilefoile displays a deep interest in his characters (backstories for all abound), and if his plot is a bit of a patchwork, the novel as a whole is rich and involving.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

It is very, very intriguing and entertaining.
C. D. Malum
The complex of stories in Guilfoile's novel adds up to a suspenseful, tightly-plotted book.
Debra Hamel
Well, let me try and explain how wrong I was.
Scott Tallarida

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on March 19, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I thought I was going to dislike CAST OF SHADOWS. The premise seemed flimsy at best. The daughter of a physician is murdered. The physician, a pioneer in the field of reproductive cloning, is able to obtain the DNA of her murderer and engineers his cloning for the purpose of identifying the killer. Yawn. It sounded vaguely like a plot that Michael Crichton would have rejected, and wisely so, sometime back in the 1980s. And the author, Kevin Guilfoile, was stuck in my memory bank as a kind of self-styled humorist whose work had left me with the vague impression of someone who is clever but not smart. I accordingly cracked the binding of CAST OF SHADOWS with the thought that I could try it for an hour or so and then leave it unread.

Well, I didn't have to get very deeply at all into CAST OF SHADOWS before I realized that this debut novel is quite like the house of one of the characters in the story: much, much bigger on the inside than it looks from the outside, full of twists and turns and corners and surprises. The aforementioned physician, Davis Moore, is a sympathetic character --- his teenage daughter is murdered --- but he's not entirely a likeable guy, kind of sanctimonious, full of self-justification, and content to follow rules until he has a reason to break them. Moore uses his medical practice as a vehicle to exact revenge. One can understand the concept of revenge, especially in a case like this, but there isn't exactly full disclosure exercised here with respect to Moore's patient or to the resulting life in being, at least not initially. Moore keeps track of Justin Finn, the cloned child. And yes, indeed, he comes to resemble someone very, very twisted.

But this is more than a tale of rough judgment and exacted revenge.
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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Paul Frandano on July 30, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I'm a sucker for certain types of commercial bait - a review that compares a pop record favorably to a transitional Beatles record like "Revolver" or "Sgt. Pepper's," or a jazz record to "Kind of Blue" or "Saxophone Colossus," or a novelist to "Faulkner" or "Roth." What got me on to Kevin Guilfoile's Cast of Shadows was a reviewer's approving nod to "this modern-day Frankenstein tale" - a line that summoned up Ur-resonances within me that have jangled through my neural system since first fired in a movie theater 50 years ago. (That comparison, it turns out, was apparently concocted by a Knopf publicist and eagerly grabbed up by several hook-hungry, imagination-deprived book "critics.")

So that's how I have the book in my hands.

For the first 100 pages or so, I found the story of fertility specialist Davis Moore, his murdered daughter, his slipping marriage and slow-fuse relationship with an attractive female colleague, and his hope-against-hope plan to clone his daughter's murderer slow going but plausible, with cloning, its politics, and its ethical and religious implications interestingly evoked and explored. Strangely, as the pace picked up and little Justin Finn's development is chronicled, the book began gliding into implausibility - in Guilfoile's near-future Chicago, pace and plausibility seem inversely related. There were more key coincidences than a Dickens novel, more than a fair share of character-motivation issues, and an epic 20-year time span that seems disproportionate to the book's preoccupations, which, although weighty, are distinctly less than epic. This is, at bottom, a futuristic murder mystery.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By K. Schwartz on March 28, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I'm a fan of Kevin Guilfoile's humor work for McSweeney's and honestly didn't know what to expect when picking up his first novel. He keeps it very close to the vest in the first third of the book and just reports the events as they occur (and very compelling events they are...) and I found myself wondering when we would start seeing the wonderfully twisted phrases and incredible wit that I was used to hearing from Guilfoile.

Later in the book when the action has really heated up I suddenly took notice that all of the style I had expected was showing up clearly in every paragraph - wonderful thoughts and very subtle asides on the nature of difficult subjects - so carefully placed in the story as to blend in completely. A mature approach from someone who's got the smarts to show off if he wants to.

Of course the story itself is a tour de force and like a good indi movie I couldn't wait until my wife finished it so I could test out some of my theories on several character's motivations and ultimate fates.

I think this is a great debut and can't wait to see what comes next.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Michael Thal on June 21, 2009
Format: Paperback
We show the parts of ourselves that we want the world to see. The secrets are hidden behind a façade. Our shadow lives are the private lives we share with few. Such is the premise of Kevin Guilfoile's debut novel, Cast of Shadows.

The setting of this psychological thriller is in the near future when human cloning is legal. The cast of characters includes Dr. Davis Moore, a Chicago fertility doctor specializing in reproductive cloning and his teenage daughter, Anna Kat. Sam Coyne is a successful young Chicago lawyer. Justin Finn is a clone and Martha Finn his mother. Mickey the Gerund is a religious fanatic doing the Lord's work for The Hands of God. And Sally Barwick is the detective who unravels secrets.

After Anna Kat's brutal rape and murder, Dr. Moore breaks the law and creates a clone from evidence found at the crime scene. The book progresses around the fate of this young boy, Justin Finn, and lives of the people affected by the two crimes. Undercover, Moore observes his creation, waiting for the day his daughter's killer's face will become realized.

But things aren't what they seem. Through an intricately woven original plot Guilfoile creates a fast paced gripping thriller that keeps the reader guessing up until the final shattering pages. This is a must read.
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