The phrase separated at birth takes on a terrifying new meaning in this riveting medical thriller from the author of Neanderthal. When tabloid journalist Jude Harley and a distraught young man known only as Skyler meet on the streets of New York City, they could be identical twins--except that Skyler is a few years younger and fitter than the 30-year-old Jude. And when Skyler sees that Jude's girlfriend, Dr. Elizabeth "Tizzie" Tierney, is a dead ringer for Julia, his own lost love, he--and we--know that something very spooky is going on. It turns out to be a case of "send in the clones": they were all part of a bizarre experiment when they were kids, and now they're up to their doppelgangers in a deadly confrontation with scientists and politicians who want to keep the whole thing quiet.
John Darnton knows how to make science accessible--he masterfully describes the intricate details of DNA and fertilized egg-splitting. He also knows how to keep the action moving at warp speed--racing from the tiny island off the Georgia coast where Skyler and his fellow clones were raised to the streets of New York and Washington, D.C., where seeing double can be terminal. --Dick Adler
From Publishers Weekly
The author of Neanderthal returns with a second science-drenched thriller that's as au courant as you'd expect from a veteran New York Times man (Darnton is that paper's cultural news editor). The novel is timely because it concerns human cloning; unfortunately, its plot is every bit as contrived as that scientific sleight of hand. Initially, the narrative follows two young men separately: Skyler lives on an isolated island off Georgia, on an estate called the Lab, where he has been raised according to strict dictates (enforced by hulking Orderlies) along with other boys and girls. Occasionally, a kid is taken away for medical work, or turns up dead. Now Skyler finds his girlfriend, Julia, eviscerated in the Lab's operating room, and escapes the island. At the same time, Jude Harley, a Manhattan tabloid reporter, is assigned a piece on identical twins. His main interview subjectAand future bedmateAis twin-researcher Tizzie Tierney. Down South, meanwhile, Skyler sees a photo of Jude, and tracks him down. Legwork and labwork point to Skyler being Jude's clone; Julia, it seems, was Tizzie's clone. But how, and why? Jude, Skyler and Tizzie undertake a cross-country hunt for clues, all the while hunted in turn not only by the Orderlies but by a renegade FBI faction involved in the grand conspiracy behind all the fuss. Darnton is a prize-winning reporter (including a Pulitzer), and that expertise shows in his careful employment of scientific detail about twins and cloning. His novelist's skills are less honed. The story is driven not by character, but by plot, which has a strung-out feel, featuring one chase or killing or crisis after another. Darnton's prose is impeccable but flat, while the book's climax, involving a mad doctor, is howlingly melodramatic. This novel may reflect today's news, but Ira Levin wrote a much snappier cloning thriller, The Boys from Brazil, more than 20 years ago.
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