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The Double Human Hardcover – June 8, 2010
This month's Book With Buzz: "Stranger in the House" by Shari Lapena
In this neighborhood, danger lies close to home. A thriller packed full of secrets and a twisty story that never stops - from the bestselling author of "The Couple Next Door." See more
From Publishers Weekly
This enticing sequel to 2009's The Human Disguise blends elements of post-apocalyptic science fiction and police procedural thrillers in a near-future Miami that has been turned into a lawless "Quarantine Zone" by numerous terrorist attacks, rapid climate change, and disease. While tracking down a serial killer nicknamed "the Vampire", intrepid detective Tom Wilner meets and becomes emotionally entangled with a philanthropic teacher who lives and works in the quarantined area. As their relationship grows, both become unknowing targets of the madman. Barely-explored subplots related to an approaching space ship and the godlike humanoids already living on earth will have readers anxiously awaiting the next installment of this audaciously entertaining SF series.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
In the near future, the U.S., its resources stretched thin by multiple foreign wars and homegrown political upheavals, is nearing full-scale anarchy. In Florida, the Miami Quarantine Zone is essentially a prisonlike wasteland, populated by the scum of society. Tom Wilner, a police detective, catches a murder case, but he soon realizes it's more than that: there's a serial killer at large, and to catch him, Tom will need to go into Miami. And if that's not scary enough, consider this: the killer is not human—he's the undead. This follow-up to The Human Disguise (2009) is a sure-footed and imaginative mixture of post-apocalyptic and vampire themes. Wilner, the veteran cop, is a solid lead—he's the reader's anchor, a familiar character in an unfamiliar world—and the author packs the novel with plenty of thrills and chills. The novel should appeal to fans of post-apocalyptic or near-future science fiction, horror stories with a vampire slant, and noir crime fiction (the story might be fantastic, but the author mostly writes it like a straight crime drama). --David Pitt
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Top customer reviews
An engaging sequel that melds post-apocalypticstyle science fiction with a serial-killer thriller.
O'Neal, who has a real-life background in law enforcement (and who has written several crime novels under the name James O. Born, including 2008's Burn Zone ), revisits the violent, war-ravaged world of his novel The Human Disguise (2009). His latest is a variation on the serial-killer police procedural. Tom Wilner, a Unified Police Force detective from just outside the deadly Miami Quarantine Zone, is on the trail of a killer who murders people with a single puncture wound to the neck--an M.O. that's earned the killer the nickname "The Vampire." As Wilner and his partner, Steve Besslia, investigate, they find that the killer's been at it for some 50 years, and is stronger and faster than a normal person--and Wilner realizes that the killer may not even be human at all. O'Neal stages his tense action scenes with style and verve, and the sections that delve into the killer's mind are also chilling and effective. The author's world-building is also consistently well-thought-out, and he uses his setting's grim atmosphere to create a truly gritty and disconcertingly lawless society.
Once again, a worthwhile amalgam of the science-fiction and mystery genres.
Agent: Meg Ruley/Jane Rotrosen Literary Agency
The author has clearly worked very hard on his setting, which involves a quarantined portion of south Florida and a potpourri of right-wing bogeymen: global cooling, Hugo Chavez (here, "The Hitler of South America") Central American jihadists, etc. But he hasn't bothered to convey it in a plausible way. Instead, people drop jarring explanatory notes into conversations, and muse to themselves about the history of the region at the slightest opportunity:
"This was his first serial case. The other murders he had investigated involved single or gang killings. There hadn't been a report of a serial killer in Florida since the first of the Islamic terror attacks in Miami. The added law enforcement after the tanker bomb that took out three square blocks in the center of Miami and killed three thousand scared away a lot of the criminals. Then, when the anthrax was blown through the Dadeland Mall's air-conditioning and caused sixty-five hundred people to die, the army was sent in. After the mass migration and fear of the bioplague, it was easier just to abandon the southern tip of Florida rather than to save it."
The story progresses awkwardly. Although ostensibly a procedural, the police work is completely incidental to the revelation of the mysteries, and no detective discovers anything except by chance. The plot demands that the protagonist not recognize the serial killer he fought with during an extensive sequence at the beginning of the novel, and then later demands that he recognize him in a picture taken shortly after that fight. The killer is victim to a series of cringe-worthy coincidences that derail his attempts to murder his adversary and end the pursuit; in the span of a few chapters, there are two scenes in which he is about to strike his target, only to be foiled by the lucky arrival of the same policeman.
There's an extensive side-plot about immortals whose existence is a closely-held secret, except that the only characters who aren't in on it are quickly informed of the details by one of the very same immortals.
This is an embarrassingly bad book. Avoid.
But author O'Neal puts a lot of effort into describing the Florida environment in this book - to the detriment of character development and plot.
Note - you'll get a lot more out of this book if you read "The Human Disguise." But that won't answer all your questions concerning this offering.
This story starts four months after the events in the previous novel. Detective Tom Wilner is back - chasing after a serial killer called "The Vampire." Sounds interesting? It wasn't. A disjointed narrative, editing issues (again), dangling plot ideas - all mix together to produce a hodgepodge of a book. Every time I started getting interested in the story, it took off on another tangent and many times didn't find its way back. There is the spaceship on its way to Earth introduced in the first book and never developed any further. There is the suddenly serious romance of Wilner. And the dogs. I really wanted more on the dogs. And not much on the Simolits and Hallecks this go round.
This was disappointing enough after the first book that I won't bother with any additional books in the series. Too bad. Some strong, interesting ideas that just didn't work out.
Most recent customer reviews
The Human Disguise was the first book in this series. This too is a cop book set in a near, possible future.Read more