Kevin Guilfoile






Alfred A. Knopf, March 2005
Reviewed By Joy Calderwood

Psychological Suspense

A scientist uses DNA from the scene of his daughter’s murder to clone her killer. His plan is to watch the little boy as he grows up, so that when Justin is old enough, Dr. Moore will be able to look in his face and see Anna Kat’s murderer.

That is all I will say about the plot of CAST OF SHADOWS. I want you to be able to follow this extraordinarily challenging and satisfying story without any preparation. Instead, I will tell you a little about the participants. CAST OF SHADOWS has not only a cutting edge premise but a voice perfectly tuned to its main characters.

The time:

Somewhere around the day after tomorrow. There are only two differences between then and now. 1) In the US, cloning humans is legal; and 2) the prevalent computer game is Shadow World. After reading author Kevin Guilfoile’s concept, someone is no doubt working now to program a version of Shadow World for the internet.

The people:

Dr. Davis Moore loves his daughter above anything else, even his work. He clones human fetuses in a fertility clinic, giving children to parents whose genetic makeup is flawed enough that they shouldn’t have children of their own.

Jackie Moore, once cheerful and outgoing, is too mentally unstable for the path her life takes once her daughter is murdered.

Justin Finn, a little boy cloned from a sadistic killer, is born to be an instrument of justice. How much of his original’s evil is genetic? Has Dr. Moore loosed another monster on the world?

Martha Finn unsuspectingly bore Justin from her own body. She has no idea of the complications that will dominate her life as others play out their plans for her son.

Dr. Joan Burton is drawn against her will, by her love for Dr. Moore, to do things she could never have seen herself doing.

Sally Barwick is dedicated to finding and exposing truths. It is her way of wrestling with moral ambiguity. Inside herself she can find love, but can even necessity help her find courage?

And not one, but two serial killers: Samuel Coyne, a high powered attorney who loves giving women pain; and assassin Mickey Fanning, a terrorist dedicated to spreading God’s word – that is, he eliminates the practitioners of cloning.
Author Kevin Guilfoile struck life into these and other characters and set them in motion, and the rest is inevitable. Inevitable, not predictable. Events bring surprise after surprise, right up to the last paragraph. And yet in another way they’re not surprising at all. Being who they are, what else could these characters do? They can examine their actions, with wonder or horror or pleasure, but it is up to us to make the choices. They have none.

You won’t have to worry about protecting yourself from distractions when you settle in to read CAST OF SHADOWS. The difficulty will be in dragging your mind away from it. When I had to be doing something else, I thought impatiently about getting back to CAST OF SHADOWS – one of my two favorite reads so far this year.

June 2005 Review


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