Skeptic

Holden Scott, Author
Holden Scott, Author St. Martin's Press $24.95 (322p) ISBN 978-0-312-19334-8
Reviewed on: 03/01/1999
Release date: 03/01/1999
Mass Market Paperbound - 389 pages - 978-0-312-96928-8
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An intriguing, high-flown scientific thesis that links new knowledge of viruses with extrasensory capabilities and unearthly communication with the dead propels Scott's promising debut novel. In the virology research lab of Boston's Metro Hospital, ambitious Ph.D. candidate Teri Pace is confirming a startling discovery about the transfer of information-bearing DNA from one living organism to another while, at the same time, on nearby Beacon Street, Mike Ballantine, M.D., chief of medicine at Metro, is riding in an ambulance in the inauguration parade behind the limo of his best friend, who has just been reelected Massachusetts governor. To his horror, Mike witnesses the governor's sudden and mysterious demise: he is vaporized by a bomb of unaccountable force. Shortly afterward, Mike starts seeing ghosts. Sexy Taiwanese-born CIA agent Amber Chen, who is shadowing spectral Chinese assassin Sheshen, joins Mike in trying to unravel the mystery of the malevolent Chinese Triad's involvement in these mysterious events. Arcane Eastern mysticism, space-age biogenetic research and murder are interwoven in a tapestry of shady money, international politics and star-crossed romance as Mike and Amber try to prevent the theft of the secret of human memory-transfer in a diabolical (if never quite clear) plan to control the world. For much of the narrative, Scott's simple action-driven prose is effective, offering bold characterization and high-concept biomedical thrills. In the denouement, however, the dialogue and exposition rapidly disintegrate, and the heretofore intricate, well-spun tale crosses over into more inconsistent, overwrought pulp territory. Still, this is an auspicious debut. Author tour. (Mar.) FYI: A '91 graduate of Harvard, Scott was inspired to write this novel by scientific research gleaned from Jack McConnell, M.D., co-founder of the Institute for Genomic Research and of the Human Genome Project.
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