Release date: 07/01/2001
From the Machiavellian imagination of a physician/author of three paperback-original medical thrillers (The Procedure, etc.) comes this debut hardcover, mirroring today's headlines with its story of a world at the mercy of malevolent biogenetic engineers. Unfortunately, however, melodramatic, juvenile comic-book characterization, artless overwriting and distracting, tedious repetition curse the novel from page one. Following a particularly stressful day, veteran New York City ER physician Richard Steele—a widower with a 15-year-old son—suffers a near-fatal heart attack, totally oblivious that his karma is inexorably intertwined with a biogenetic accident that occurred 13 months before on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. At almost the same moment in nearby White Plains, Dr. Kathleen Sullivan—a sort of postmodern Naderesque spokesperson for public radio's Environment Watch—is delivering a prophecy of doom to media gathered at a press conference held by Agrenomics International, a mega-international corporation involved in genetic research. Three months later, Steele and Sullivan meet up at an environmental conference in Hawaii, where Sullivan makes a nocturnal foray to a chicken farm where she believes experiments in mutant viruses are being carried out, and is beset by armed gunmen. Meanwhile, Steele beds the mom of an infant victim of the mutant virus, then witnesses her suicide. Star-fated, Sullivan and Steele become allies and lovers. Clement's tale is technically astute, if plagued with unnecessary detail, but his emotionally naïve characters and pulpy crafting leave him drifting in the choppy wake of medical suspense queen Tess Gerritsen, much less that of Robin Cook. (July)
Forecast:It's doubtful whether readers will make the leap to hardcover with Clement—most will likely wait for the paperback. Meanwhile, negative word of mouth could cause Ballantine to regret the unusual money-back guarantee they are offering purchasers of the hardcover edition.