Thursday, September 2, 2010

Audiobook Thursday - CAST OF SHADOWS

FIRST LINE: "This wasn't grief Davis felt, staring at her so-still feet pointing at impossible angles to the tight synthetic weave of charcoal carpet."

Davis Moore is a fertility doctor with a thriving practice and a happy family. At work he helps infertile couples bear children through a cloning process. DNA from deceased individuals is used in the process and the children are closely monitored as they mature. When Moore's teenage daughter is brutally raped and murdered, her case is never solved. Her personal effects are returned to Moore and his wife, but the police accidentally left a vial in with her belongings. The vial contains the semen collected from the rape scene. In a fit of desperation, Moore decides to use the DNA from the semen with one of his patients, thereby creating a clone of his daughter's murderer.

CAST OF SHADOWS is the 2005 debut from Kevin Guilfoile and WOW did he give himself a challenge to follow-up and attempt to surpass. CAST OF SHADOWS is everything a great book should be: layered, complex, controversial, challenging, exciting. Guilfoile throws in the controversy of the cloning issue as well as touching on nature versus nurture. Ethics are a strong theme. Where do we draw the line with science? At whose expense is it acceptable to pursue justice? Even faith receives some face time in CAST OF SHADOWS. Guilfoile isn't trying to hand out answers in this thriller but rather pose some hypotheticals about the possible waves of effect. Or maybe a web of effect is a better analogy. The different forces all act independent of one another but still touch the others. It's almost like artwork by Escher; the actual cause is not clear. If any of the factors are removed will the outcome be different?

The characters are well drawn in this novel. The desperation of a grieving father, the determination of a religious fanatic, the conflict of an innocent child caught in the midst of everything. And woven into the complexity is a violent murderer running loose and creating chaos.

Another layer of CAST OF SHADOWS is the virtual world in which the characters have avatars, Shadow World. Shadow World functions as a parallel universe of the actual characters and the avatars, but it also functions as a complex analogy of the clones.

This is a heavy novel daring to explore controversial issues and themes. If you're looking for a warm and fuzzy tale, this would not be the book. If you're looking for one to challenge you as a reader, as a member of society, as a human being. CAST OF SHADOWS is right up your alley.

I listened to CAST OF SHADOWS on audio and it wasn't one of my favorites on audio. However, I'm quite certain I'm in a very small minority on this one, so I don't want to discourage people from trying this audio. CAST OF SHADOWS is narrated by Scott Brick who has a tendency to interpret far more dramatically than what I ever hear in my head. That dramatic, almost breathy, sound is distracting for me. If you are one of Brick's many, many fans, then I'm sure you will enjoy CAST OF SHADOWS on audio. Me, on the other hand, I'm going to read Guilfoile's next in print.

CAST OF SHADOWS is available from Alfred A. Knopf in hardcover (ISBN: 978-1-400-0430-88), from Vintage in trade paper (ISBN 978-1-400-0782-64), from Books on Tape in audio (ISBN 978-1-415-9163-46).

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Beth F September 2, 2010 at 9:30 AM  

Interesting. I'm a Brick fan, so I'd definitely try this in audio.

Naomi Johnson September 2, 2010 at 1:04 PM  

I like Brick's work on the Nelson DeMille books, but I would always rather read than listen, so...

I'm reading Guilfoyle's THE THOUSAND right now, and so far, I'm hooked.

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