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Gargoyles by Alan Nayes

 

Rating: (Mildly Recommended)

 

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Made to Order

If you miss reading Robin Cook’s medical thrillers, you may want to pick up a copy of Alan Nayes first novel, Gargoyles. Also, if you’ve read and enjoyed Francis Fukyama’s non-fiction, Our Posthuman Future, you’re likely to become alarmed as Nayes explores the consequences of developments in biotechnology. Gargoyles presents how a global company raises cross-species creatures for selling body parts at high margins, made-to-order. All your fears about cloning, and genetics run amok, become real as Nayes presents what could happen. Here’s an excerpt from early in the book, where the protagonist, Amoreena Daniels, has completed a tour of a facility that has invited her to become a surrogate mother for some unknown parents:

“Back in the administrator’s office, Amoreena was handed a folder containing some papers, along with the promotional pamphlet.
 ‘Read the questionnaire carefully and thoughtfully,’ Irene instructed. ‘It’s designed to make you think. Will I be happy as a surrogate? What do I think of carrying another couple’s baby? Is this right for me? And study the contract. The compensation terms are spelled out on the back pages.
Irence escorted Amoreena out the door.
In the reception area, Amoreena saw Ramona Perez, who smiled and waved.
Irene placed a hand on Amoreena’s elbow. ‘I want you to be sure this is right for you, dear.’
 ‘I understand, Ms. Leggett.’
 ‘Irene.’
 ‘Irene,’ Amoreena corrected herself.
 ‘That’s my girl,’ Irene said. ‘We look forward to seeing you again. And we all wish your mother the best.’
After a brief embrace, she turned Amoreena over to the clinic coordinator.
 ‘How’d it go?’ Ramona asked on the way to the car.
 ‘I’m impressed.’
 ‘I’m glad.’
For a full two minutes after Ramona departed, Amoreena sat alone on the front seat of Silver with the engine idling. She’d actually done it. And she felt not just a little proud for having kept the appointment, though she was relieved the ordeal was over.
She reached for the folder and removed the contract. Recalling Irene’s words, she turned to the last pages where the terms of compensation were elucidated.
She read the numbers.
 ‘Oh shit.’

Becker moved a stack of charts aside and swung one hip up on the corner of Irene’s desk. ‘Volkman’s concerned she’s too smart.’
 ‘Who?’ Irene asked, scrolling down a list of the clinic’s most recent patient census.
 ‘Ms. Daniels.’
 ‘She a second-year premedical student, not a Ph.D in biogenetics.’
 ‘Whose uninsured mother is dying of cancer,’ Becker added aloofly.
Irene tapped the mouse and the monitor went blank. ‘Our numbers are up ten percent this quarter.’”

The timely topic, combined with decent characters, makes this an interesting novel to read. Nayes’ dialogue can be distracting at times, especially when it sounds more forced than real. The plot moves along at an erratic clumsy pace that caused me to lose heart and give up at several points in the book. Some plot twists are too contrived and become distracting. If you’re willing to cut a first-time author some slack, reading Gargoyles will leave you a little frightened, worried, and concerned. You may end up looking forward to Nayes’ next book.

Steve Hopkins, July 17, 2002

 

ă 2002 Hopkins and Company, LLC

 

The recommendation rating for this book appeared in the August 2002 issue of Executive Times

 

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