Sunday, July 24, 2016

Dark Inheritance - W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O'Neal Gear

   2012; 579 pages.  New Authors? : Yes.  Genre : Thriller; Genetics Gone Wrong.  Overall Rating : 6½*/10.

    Really, for an anthropologist like Jim Dutton, it’s a dream job: raising and monitoring Umber, one of Smyth-Archer Chemists’ genetically augmented chimpanzees (bonobos, actually) in his own household.

    It’s not just the scientific research.  Umber seems more human than ape; she watches television, goes shopping for groceries, and cooks dinner.  Furthermore, she’s grown up alongside Jim’s 13-year-old, Brett, and the two have bonded like sisters.  They read Teen magazine together, and drool over Leonardo DiCaprio.

    So it’s easy to forget Umber is still the property of Smyth-Archer Chemists.  But she is, and when SAC comes knocking one day on Jim’s door, with the stated intention of taking Umber to Africa and rintroducing her to the wild, there’s not much he and Brett can do.  It’s either never see Umber again, or at least accompany her to Africa and be part of her forced transformation of habitat..

    Guess which one they choose.

What’s To Like...
    Dark Inheritance is a thriller about genetic tinkering gone awry, so if you enjoyed the premise in books like Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park, you’ll like this one as well.  The book divides into two halves.  The first half is mostly set in the USA, and develops the background story.  To keep it from getting too dry (this is a thriller, after all, not a drama), the Gears sprinkle in some mayhem taking place in both Africa and Texas.

    The second half of the book has plenty of action, and is mostly situated in a small African country called Equatorial Guinea.  I liked the descriptions of the place; you get a feel for it without getting bogged down in an avalanche of details.

    There are gobs of characters to meet and keep straight, both of the human and simian variety.  It’s gotta be a challenge to develop several augmented apes into believable, 3-D characters, but the authors do a good job here.

    There’s plenty of blood and gore, particularly in the second half, plus a couple attempted rapes, and even some diarrhea to contend with.  The Africans are pretty much stereotyped, but the storyline plods along to an acceptable climax.  I very much liked the way the character of “Sky Eyes” was resolved.

Kewlest New Word…
Benighted (adj.) : in a state of pitiful or contemptible intellectual or moral ignorance.

    “Good God, Jim, after all these years, you’re still in love with her.  What any other woman on earth would give for that kind of devotion.”
    He shrugged.  “She’s the mother of my daughter.  I owe her something.”
    “That, or you’ve got monogamous genes.”
    “No, I like Levi’s, thanks.”  (loc. 1077)

   “God help you, don’t you realize that eventually the press is going to learn about this?  The professional community is already whispering about it.”
    “True.”  Godmoore laced his hands together.  “Fortunately, few people pay attention to scientists.  They’d much rather worry about athletes and movie stars.  We expect a rather slow building of interest.  When reporters start sniffing around the SAC apes, we will take the appropriate steps to defuse their interest.”  (loc. 2328)

Kindle Details...
    Dark Inheritance presently sells for $5.99 at Amazon.  This is kind of a one-off book for the Gears, but they have a slew of other e-books available, including their better-known “People of the” historical fiction series set in pre-Colombian Native America.  Most of their books are in the $5.99-$8.99 price range.

 “You wouldn’t believe what happened at the last faculty meeting.  We caught one of the archaeologists digging up dirt about people’s pasts.”  (loc. 1046)
    There’s nothing wrong with Dark Inheritance, but by the same token, nothing really excited me about it either.  The plotline has almost zero twists to it; once the Duttons get to Africa, you can pretty much predict everything that’s going to happen.

   Worse, the plotline is almost a duplicate of a book I read a while back, Robin Cook’s Chromosome 6 (reviewed here).  Indeed, the two tales are so alike – to the point of where both involve bonobos running amok in a man-made compound in Equatorial Guinea, that I’m surprised cries of plagiarism didn’t arise.  Oh well, at least the ending here is better than Cook’s, which remains at the top of my list for the worst ending ever penned by a recognizable, published author.

    6½ Stars.  Yeah, I know, it’s been a while since I’ve posted a review.  Alas, I had some serious heart trouble in early July, and I am only now getting back to reading for extended periods.  But every day gets slightly better, and hopefully the worst is behind me.

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