Paul McAuley (2004)
Michael Crichton meets the Island of Dr. Moreau in this story about one man out to stop the greedy and deluded geneticists who’ve found a way to take man back to the point in the family tree where monkeys went one way and humans the other. The action takes place in the Congo in the not-so-distant future, after a plague-like disease has decimated nations, and a power hungry international regime rules the land. Strange killer ape creatures are the product of genetic experiments gone wrong, and the hero finds himself caught in the middle of a massive cover-up and a race to control the ultimate weapon, the white devils themselves.
Sci-fi thrillers, especially ones that are grounded in medical mayhem, aren’t really my bag. This book peaked my interest and kept me reading, a testament to the quality of the writing. McAuley creates a well-defined alternate reality, an interesting central character to navigate us through it, and a story that’s complex enough to keep you guessing.
While never dull, at over 450 pages, White Devils could have been trimmed at bit. For a summer action read, it was a bit hefty to toss in the beach bag. It was a page turner though and with a bit of editing for action, should make an equally satisfying sci-fi thriller movie–don’t you think it won’t be. [*** 1/2]