Another marvel of sheer dumb-fun medical terror by the awesomely silly yet undeniably enthralling Cook (Coma, Mortal Fear,...

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MUTATION

Another marvel of sheer dumb-fun medical terror by the awesomely silly yet undeniably enthralling Cook (Coma, Mortal Fear, etc.). The premise here is vintage, comic-book-simple Cook: an M.D., Victor Frank, mutates his wife Marsha's fetus and produces a mad/evil child-genius. What's new for Cook is that there's no noble doc fighting the terror here; in fact, there's no central hero at all, with Victor and Marsha shouldering equal burdens as they learn what an Omen-esque lad ten-year-old VJ is (or is he nine? Cook's confused on this point). It takes the parents a lot longer than it does the reader to figure out that VJ's a bad egg; we know it as soon as the kid stares with eyes ""as cold and bright as ice"" (alternately, ""ice blue eyes""), but poor Marsha hasn't a clue, since Victor never told her that he toyed with her genes to make a son with twice the usual number of neurons--and Victor has thought his experiment a flop ever since VJ, at age three, seemed to change overnight from tyke genius to just another bright kid. It's only when two victims of Victor's lab-foolery (he's head honcho of a bioengineering firm, Chimera) drop dead that Marsha, and then Victor, start to think hard about how their other son and the nanny lived in fear of VJ until they suddenly died of a rare liver cancer. Marsha confronts Victor; he confesses his Frankenstein-urges; they face the terrible truth: VJ didn't get dumber at age three, he's just been hiding his smarts, and by now he's actually a rich, murderous Brainiac with a secret underground lab and his own private army on the Chimera grounds--where he grows both cocaine and herds of subhuman slaves in vats. Victor and Marsha just won't put up with this nonsense--leading to their imprisonment by VJ and a semitragic finale. Cook's prose is as awful as ever here as he piles on the adjectives and adverbs and hops points-of-view like a deranged flea. But his uncanny ability to generate Perils-of-Pauline-like suspense and his patent infusion of rich technomedical detail add up to yet another page-flipping if inane read that's sure to delight his many, forgiving fans.

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 1988

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1988