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by Brian Stableford

Pub Date: Sept. 8th, 1999
ISBN: 0-312-87207-0
Publisher: Tor

Science fiction whodunit set in the same future as Inherit the Earth (1998) from Stableford (to whom, last time out, Kirkus ascribed the output of fellow-Britisher Brian Lumley—apologies to both authors). By 2495, the MegaMall more or less owns and runs the world; old-type humans carry health-preserving internal technology and can undergo a maximum of three rejuvenations, while members of the New Human Race require neither and, barring accident, have attained immortality. United Nations police officers Charlotte Holmes and Hal Watson investigate the murder of old gene engineer Gabriel King: he was gobbled up by black flowers delivered by a beautiful but unidentified young woman. Also joining the case are MegaMall special investigator Michael Lowenthal and famous flower-geneticist Oscar Wilde (who, given to pontificating, lacks both wit and epigrams). Naturally, Wilde himself is a suspect, along with rival gene engineers Jafri Biasiolo and old Walter Czastka. Other victims, killed in the same manner and visited by the same woman, soon show up. The victims all attended college together. Walter Czastka clearly knows something but clams up. As the DOA list lengthens, it emerges that chief suspect Biasiolo is Czastka’s son—Czastka performed illegal genetic experiments that the others helped cover up—while the elusive young woman is genetically his mother! Even so, Jafri Biasiolo died months ago. Impressive biological speculations and an intriguing setup, but the stodgy investigation isn—t helped either by the obscure motive or the tale’s overstuffing with pointless Victoriana.