Debut thriller about human cloning, with enough plotting to sustain a TV miniseries. Maybe that’s the idea.
Sometime in the near future, Chicago fertility doctor Davis Moore is about to clone a child. Still reeling from the brutal rape and murder of his daughter, Anna Kat, the usually ethical Davis breaks the law that requires DNA samples to be taken only from dead humans. Hoping to track the killer by finding someone whose appearance matches that of the cloned child, Moore uses sperm suctioned from Kat’s dead body. With several narrative directions possible—variations on The Boys from Brazil or The Other, for example—journalist Guilfoile (The New Republic, McSweeney’s, etc.) takes nearly all of them. He cuts predictably to a disturbed fundamentalist, Mickey the Gerund, who stalks fertility clinics, at one point shooting and wounding Moore. The Finns, parents of cloned baby Justin, hire a detective to learn something about the person Davis alleged to be the DNA donor. Davis hires the same detective to photograph Justin and then uses software to see what the child will look like as an adult. Meanwhile, the doctor’s depressed wife commits suicide, and he confides his guilty cloning secret to Joan Burton, an associate who’s attracted to him. The two head to Nebraska to pursue a lead (and a subplot) that sputters out. Back in Chicago, a serial killer known as the Wicker Man is at large. Is he Kat’s murderer? The sprawling chase finally comes into some focus as Justin tells Davis that he’s certain the source of his DNA is a man who sexually assaulted his mother. Davis thereupon follows a circuitous path to the wrap-up.
Fresh idea hampered by conventional treatment—and way too much of it.