THE SILK CODE by Paul Levinson

THE SILK CODE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Science-fiction mystery incorporating one of Levinson’s popular stories (first published in Analog) about Manhattan forensic detective Phil D’Amato. Narrator Phil investigates several unusual deaths—caused by severe allergic reactions?—in Pennsylvania’s Amish country. He learns that the Amish have developed a number of advanced biological tools, such as lamps powered by fireflies, through selective breeding, and have a defense, derived from silk, against the allergic reaction. He develops a theory that the murderers belong to a concealed biological-whiz power group. Elsewhere, in a.d. 750, young trader Gwellyn becomes obsessed by a secretive beetle-browed people who play stone-bone flutes. Crucially, he leaves a document detailing his discoveries. Back in present-day New York, Phil investigates the case of a man who died the day before but whose mummified corpse appears to be that of a 30,000-year-old Neanderthal. At this point things get confused—Levinson inserts bits of omniscient narrative whenever he feels the need—but the upshot is that the gentle, highly intelligent Neanderthals have survived into the present by developing devastating biological weapons. Well-informed and imaginative, with an engaging protagonist, but poorly structured and desperately hard to follow. Levinson’s debut is not an entirely successful graduation from stories to novel, but future appearances will be eagerly anticipated.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-312-86823-5
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Tor
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1999




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