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Hackwriters Reviews with Alex Grant



WARNER BOOKS, March 2003 @ $23.95 U.S.
Hard Cover
'an ambitious and highly original novel'an ambitious and highly original novel'.

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David Ambrose’s new speculative novel is a smooth blend of espionage and sci-fi that cocks a snook at the whole idea of Secret Service agents like 007 - "James Bond" and his ilk: over-sexed very well-built male icons of aggression and assertiveness.

Charlie Monk is an invincible superspy whose amazing exploits are persuasively described. He is also the centre-piece of an astonishing experiment in altering the genetic make-up of the chimpanzee. The key player in this mind-boggling research project is Dr.Susan Flemyng, who can implant false memories in her experimental subjects and insert their psyches into various Virtual Realities. Her problem is that eventually she begins to doubt her own actuality, once her husband has perished in a plane crash and her son and her father have been abducted. She requires the services of a master spy and remorseless assassin just like Charlie Monk.

Mr.Monk is gradually comes to terms with his own origins as a sensate but utterly amoral creature. He is repelled by what has been done to him and fluctuates between his roles as the world’s top primate and its second-rung cousin.

Mr.Ambrose’s very ambitious and highly original novel races along no less swiftly and remorselessly than his pathetic protagonist. Sympathy is engendered for the plight of a half-man/half beast akin to Robert Louis Stevenson’s "Mr.Hyde" and to the monsters in H.G.Wells’ THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU. And a great deal of fun is to be had at the expense of the Schwarzeneggers, the Stallones and the Willises ; that trio of Neanderthal ‘he-men’ who have cavorted with impunity around the jungles of Colombia, Viet-Nam and Nigeria on movie-screens for the past score of years.
At heart a philosophical thriller that simply questions the role of science in world affairs THE DISCRETE CHARM does obloge the reader to think out loud "What if…" which is the whole purpose of speculative fiction since the days of Wells and Verne and Poe .Mr.Ambrose has written a worthy successor to this literary genre one that resonates with humanity and with a genuine tenderness for the human condition – whence it sprang from and where it may be heading before long.

© Alex Grant march 2003

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