Hackwriters Reviews with Alex Grant
DISCRETE CHARM OF CHARLIE MONK
A BOOK REVIEW BY ALEX GRANT.
WARNER BOOKS, March 2003 @ $23.95 U.S.
and highly original novel'an
and highly original novel'.
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David Ambroses 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 worlds top primate and its
Mr.Ambroses 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
Stevensons "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
all rights reserved