...a gripping , thought-provoking tale of mounting distrust, betrayal, brutality, and greed....
Navigating the turbulent waters of genetic manipulation, this first novel tells a grisly what-if tale, speculating about the possible outcome of human gene research gone bad. Amoreena Daniels, a young Julia Roberts look-alike, is a bright but impoverished premed student who chooses to become a surrogate mother in order to pay for her uninsured mother's cancer treatment. She believes she is gestating a child for private adoption, but a series of suspicious incidents at the clinic lead her to wonder whether something different is in the works. The other surrogate mothers seem to be mostly illegal aliens, and some of them are badly frightened. Then a former medical intern with a drug problem gets in touch with her and tries to convince her that the clinic is fronting a scheme to produce subhuman clones for organ harvesting and scientific experimentation. Amoreena refuses to believe him, but a disk he sends her after he mysteriously disappears proves he is right. Unwittingly, she has allowed her body to be used as an incubator for "drones," mostly human but also part pig and part baboon. The novel culminates in a long episode set in Guatemala, where Amoreena is taken against her will to give birth. Nayes doesn't indulge in gory detail, focusing instead on the clinic intrigue and a Guatemala subplot involving two young crusaders out to foil the clinic's plans. The frisson the novel supplies is meager when weighed against the wordy buildup, but those who prefer their thrills mild may be satisfied. (Sept.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Slickly suspenseful debut medical thriller finds nasty variations of Rosemary's Baby romping about the heavily guarded interiors of a global biotechnology firm. Amoreena Daniels, named by her mother Geneva after the heroine of an early Elton John song, is a poor, proud, brilliant, and beautiful pre-med student working hard to qualify for a scholarship when she learns that cancer-ridden Geneva used the money for her medical insurance to help pay for Amoreena's education. Geneva is about to be tossed out of her hospital bed when, quicker than you can say too-good-to-be-true, Amoreena is offered $50,000 by the innocuously named Women's Clinic to be a surrogate parent. While Amoreena is getting artificially inseminated, a poor, proud, uneducated Guatemalan girl named Gabriella is trying to escape from the horrible people in a horrible high-tech lab hidden in the jungle. These people are most interested in the horrible thing that is growing too fast and too painfully in her womb and, a few pages later, in Amoreena's. The staff of the Women's Clinic tell Amoreena that the unsettlingly rapid movements she feels are nothing to worry about, but with her background in medicine and the strange warnings she's getting from poor women she doesn't know, she begins to worry. When a medical intern who tries to warn her winds up dead, Amoreena finds herself being hounded by all kinds of weird characters bent on stopping her from finding out that something not quite human is forming inside her. Nayes, himself an M.D., makes his blindly trusting female characters both victims and villains in this well-executed if predictable tale of medical research run amok. Some loose ends are left dangling, but the mixof breezy science and lab-smock sadism makes for breathless page-turning.
From the Publisher
"Gargoyles is a heart-stopping page turner that kept me on the edge of my seat. Alan Nayes combines his expertise and slick writing to brilliantly bring to life the all-too-real possibilities of genetic engineering in the wrong hands. Gargoyles is a frighteningly good read!"-April Christofferson, author of Buffalo Medicine
"A splendid debut. A timely tale, steadily accelerating suspense . . . and a warning."Charles Wilson, USA Today best-selling author of Deep Sleep and Extinct on Gargoyles
"The idea behind this story is first rate. Dr. Nayes shows the dark side of genetic engineering run amok, in a nightmarish biotech scenario. . . . Gargoyles is an audacious beginning for a bold new writer of medical thrillers."David M. Shobin, New York Times bestselling author of The Provider
"Slickly suspenseful . . . The mix of breezy science and lab-smock sadism makes for breathless page-turning."Kirkus Reviews on Gargoyles
"[A] gripping, thought-provoking tale of mounting distrust, betrayal, brutality, and greed."Booklist on Gargoyles
bestselling author of Buffalo Medicine - April Christofferson
A heart-stopping page turner...brilliantly brings to life the all-too-real possibilities of genetic engineering in the wrong hands....A frighteningly good read!
USA Today bestselling author of Deep Sleep and Extinct - Charles Wilson
A splendid debut. A timely tale, steadily accelerating suspense . . . and a warning.
New York Times bestselling author of The Provider - David M. Shobin
First rate. An audacious beginning for a bold new writer.
Read an Excerpt
Somewhere near Itzimte Ruins, Guatemala, rainy season
She turned her first trick four months shy of her thirteenth birthday. Patricio had been a small man, only a boy really, being just two years older than she. His father had been a teniente in the security police that patrolled Mexico City, and he'd paid sixty pesos for Gabriella's services. Gabriella wasn't her real name then, but it was the name she'd used while plying her trade, and it was how she was currently registered at Las Canas.
Now, three years later, the teenage girl with the truculent almond eyes sat huddled under a gnarled tree limb, seeking refuge from the tropical shower. Her skin glistened moist from sweat and precipitation, and she could smell her own fear above the pungent odor of the earth.
Gabriella stroked one have across her gravid abdomen, then quickly climbed from the security and cover of the lush vegetation to resume her flight alone the muddy carretera that would eventually lead her to San Andres. Nightfall was fast approaching. She pressed onward, prodding herself another half kilometer, though her feet and thighs cried out for rest. Surrounded by miles of unfettered jungle that comprised the Guatemalan lowland rain forests, she longed for a shortcut. There was none. And carved out of this most intimidating habitat in all of Central America had been Las Canas.
Wump. Wump. Wump. Wump. Los helicoperos. The choppers.
"Mi bebé!" My baby. Gabriella dashed back under the gloomy cover of the rain-forest canopy. She would rather risk an encounter with el tigre or even Desmodus rotundus, the loathsome bloodsucking vampire bat.
Wump. Wump. Wump. Anything but the choppers. She could never return to Las Canas. Never.
Gabriella clutched desperately at her stomach. It heaved with each laborious breath. She couldn't maintain this frenetic pace, it was impossible. She forced herself to think through the tears, through the pain. She might still stand a chance if she could thwart their initial assault.
Wump. Wump. Wump. Wump.
"Que mierda,"Gabriella cried out.
Her hands protected her eyes as she stumbled farther through the thick underbrush. Thorns ripped at her skin, and vines threatened to ensnare her ankles as if they possessed wills of their own.
She tripped, stumbling forward. Terror gripped her like a giant anaconda. Her breaths catapulted from her convulsing chest in short gasps.
Oh Dios, por favor, she prayed. Please, God. If she could just make it to the Itzimté Ruins before dark.
High above her head, the canopy of epiphytes, vines, and towering ferns gyrated into a living tempest. The powerful downdraft from the Sikorsky's blades created a whirlwind of flying debris.
Gabriella threw herself on the forest floor, cowering under the onslaught of tangled vegetation.
Wump. Wump. Wump. Wump.
"No!" she cried. "No!"
With nothing to cling to but remnants of past dreams, Gabriella began to pray. She prayed for herself. She prayed for Las Canas. But mostly she prayed for the bebés.
The men from the platación de azúcan were coming.