by Leslie Davis
Review by Mel Jacob
Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781894063012
Date: 17 October 2007 List Price $19.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Leslie Davis' new novel, Keeper's Child, focuses on Dr. Jesse Grange's efforts to save humanity and its ruined environment. Ruthless in his pursuit, he lets nothing and no one stand in his way, not even his own brother.
An urgent summons forces Jesse to leave the city he loves and return to his old home. His dying brother Harold asks him to take his ward, Robin Dupree, who harbors the same virus that is killing Harold, to the city. While with his brother, Jesse befriends the village grocer's daughter, Isabella Barnes. She begs Jesse to take her with him.
Tired of watching Harold suffer, Jesse kills his dying brother. He then takes Robin and Isabella to the city. He enrolls both in college, but Robin soon drops out. She is drawn to others like herself who carry the virus that will ultimately kill them. They live in a tent camp outside the city walls near a garbage dump. Work crews of the infected enter the city each night to clean and collect trash, but leave at daylight.
Unknown to most of the citizens, Jesse has discovered a more virulent form of the virus stalks uninfected city dwellers. It turns them into monsters before it kills them. The old form of the virus was non-contagious, but not so the mutated form.
A student takes Robin into the underground warren beneath the city. He wants to show her Jesse's prisoners. He tells her Jesse has a cure for the virus and tests it on these unfortunates. The students convince those from the tents to invade the city. They hope Jesse will administer his serum to all. As the new form of the disease takes hold, the resulting revolt kills many. Citizens turn on those from outside the city.
Characters offer mixtures of strengths and weakness. A few show generosity and leadership, but most flounder in uncertainty. Those used to action thrillers may find the pace glacial.