It is a nightmare not beyond human comprehension, but a nightmare either already here orjust around the corner.
THE PERFECT CHILD, by Ashley Anderson – his first novel. The Perfect Child is a good book
for anyone who doesn’t need much sleep, doesn’t need to get to work on time, and whose partner
is exceedingly tolerant of, “Just one more chapter.” The story begins with the kidnapping of an
infant for whom a ransom note never arrives. Her mother Jenna is devastated, and not
particularly enamored with the work of the local police and the FBI in finding her. The local
police is mainly Ray Stone, a Chicago transplant getting a second chance at life in Wisconsin,
after going a little too far a little too often in his own war with crime in Chicago. Stone reminds
me of both Spenser and Hawk in Robert B. Parker’s series, who as characters represent two
aspects of one person, reintegrated by Anderson. The FBI point man is Eric Slater, seemingly the
prototypical, “I know better than you G-Man,” but who may be enough of a renegade at heart to
keep the investigation going. The elephant-in-the-room is 21st century biotechnology,
specifically gene-editing, and the potential for modifying human beings for good or ill. Or is all
such modification only for ill?
I read a lot of police/detective novels, often falling in love with an author and reading his or her
entire series. Coincidentally, when I heard about The Perfect Child from a friend, I was finishing
Peter May’s, The Fire Maker, which has a similar theme and storyline, but just enough beyond
belief for me so as to be not as compelling a read as Anderson’s. Nevertheless, Peter May was
described by a New York Times reviewer as, “a writer I’d follow to the ends of the earth.” I am
about halfway through May’s books. His Lewis Trilogy are the only ones that fit description for
me. Anderson’s book is just as compelling, and it’s his FIRST NOVEL.