The boldness of the ideas contained within this novel about cloning begins with its title. The word “apotheosis” can be freely translated as 1.a. the perfect form or example of something, 1.b. the highest or best part of something, or 2. elevation to divine status. (Merriman-Webster Online Dictionary). It is with these expectations that the book begins with a letter from John Numen, who tells us from the beginning that he is unapologetically a multifaceted scientist, medical researcher, doctor, billionaire investor, a fugitive on the FBI’s Most Wanted list, and a fledgling serial killer.
We believe him.
Numen’s trajectory from a scientist to a reclusive but fiendish killer with infinite financial resources is quite the tale. Human cloning is his obsession. He believes he has developed the science to make it easy and practical despite its medical and scientific, legal and ethical challenges. As he progresses decades into the future, he plans carefully for the lifespan he needs and the facilities he requires to develop his ideas into practical tools. He has the resources to do both and gives us a front-row seat on the often-murderous details involved in how he accomplishes his goals, whether it be on his private island in the Caribbean or at his Colorado estate.
What distinguishes Numen from many other mad scientists is his portrayal as a human being. He is as capable of loving as he is in murdering. His descriptions of both give this read a humanity most welcome in the sci-fi genre. In particular, his love affair with the wife of a business colleague and its tragic ending lend a dramatic sensibility that sci-fi books rarely achieve.
For more than half the book, the potential for it becoming the basis for a long-form television mini-series virtually leaps off the page. Then the story seems to wander a bit, shifting the point of view from Numen to a female kickboxer with dreams of MMA championships and the moxie to carry it out. Fast action sequences and brutal punches make for a great diversion.
What Darrell Lee delivers is a fast-paced thriller with a lot of tendrils that are likely to snatch readers up and keep them in the chair, a well-drawn mad scientist with a sexy kick-ass femme fatal, and an interesting story that may stay with you for a while.
All in all, we expect The Apotheosis will indeed find its fan-base among those who love fast-paced, unapologetic sci-fi thrillers.