In her 12th book, the British author of the two series featuring Adam Dalgleish and Cordelia Gray ( Devices and Desires and An Unsuitable Job for a Woman , respectively) poses a premise that chills and darkens its setting in the year 2021. Near the end of the 20th century, for reasons beyond the grasp of modern science, human sperm count went to zero. The last birth occurred in 1995, and in the space of a generation humanity has lost its future. In England, under the rule of an increasingly despotic Warden, the infirm are encouraged to commit group suicide, criminals are exiled and abandoned and immigrants are subjected to semi-legalized slavery. Divorced, middle-aged Oxford history professor Theo Faron, an emotionally constrained man of means and intelligence who is the Warden's cousin, plods through an ordered, bleak existence. But a chance involvement with a group of dissidents moves him onto unexpected paths, leading him, in the novel's compelling second half, toward risk, commitment and the joys and anguish of love. In this convincingly detailed world--where kittens are (illegally) christened, sex has lost its allure and the arts have been abandoned--James concretely explores an unthinkable prospect. Readers should persevere through the slow start, for the rewards of this story, including its reminder of the transforming power of hope, are many and lasting. 125,000 first printing; BOMC main selection. (Mar.)
"A book of such accelerating tension that the pages seem to turn
faster as one moves along." --"Chicago Tribune"
"As scary and suspenseful as anything in Hitchcock." --"The New Yorker"
"Extraordinary. . . . Daring. . . . Frightening in its implications." --"The New York Times"
"Fascinating, suspenseful, and morally provocative. The characterizations are sharply etched and the narrative is compelling."--"Chicago Sun-Times"
"Extraordinary ... daring ... frightening in its implications."
--"The New York Times"
"She writes like an angel. Every character is closely drawn. Her atmosphere is unerringly, chillingly convincing. And she manages all this without for a moment slowing down the drive and tension of an exciting mystery."
--"The Times" (UK)