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Perfect People: The Guardian

By John O'Connell

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James takes a break from his Roy Grace crime series with this excellent standalone thriller. After John and Naomi’s four-year-old son dies from a rare genetic disorder, they throw in their lot with a maverick geneticist, Dr Leo Dettore, whose clinic floats 12 miles off the coast of Cape Cod, beyond the reach of federal law. Will the couple find what they are looking for – a healthy child created at the point where medical ethics, individual responsibility and common sense meet? And can they survive the backlash from religious groups for whom no form of genetic tampering is ever acceptable? As ever, James writes beautifully, maintaining the pace with short, punchy chapters. But it’s his firm grasp of the moral issues surrounding designer babies that makes Perfect People so satisfying – and so unsettling.