Perfect People: Books and Writers

After the runaway success of his crime series featuring Roy Grace, now at seven books and with a steadily growing audience, Peter James has returned to his standalone format which he also served so well in the past before he turned to a life of crime (writing).

I loved all of Peter’s earlier works, The Host/Possession/The Alchemist etc and, despite really enjoying the Roy Grace novels, am pleased to see that he can still crack out a great one-off book whilst his series character has a brief rest.

Perfect People is truly the stuff of nightmares – nightmares and dreams of young parents. What parent doesn’t wish for their child to be born free of any illnesses or genetic problems? And, given the choice, don’t all parents want their children to be successful, talented and have a great capacity for learning? Taking these two sets of hopes & dreams, Swedish scientist Dr John Klaesson and his wife Naomi are faced with a tough decision of their own. Having lost their son, Halley, at an early age as a result of a bad gene that they carry, they are faced with the opportunity of enhancing the life and blocking bad genes with a selection process offered by Dr Leo Dettore on his off-shore hospital the Serendipity Rose.

The Doctor offers them, and other couples, the chance to select the sex of their child, genetic failings to block and areas to enhance – providing them with the opportunity to have another son, without the genetic problems, requiring less sleep and having enhanced learning abilities.

But, it will come as no surprise to anyone who has read any of the blurb on the book jacket, that things do not go entirely to plan when the Klaessons decide to go through with the procedure.

It’s difficult to add much more without a SPOILER alert, so if you want all the surprises stop reading at this point…..

Naomi falls pregnant, but it soon becomes apparent that she is carrying twins. The pace then picks up as a race to hide away their family starts as other families who have gone through the same treatment are slaughtered in their homes by a sinister cult calling themselves ‘The Disciples of the Third Millennium’ who seemed set on destroying all of Dr Dettore’s creations and those who gave birth to them, citing them as the ‘Devil’s Spawn’.

Peter James’ interest in scientific advances has provided here a scary premise that is not so distant from a worrying reality. We all want the best for our children, but in Perfect People he has illustrated just how badly that could turn out if we allow science to breed children who advance so much quicker than their parents. With his usual great flair for creating characters we really care about, he places the reader right in the centre of all of the couple’s dilemmas and leaves us with a very thought-provoking tale right up to the final heartbreaking words.

A true morality tale to make readers ponder their lot, to be grateful for what they have and to fear taking risks with scientific advances that might change things for the better or for the worst.

A break from the series for Peter James, but another triumph!