I love it when I discover a new favorite author. Kevin Guilfoile is writing intriguing, intellectual thrillers that ask, "What if?" "Cast of Shadows" seems to be set in the not-to-distant future ??? or else in a slightly altered present ??? where reproductive human cloning is just coming into common use. It asks the question: "What if reproductive cloning were (mis-) used to catch a killer?" Guilfoile deeply and thoughtfully explores the potential ramifications and consequences of such technology. The earlier reviewer who objected to the "Christian theme" of this novel must not have listened to it for very long; because "Cast of Shadows" definitely does not have a Christian theme at all: only a sub-plot following the radical Christian right's violent reaction to the use of human cloning technology. In fact, the thread of this sub-plot, woven intermittently into the main story, stays entirely in the background until the very end, when it finally emerges to reveal a deliciously surprising plot twist. Any intelligent, thinking person will love this book. The narrator, Scott Brick, is a good actor with an unpleasant voice; but the story will soon have you overlooking this one small drawback. I am now listening to Mr. Guilfoile's next novel, "The Thousand," which is providing me with at least as much enjoyment as "Cast of Shadows" did. I highly recommend this author.
With "Political Suicide," Palmer returns to his likable protagonist, Lou Welcome, from his prior novel, "Oath of Office." Only, you don't necessarily have to listen to "Oath of Office" first, as "Political Suicide" tells a new story. Palmer does, sometimes, fetch afar for his plots; and I am hoping that he has done so, again, with this one. I don't want to believe that a plot like this one could actually be hatched in the upper echelons of power. Without giving away any surprises -- in deference to those who don't like "spoilers" -- this story deals with a despicable way of leveling the playing field in the war on terror. Medicine -- Palmer's usual theme -- plays only a subsidiary part here, demonstrating Palmer's gradual move toward the political-thriller genre. Some of the characterizations in "Political Suicide" do stretch credibility a bit -- like lawyer Sarah Cooper's sudden transformation from nasty to nice -- but the cute plot twist at the end of the story ameliorated that weakness to a certain extent for me. As with "Oath of Office," narrator Robert Petkoff does a good job reading us "Political Suicide," clearly distinguishing all the characters from one another with different voices and accents. If you like thrillers, and don't mind suspending disbelief just a bit, I recommend "Political Suicide" to you.
"Oath of Office" deals with an important issue that threatens to detrimentally affect our health. I thank Michael Palmer for bringing it to light in this novel. Big-Pharma and Big-Agriculture are genetically modifying our food without our knowledge. Here in California, we recently had an election proposition that would have required food manufacturers to label their genetically-modified products, so that we consumers could, at least, make a choice. Of course, the proposition was defeated, thanks to the vast sum of money that the corporations spent to fight this sensible, if modest, proposal. Most people do not know that -- unless they are organically-grown -- 𝙖𝙡𝙡 of the corn and soy beans now produced in the U.S. have been genetically modified. By corollary, that means that all non-organically grown livestock have been fed those genetically-modified foodstuffs. Many of our other food crops have had foreign genes inserted into their D.N.A., in order to boost production and provide pest resistance. In "Oath of Office," Palmer provides the example of a corn crop that has had the gene from irradiated termites inserted into its D.N.A. Far-fetched? Not really. Unless you are only buying organic, you have probably already been eating tomatoes carrying pig genes. Nobody knows yet exactly what this genetic tampering with our food may do to us in the long run, because the experimental testing is being done on us right now. Only time will tell how this reckless manipulation is going to affect us. In "Oath of Office," Palmer postulates that the altered corn crop begins affecting people's brains, altering their decision-making faculty. The resulting plot provides an exciting thriller, with a message: Don't let greed overwhelm good sense. Robert Petkoff, the narrator of this audiobook, has a good voice and good acting chops. I recommend "Oath of Office" to fans of medical thrillers. As other reviewers have mentioned, this novel may not top Palmer's oeuvre; but it is definitely not a snore, either.