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Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Book Review: Rare Traits by David George Clarke
Book synopsis from Good Reads
A 582-year-old Renaissance artist's struggle for survival through the centuries and in the present day, where modern technology is starting to unravel his secrets – Rare Traits is a novel of deception, discovery, determination and survival.
Brilliant artist John Andrews is a mortal man like any other, but with one exception: he is almost six hundred years old. The rare traits that have given John his extraordinary long life are an enigma to him, but he knows from bitter experience that he must keep them secret – whenever they have been discovered by others, his very existence has been perceived as a threat that must be eliminated.
Born Luca di Stefano in early Renaissance Tuscany, he is apprenticed to the great fresco painter Piero della Francesca. When his lack of ageing is discovered, a fanatical and over-zealous Church wants him burnt at the stake. Fleeing to Naples, he adopts a new identity and starts a new life, the first of many artistic personas over the centuries. But the lingering threat of discovery is never far away ... and now modern technology is catching up.
Claudia Reid, forensic biochemist, profiles John's DNA following his arrest for a trivial incident. She is stunned by the results: they are unprecedented. Realising she has discovered something extraordinary and driven by a desire to prove her own research theories relating to ‘junk’ DNA correct, she embarks on a reckless mission to find John that could ruin her career.
Ced Fisher, forensic art forgery expert, has written a ground-breaking computer program that reveals nuances of an artist’s style that are way beyond those the human eye can perceive. But when he uses the programme to compare John Andrews’ work with that of certain long-dead artists and finds that they match, Ced is faced with questions whose answers defy logic. And the further he delves into the past, the deeper the mystery of John Andrews becomes.
As Claudia and Ced probe deeper into John Andrews' world, they unwittingly put his life at risk. There are others who want to know the secret of his eternal youth and who will stop at nothing to get it. Once again, John is looking over his shoulder...
My review at Good Reads
Five out of Five stars (only five because I can’t give it more)
My goodness, I don’t know where to start. I just finished this book and I think part of me cried because it was over! It was FABULOUS! As one who loves action, a good mystery, art and history, Rare Traits is a rare treat; it has it all!
The book is set in….every time. The main puzzle of the story is in 2009 and I love how well and logically the historical puzzle pieces fit together. The main character is totally likable and there is plenty of “time” to get to know him and like him. He has a gift he doesn’t understand that he could abuse but he never does.
When modern day scientists get ahold of a sample of his DNA an explanation of his secret starts to come together. Where earlier in his long life the church wanted to capture and execute him as a demon, understanding of his condition gets the attention of a modern day corporation that wants to exploit him for personal gain, regardless of the possible consequences to him. Fear and greed are great evils; greed is still more evil.
What I really loved about this book was that it made logical sense. Oh the 600 year old man? Keep reading and you start to wonder if it is indeed possible! Maybe you’ve met a super-super-centenarian. The best fiction is fiction that makes you wonder if just maybe…
At the end of the book, some loose ends are wrapped up. Guarantees are not such guarantees after all. What all does the government cover up? So many parts to DNA; how much of it is still untapped?
Be sure to read the Afterword; it’ll make you go “wow!”
According to David George Clarke’s website, the second book in this trilogy is due to be released at the end of the year; I can’t wait to read it!!