The secret of longevity has been a puzzle that has a haunted scientists. While life spans have elongated due to better healthcare and nutrition as societies have evolved, scientists have long searched for the secret key to increase life spans even more. Â The search for the magical exlir has been unsuccessful.
Dr. Ni-Fu Cheng has found the secret. He has created a potion that can easily double the human lifespan while also improving the overall health of the test subjects. Working at the Xian Institute, Dr. Ni-Fu Cheng isn’t sure that he should go public with his knowledge. A “guest” of the Chinese government, he isn’t going to be freed until he tells his secret. The elderly leaders of the government, desperate to retain power, have concocted a plan.
Their plan is to entice his American born granddaughter, Dr. Lili Quan, to come to the Institute. They will orchestrate events and offer her a fellowship so that she leaves her current position and travels to mainland China. Once in China, they will inform her that her grandfather, who she has long thought was dead, is alive. They will give her plausible explanations of why they couldn’t tell her until she was in China and then arrange a family reunion. After her family reunion, they will use his grand daughter as leverage against Dr. Ni-Fu Cheng to make him give up the formula. But, the Chinese government is not the only one who wants the secret as there are many players in this game and everyone has a plan leading to cross and double cross and even triple cross.
Set against the backdrop of the seven weeks in 1989 that culminated in the Tianamen square massacre, the novel is both highly political and one person’s journey back to her home land. Dr. Quan is Chinese only by genetics at the start of the novel having been born in America and having strongly resisted her heritage every step of the way. It is only through her journey home, both in terms of place as well as meeting her grand father, that she is able to heal her psyche and become at peace with who she is. She is a complex character that evolves significantly throughout the novel and yet is still left with major life questions at the end of the work.
Rich in characters and settings, this novel often moves at a slow pace despite its “thriller” designation. “A novel of suspense” would be more appropriate as the thriller components seem only to be the science, exotic locales, and the involvement of government agencies at home and abroad. It certainly can’t refer to the pace which is often little more than glacial. Point of view shifts through the many characters, often for a few paragraphs at a time, further slows the pace of a work that needs some serious streamlining to fit the thriller genre or a major increase in action. It is only the last 70 pages or so, where bodies begin to fall and thereby eliminate some of the “meanwhile, back over here” point shifts that the pace increases dramatically.Â Even then it doesn’t come anywhere near classic Robert Ludlum or David Morrel who have both touched upon the longevity issue from time to time and wrote actual thrillers.
Despite the fact that it is an “Award-Winning Finalist in the Fiction & Literature: Thriller/Adventure category of the National Best Books 2008 Awards,” the novel is a good read that could have been better. As it is, the work is an overall interesting read that is filled with complex characters, plenty of intrigue, and numerous exotic locals. One can’t help but believe there has to be a movie deal in the works.
Rabbit in the Moon: An International Thriller
Deborah & Joel Shlian
June 1, 2008
This material was provided in ARC form by publicist Maryglenn McCombs in exchange for my objective review.
Kevin R. Tipple Â© 2008
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