Spotlight and Review: Daughter Cell by Jay Hartlove

Welcome Jay Hartlove to Out of Control Characters. Today, I feature his latest book, Daughter Cell!

Jay Hartlove Bio

Jay Hartlove has been writing professionally for over 30 years, starting in the gaming industry with Supergame in 1980. He writes banking compliance procedures by day, he blogs about spirituality, and he teaches seminars on the craft of writing. Two of his short supernatural stories have appeared in the Hugo Award winning Drink Tank. He has posted the research he did for The Chosen at Like The Isis Rising Trilogy on Facebook.

 Cover blurb
How far can you genetically alter someone before she becomes someone else? Before she loses her soul?

Cover synopsis
Leading genetic researcher Randolph Macklin wakes up in Malaysia to find a four month gap in his memory, his wife dead, and his daughter in a coma. As he and his psychiatrist Sanantha Mauwad unravel the mystery, they find nothing and no one are what they appear to be. Ancient cults collide with cutting edge science in this tale of too much power driven by too much passion. 

Excerpt from Daughter Cell

Without any warning or sign at all, Randy stopped talking and his head fell forward onto his chest.
“Randy?” Sanantha got up and grabbed his hand from his lap. It was limp. “Randy!” No response. He had stopped breathing.
She put her head to his chest. No heartbeat. She blinked furiously thinking of what to do next. She wondered if she would be able to find the Epi-pen in her medical kit in the bathroom.
She startled and sucked in a short breath when she realized what had happened.
She got up in his face, grabbed his head with her hands, pried his eyes open with her thumbs, and yelled at him. “Randy! You are still in complete control of your mind! Roll the clock back to the
funeral site! You are still standing at your wife’s grave!”
Just as quickly as he had dropped off, he was back. She let go of his head and it came up straight. His breathing resumed. His eyes fell back closed, and he was still hypnotized, but he was back.
She put her hand on his chest, and found his heart was beating normally.
She dropped back into her own chair and blew out a deep breath. She grabbed her mouth and squeezed her cheeks with her hand, stared at him, and slowly shook her head.

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A daughter lies in a coma from a snakebite. A wife dies in a fiery car accident. A man can't remember four months of his life following these tragedies. Randolph Mackin hunts for answers, once he becomes aware of his surroundings, but he's caught in the middle of events he can't change. Or can he?

Science and religion clash in this thriller by Jay Hartlove. Despite a slow beginning, the plotline plays out as the characters strive to untangle what has happened. Macklin, Sanatha Mauwad, Young Nae Yoon, and Lo Cheung are all major players in this twisted story, but their relationships aren't defined well enough until far into the story.

The slow beginning is almost enough to turn off most readers. A fan of science/medical thrillers, to include those with DNA in the plot, for many years, I found myself almost ready to put this book down on more than one occasion. While character development is important, the beginning should also be defining to the story, one that hooks the reader into the action rather than a dry rendition of the facts followed by many, many chapters of each character going through moves that can best be described as background information.

That being said, once things heated up, once it became apparent what the Daughter Cell truly was, the story enthralled me. The science is good, backed up by facts and adding a few facets that will grab a reader in a "That is not happening" reaction. Hartlove does know how to pull the reader into the lushness of Malaya, the differences between the rich foreigners in that country, and the oftentimes poor residents eking out a living. Once the pivotal point was reached, Hartlove stretched his writing muscles and keeps you on the edge of your seat. As each facet of this convoluted tale falls into place, you must wonder if it can get any worse.
I recommend this story to all science thriller buffs with a caveat. You must continue on past the beginning at all costs.