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Dangerous Notes

by Gillian Bradshaw

(Severn House, £19/US$27, 283 pages, hardback; published August 2001; ISBN: 0727857576.)

Rating: "A-" -- a very nice near-future SF medical/musical(!) thriller.

"They arrested me on the train to France..." Meet Valeria Thornham, pretty music student, promising young composer -- and threat to public safety?

Valeria, brain-damaged as an infant, was successfully treated with Cicnip-C -- "cerebral implantation of cloned neural progenitor cells." Now, in 2032, a Cicnip-C patient has turned mass-murderer, the media are in a frenzy about "cloned-brain psychos", and the Ministry of Health is in a panic....

Val is hustled to the posh Laurel Hill Centre for Cognitive Research, where the odious Professor Bernet plans to use her for brain research -- with a threat of lobotomy if she doesn't cooperate. But Val is a fighter, and with the help of sympathetic staff, she reaches an accommodation of sorts with the Evil Genius. There are clever twists en route, a new love won and lost, and some very nice passages on music: its performance, composition and place in human culture. It wouldn't be fair to reveal the ending, but it's fast and furious. Here's a clue: music really does soothe the savage breast...

This is Bradshaw's second SF outing, following her less-successful The Wrong Reflection (2000). Bradshaw is better-known as a historical and fantasy novelist, but I predict she'll be well received by Nancy Kress and LE Modesitt SF fans. Bradshaw may be new to SF, but she's an experienced, smooth, economical storyteller. I'll be looking for her next book -- and I should go back and read some of her historicals.


Review by Peter D Tillman; More of Peter D Tillman's reviews can be found at: SF Site and Google "Peter D. Tillman" +review for many more!

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