The Consciousness Plague Paperback – Aug 16 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
In this latest, disappointing case from the files of forensic investigator Phil D'Amato (after 1999's The Silk Code), a flu epidemic is sweeping the nation and young women are turning up naked and strangled in New York City's Riverside Park. Oddly, several witnesses to the murders, all recent flu sufferers, seem to have trouble remembering what they've seen. Then D'Amato's girlfriend comes down with the flu and forgets that he's recently proposed to her. Later, D'Amato himself catches the bug and discovers that a day has disappeared from his memory as well. What ties these bouts of short-term amnesia together turns out to be not simply the flu but a new wonder drug, Omnin. D'Amato soon finds himself investigating both the serial murders and the increasingly serious possibility that Omnin and other advanced antibiotics may in fact be on the verge of destroying human memory. Unfortunately, Levinson's flat prose and almost tension-free narrative prevent this novel from taking off. The murders, which all occur offstage, and the victims, none of whom we really care about, fail to engage. The medical mystery, although not without some intellectual interest, is equally lacking in tension. The author also has the annoying habit of pulling rabbits out of hats. Top-notch bacteriologists and mysterious millionaire benefactors repeatedly turn up to render expert testimony or twist the arms of a hostile FDA committee when needed. Levinson is widely considered to be one of the better new SF writers, but this novel won't enhance his reputation. (Mar. 13)Forecast: The book could be targeted to fans of medical thrillers and police procedurals, though neither audience is likely to be that impressed.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Forensic detective Phil D'Amato finds his investigation into a series of brutal killings interrupted by the onset of a bizarre plague that leaves its victims without portions of their memories, a phenomenon that slowly erodes the underpinnings of society and civilization not to mention crime control. The second outing for the hero of The Silk Code pits D'Amato against criminals and colleagues as he tries to unravel a puzzle with its roots in ancient history and its genesis in the evolution of consciousness itself. Levinson's intelligent blend of police procedural and speculative fiction should appeal to fans of mystery and sf and belongs in most libraries.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
The story is an engrossing mystery that weaves together serial strangulation murders of young college women in Manhattan and mysterious memory gaps triggered by a new antibiotic that seems to attack unknown microorganisms that unify the bicameral human brain.
The reader comes away entertained and educated in such diverse (yet related by the author's erudition) subjects as communication via the channels of the left and right brain, Marshall McLuhan, the essence of art, the successive (possible) rediscoveries of America by the Phoenicians, Irish (Celtic) monks, and Vikings, and a popular brand of perfume.
Most of the action occurs in New York City but the West Coast, the Midwest and Europe are included as locales. We learn about the importance of Lindisfarne, where one of my favorite illuminated manuscripts, the Lindisfarne Gospels, originated. We are introduced to the hypothesis that the Phoenicians, on their way to North America, taught the Celts to write.
Each revelation, no matter how esoteric, enriches the weave of the mystery, and draws the reader in deeper. Thus this excellent page turner also triggers awareness of many fascinating areas of communication. There is also a well developed supporting cast including police, academics and a politician or two.
I came away feeling enriched and entertained. The Consciousness Plague is a good read. Buy it.
The secondary story of the homicide investigation is disjointed from the main plot line. What the characters forget seems to have little relevance to the investigation, though author Levinson tries to force it anyway. Almost from the onset, D'Amato's character believes the memory loss phenomenon is related to the Riverside stranglings, and so Levinson sets out to prove it. Unfortunately, he fails to make the connection. Even at his finest moments, it is quite a stretch to see the effects on Omnin in the murder investigation. It is sheer coincidence that the people his detective queries in his memory investigation end up being criminally involved in the killings.
The discussion of how the human brain relates to memory and how memory affects history was as close as Levinson got to intriguing. The medical aspects and police investigation were definitely lacking. His writing style is flat and the plot has too many weaknesses to be enticing. The climax is anything but climactic and the story just winds down to a conveniently opportune ending. Perhaps Levinson fell victim to his fictional adversary-memory loss-as this book is anything but memorable.
Reviewed by Maili Montgomery, Mystery Ink
Most recent customer reviews
This is the first book I've read by this author and it's a sequel, although this didn't diminish my enjoyment of the book. Read morePublished on April 12 2004 by Addison Phillips
This mystery has an interesting scientific premise: a medication is killing bacteria that enable the brain to remember. Read morePublished on Jan. 31 2004 by M. A Michaud
In addition to his seeming clumsiness with words, this is
modern science fiction by a white, middle aged writer who
is now using the standard template of comtemporary SF... Read more
The science was credible enough to sustain the story. The writing wasn't. Ham-handed exposition and dialogue that belies a tin ear for conversation are just two of the things... Read morePublished on Aug. 19 2003 by Goldie
What do forensic science, ancient Phoenicians, a New York serial killer, and amnesia all have in common? Read morePublished on July 22 2002 by Jeffrey J. Lyons
Paul Levinson mixes all sorts of goodies together to produce this triumphant return of Phil D'Amato: the origins of the alphabet, theories of consciousness, viral plagues, and... Read morePublished on July 18 2002 by Peeter Cummins
I tend to work long, long hours in the software industry. I can be hard on books. I like creative and complex stories. Read morePublished on June 26 2002 by Kate Savage
Even if you're like me and you've never read the previous Phil D'Amato stories, The Consciousness Plague will draw you in. It's an engaging, intellectually thrilling novel. Read morePublished on April 11 2002 by Andrew Marino
Well, Phil D'Amato and Paul Levinson have done it again. I was a big fan of Levinson's first novel, The Silk Code, which introduced NYPD investigator D'Amato - a sharp forensic... Read morePublished on March 24 2002 by Henry Ehrman