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Kevin Guilfoile, Cast of Shadows

I recently finished reading Kevin Guilfoile's debut novel, Cast of Shadows, and enjoyed it quite a bit. As a thriller, it's a bit out of my snooty literary fiction element, but Guilfoile goes far beyond genre in telling his story. It's not even really a whodunnit, with the killer being identified halfway through. Of course it has a crime scene investigation, private detectives and an intrepid newspaper reporter. But it goes beyond those stock elements to incorporate many other angles, including reproductive technology, medical ethics, philosophy, alternate reality, religious fanaticism and, above all, a family--primarily a grieving father and the dubious extremes he will go to find the truth.

But even the truth is a slippery thing, as the protagonist finds out. As is the morality or immorality of a given act: time and again, an immoral act is committed in pursuit of "the greater good" by which, it could be argued, the original smaller act becomes morally justified. The final scene, during which a critical fact is withheld from the protagonist, leaving him with merely the illusion of knowing the truth (which in his case is better than knowing the truth itself), is a quietly striking scene of humanity and compassion.

Cast of Shadows is a very well-written, nimbly-plotted and thoughtful work of fiction. Fine job, Mr. Guilfoile.

April 25, 2006 in Books | Permalink