Borrowed Tides

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Reviews of Borrowed Tides (1 review)

5 - Excellent Review

Reviewer:

From Publishers WeeklyCombining Neanderthals and mechanical looms, cantaloupes and coded butterflies, Levinson's debut novel (he's also the current president of the ScienceFiction Writers of America) offers a flurry of amazing prehistoric technologies, demonstrating that the mysteries of our past can be just as fruitful asthose of our future. A series of strange deaths draws forensic detective Phil D'Amato (returning from Levinson's shorter fiction) ever deeper into an ancientand ongoing biological war. D'Amato's vacation in Lancaster, Pa., quickly gets serious when an Amish man is murdered, then D'Amato's good friend Mo turnsup dead. Before he dies, Mo tells of his investigation into the local Amish, of their homes lit by specially bred fireflies and their possible controlof deadly allergic reactions. The rest of the novel's first part works like an expanded short story as D'Amato gradually learns to take the Amish biotechnologyseriously. But after a harrowing rescue from incendiary fireflies, the main plot pauses, and its second part jumps back to eighth-century central Asia.This self-contained story follows young Gwellyn on his search to discover the secret of the Neanderthals, who may yet be alive. Blending exotic travelthrough the Byzantine and Islamic empires with Gwellyn's growing realization that the Neanderthals are far stranger than humanity ever imagined, this isthe novel's standout section. The book returns to the likable D'Amato for its remainder, as he pursues a bewildering array of murders, deceptions and ancientbioweaponsAall connected, somehow, in the recurrence of silk. Before its dramatic conclusion, Levinson's ambitious plot occasionally leaves his narratorAandhis readerAat sea in loose ends and expository dialogue, but abundant, clever speculations, which creatively explain gaps in both ancient history and biology,compensate handsomely, providing more wonders than many a futuristic epic. (Oct.)