1,000 low- income pre-schoolers are given patterning, guidance, food supplements, and brainwashing based on the template of a Black Olympian born in Harlem, who is also a soldier, media giant and politician and a serial killer named Alexander Marcus. Patrick Emery is one of the now 13 year olds given this treatment without his knowledge. Then Marcus' evil followers invite 50 of the children to a summer camp in Arizona, because these children seem the most likely to follow their patterning and become killers. The bad guys who are planning to slaughter these kids don't know how very skilled these children are…
This report prepared by Julia Walter
Tor, Jul 2002, 24.95, 384 pp.
The thousand plus minority children are worse than at risk with the probability of even one of them making it astronomical. Thus, the theory of copying the behavior patterns that led to the incredible success and wealth of Alexander Marcus seems a likely winner to overcome the ravages of their environment.
The sociology experiment works as the children copy the key traits of their mentor to include his ambition, focus, and determination. However, along with the so-called positive imprints, the group also learns how to use and hide Alexander's ruthlessness and even darker secrets. Now each member of this select thousand possesses the skill, ability, and inclination to turn into a serial killer.
The story line grabs the reader from the start because of Steven Barnes' uncanny talent to make each member of his cast appear different so that the world becomes relative when seen through the different characters. Psychological horror fans will have a field day with this powerful tale that reveals nothing until the final period is struck by an author that is at the head of the class in 2002.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner