Warner, Mar 2001, 25.95, 517 pp.
After thirteen years of living with Umber the bonobo ape, Jim Dutton feels the primate is part of his family, a sister to his human daughter Brett. Umber communicates with his family through computers and sign language. Over the years, Umber has developed a distinct personality with a sense of humor and a bit of flamboyance.
Two events shatter Jim's complacent world. He learns that Umber's owners Smyth-Archer Chemists somehow changed and enhanced his “child” and other bonobo apes into something more human than ape. Worse than accepting that revelation, SAC demands he return Umber to them. Rather than meekly handing Umber over, Jim, accompanied by his two children, travels to Africa where SAC has a facility allegedly helping endangered species. Once Jim realizes the true objective of this remote site, he knows he places himself and his charges in danger from a corporate group that will do anything for silence to prevail.
DARK INHERITANCE is an exciting genetic engineering tale that never eases up on the throttle. The story line is fast-paced and refreshing, especially the scientific and investigative aspects of the plot that is not just anther Moreau rehash. The Duttons are a warm, heroic family who readers will hope that SAC fails in their efforts to break them up. Though SAC's vision seems myopic, W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O'Neal Gear provide a smart, spry splicing of the gene pool story.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner