Forge, Sep 2002, 25.95, 400 pp.
In Hawthorne, Massachusetts Rachel and Martin Whitman live good lives as expected of a successful CEO. They are the “Jones” that the John and Jane Does try to emulate with one exception, their son Dylan suffers from learning disabilities that make tasks most people take for granted quite difficult to accomplish. Rachel feels guilt for her child's condition because in college she used an LSD-like substance that obviously damaged her offspring.
Like most parents, Rachel will do anything to improve her son's lifestyle though Dylan is a contented boy. When her neighbor implies that an experimental procedure could probably enhance Dylan's intelligence capacity, Rachel desperately leaps at this hope. As Rachel uncovers information about the process, she becomes concerned with the “brains” she meets as they seem unhappy and lack passion though filled with Solomon like intelligence. She faces the moral dilemma between intelligence vs. happiness even as Detective Greg Zakarian investigates the disappearances of several children that intersect with Rachel's path.
As the mother of a learning disability child, this reviewer fully appreciates how Rachel feels about her son. The fast-paced novel will fascinate and frighten the audience, as fans will empathize with Rachel's dilemma that turns the tale into more than just another chiller; this story line will hit the gut. Gary Braver offers no easy ELIXIR, but fans of medical thrillers will want to read what may prove to be the sub-genre's top book of the year. However, be aware that if you have a situation similar to Rachel, consider whether you really want to start this novel because GRAY MATTER will haunt you afterward as few books will.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner