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Carlucci's Heart
Richard Paul Russo
Ace Books, 391 pages

Carlucci's Heart
Richard Paul Russo
Richard Paul Russo has won the Philip K. Dick Memorial Award for Subterranean Gallery, a Philip K. Dick Special Award for Carlucci's Edge, and has been short-listed for England's Arthur C. Clarke Award for his novel Destroying AngelsTerminal Visions is his first collection of short stories.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Ship of Fools
SF Site Review: Terminal Visions
Review of Destroying Angels
Review of Destroying Angels in German
Review of Subterranean Gallery
Review of Carlucci's Heart

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Donna McMahon

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Inspired by bio-disasters such as AIDS, Ebola and American medical insurance, SF writers have written a record number of plague novels recently. Carlucci's Heart by Richard Paul Russo is one of the better ones I've read so far.

Frank Carlucci, a veteran cop in mid-21st century San Francisco, investigates the death of a man named Tito only because Tito was a friend of Carlucci's daughter. Nobody else is interested in the peculiar death of a poor Mexican AIDS patient until Carlucci mentions "Cancer Cell", a mysterious renegade medical group which allegedly abducted Tito. Suddenly everyone is interested, but nobody will do anything except mutter dark hints. Then the daughter of one of the most powerful men in the city is murdered, and Carlucci begins to suspect that he's on the track of a medical crime which could kill millions of innocent people.

Russo's San Francisco is very Bladerunner, though clearly written by somebody who knows that city well. The "core" slums have been walled off like East Berlin and left to fester, while the business district hides behind imposing walls of private security and privilege. Carlucci himself is a member of the shrinking suburban middle class, thanks to a salaried job with benefits. But he knows all too well that everything he can do is not enough to keep his wife and daughters safe.

The characters in this book are strong, the writing is solid, and only a picky reader will probably notice that when the plot threads finally come together at the end of the book they don't make all that much sense. I won't give any spoilers, but I will say that Russo's story loses some of its impact when he moves away from his characters' immediate problems and focuses on global socio-political scenarios.

Copyright © 2002 Donna McMahon

Donna McMahon discovered science fiction in high school and fandom in 1977, and never recovered. Dance of Knives, her first novel, was published by Tor in May, 2001, and her book reviews won an Aurora Award the same month. She likes to review books first as a reader (Was this a Good Read? Did I get my money's worth?) and second as a writer (What makes this book succeed/fail as a genre novel?). You can visit her website at http://www.donna-mcmahon.com/.


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