The Enclave, by Karen Hancock, dishes up an all-you-can-eat buffet of drama, deception, intrigue and suspense. The layers of characters and plot deliciously entice the reader to want to know how the latest twist gets assimilated into the mix. The pages will be smoldering as you work your way through this multi-course meal.
The Kendall-Jakes Longevity Institute is a cutting-edge research facility in the field of the genetics of aging. Though the man in charge, Parker Swain, has had some ethical problems in his past, the institute is now a prestigious place to work and study. The sprawling campus boasts learning and research facilities, a theater and even a spa for the ridiculously rich to enjoy the latest treatments in youthfulness and their pursuit of…well… longevity.
Lacey McHenry is Kendall-Jakes’ newest hire, getting her foot into the door as a research assistant to the brilliant geneticist, and rather absent-minded-professor, Cameron Reinhardt. She is also the victim of a bizarre assault, alone in the lab one night. However, all the “powers that be” are quick to brush it under the carpet and blame it on the history of mental problems that she suddenly discovers are in her file. Problems that weren’t there before, because they didn’t exist. Or did they?
The mind games being played are baffling, almost convincing. The only person that is willing to stand by Lacey is that quirky Dr. Reinhardt. However, he isn’t given much credence by the others, and is certainly not part of the hierarchy, because he is a born again Christian.
He is also a man running from a past that is all too suddenly colliding with the events that rapidly begin unfolding in the corridors of Kendall-Jakes. The conspiracy and the secrets that hunt down Lacey and Cameron have far reaching roots, and the two soon discover they have stumbled on just the tip of an enormous iceberg of evil. Faith is put to the test as the only way out of the mess will be divine intervention. Yet at times, God seems very far away.
Though it may seem as if I'm divulging too much of the plot, let me assure you that Ms. Hancock superbly builds her characters and their relationship, while weaving a very complicated tale. What I have shared is merely an elaborate dust-jacket scenario. In fact, one thing I loved about the book was that it was so long! At nearly 500 pages it has a lot to digest-- which I appreciate when a story is as well written as this. I just don’t want a really good book to end (sigh!). I get attached.
Finally, I truly applaud the author’s ability to intertwine the elements of Christianity without it feeling forced or obligatory. Some Christian stories greatly lack much substance in this area, though I realize it often depends on the narrative itself. However, Ms. Hancock managed to explain the plan of Salvation in a natural way, over the course of the tale; even a non-believer would have a basic understanding of God’s plan for redemption by the end of the book.
Finishing the book-- though bittersweet to have to say good-bye to the characters and intrigue that I craved--left me feeling very full of wonder and quite satisfied at the same time. I would highly recommend this well written piece of fiction to all of you other thrill seeking bookworms like myself. It is gourmet prose!