January 08, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST

The Second Angel

Current Status
In Season
Philip Kerr
Henry Holt and Company
Sci-fi and Fantasy, Fiction
We gave it an A-

Take 2001, cross it with And the Band Played On, and you’ll have some idea of the basic plotline of the dystopian sci-fi thriller The Second Angel. The year is 2069, humanity is divided between a healthy, wealthy few and a mass of rabble infected with a fatal blood-borne virus, curable only by complete transfusion. Clean blood is the most valuable currency on earth, which is why the biggest blood bank in the universe is located on the moon (along with a notorious penal colony and a number of sex hotels). An entire industry has grown up around protecting said bank, and the best designer of protection both virtual and real is a ”clean” genius called Dallas, cherished employee of Terotech, beloved husband, and, unfortunately, father of a very sick baby daughter. Dallas’ daughter is his Achilles’ heel, and when his boss discovers her problem, murder and mayhem ensue — thanks to Terotech’s truly evil head of security. Forced to go AWOL from his job and his life, Dallas teams up with a motley crew of criminal bad bloods (all of whom, surprise, surprise, have good hearts) and plots a Robin Hood-like revenge: He’ll steal blood from the rich to sell to the poor. Aiding him is not just his merry corporeal band, but an unexpected (by our hero if not by the reader) inhuman source. Philip Kerr’s vision of the future is detailed, depressingly dark, and utterly absorbing. A-

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