The Clarity is a first novel by Keith Thomas. Mr. Thomas writes for television and the movies. So his first book is not typical of a debut. I would categorize The Clarity as science-fiction horror story. If it were a movie, the release date would be late October. Warning: this book is full of suspense and some gruesome scenes.
A psychological experiment, primarily using orphans, is at the center of the plot. The main characters include a mother and daughter. The mom was part of the experiment, but escaped. Somehow the side-effects of the scientific trial are passed on genetically to her daughter.
Psychologist to the Rescue
The story begins in a run down complex on the outskirts of Chicago. A neighbor/babysitter asks Dr. Matilda Deacon visiting the building to look in on Ashanique, the daughter, while the mother, Jan, is at work. The brief visit intrigues the psychologist but the sudden return of the mom cuts the encounter short.
Unfolding events prompt Jan and Ashanique to contact Dr. Deacon for help. The action picks up as a murderer tracks all three down. The villain is also a former subject of the psychological study. He did not escape with the other participants of the science experiment. Now he is a killer controlled by the group continuing the study.
The plot has several twists and turns. A romantic interest for Dr. Deacon, a local policeman, enters the story. Kojo Omaboe serves as both a protector and a sounding board for Matilda. Their relationship lends reality to the story.
The sci-fi aspect of The Clarity revolves around the experiment. The scientists were focused on the brain. Both drugs and electroshock were used on the subjects. Some of the patients react differently and become the Null. This leads to great conflict with The Null patients seeking revenge.
Memories and flashbacks are a major part of the book. The characters affected by the experiment are bombarded by reflections of past history, not necessarily their own. A key to the plot is the recovery of a chemical equation which would negate the memories. And the negative side effects.
Keith Thomas strikes terror in the reader’s heart with some of his scenes. Yet other parts of The Clarity are akin to existentialism. The idea of memory tracing back through DNA is hard to grasp. But as the side story of Dr. Deacon’s dementia ridden mother indicates, the memory process of the brain is still an unknown and uncontrolled. Who knows what powers the brain may hold?
The Clarity accurately conveys the threshold science is standing at with respect to unlocking the mysteries of the brain. Thomas weaves reality and future unknowns in a masterful way. The one caveat is the many gruesome scenes. They are graphic. The tortures sent chills through my body. I am not sure I could handle a film version unless my eyes were closed! If you want an edge of your seat thriller, The Clarity fits the bill.