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Red Devil 4    by Eric C. Leuthardt order for
Red Devil 4
by Eric C. Leuthardt
Order:  USA  Can
Forge, 2014 (2014)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

In Red Devil 4, Eric C. Leuthardt (himself a neurosurgeon and biomedical engineer) brings us a very technical SF thriller, in which an Odd Couple cop pairing with a neurosurgeon in tow are entangled (literally as well as in the quantum sense) in a struggle between two newly emergent artificial intelligences. One is determined to survive and grow at all costs, while the other feels loyalty to its creator.

That creator is renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Hagan Maerici, who struggles to balance the high demands of his work (he's very close to a breakthrough with an emergent neuromorphic artificial intelligence, a 'ghost child' he names Omid) with his rapidly failing marriage. As he fends off demands from his immediate superior to switch to more lucrative research, St. Louis deals with a series of inexplicable, horrific slaughters. The perps are all prominent citizens without obvious motive.

The cops who catch the case are partners - detective Edwin Krantz, who is getting on in age, looks like 'a stretched bag of potatoes', and abhors technology, is paired with young, trim, tech-savvy, ex-Mavy SEAL Tara Dezner. The only links they can find between the gruesome killings are the words Red Devil and Dr. Maerici, whose old mentor, Dr. Devron, is one of the killers and who has links to them all.

The plot also follows Devron's son Trent. Crippled in a bad accident 'that made him into a marionette of prosthetic reconstruction', he finds solace in the virtual world, where he has recently encountered a powerful avatar. The blue woman with red eyes makes him feel like a real boy again.

Matters progress. There are more killings. Omid exhibits signs of independent thought and starts to help the detectives and his creator investigate the crimes. They eventually uncover a very disturbing new kind of virus, that is about to be unleashed globally. Determining who will prevail becomes a race against time and a conflict of loyalties. And along the way we find out the meaning of the story's title.

If you enjoy your SF heavy on the science and/or have an interest in the evolution of artificial intelligence, you don't want to miss Red Devil 4, both a thoughtful and a thrilling read.

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