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White Male Infant    by Barbara D'Amato order for
White Male Infant
by Barbara D'Amato
Order:  USA  Can
Forge, 2003 (2002)
Hardcover, Paperback
* *   Reviewed by G. Hall

Barbara D'Amato has had a long and successful mystery writing career with her well-written award-winning series about Chicago journalist and sometime sleuth Cat Marsala. Recently she branched out with Authorized Personnel Only, a gripping mystery / thriller about a Chicago policewoman. The stand-alone thriller White Male Infant marks yet another change for her.

The focus on international adoptions is a welcome variation to the usual thrillers about serial killers, religious cults or terrorism. Initially we meet New York pathologist Dooley McSweeney and his UN lawyer wife Claudia as they agonize over the possibility that their adopted 4-year old son Teddy has leukemia. Fortunately the test results are negative, but some odd biopsy slides trigger unease in the trained Dooley. He becomes suspicious of the circumstances of Teddy's adoption from Russia (arranged mostly by Claudia) and grows more alarmed as he digs further.

At the same time several other stories converge with Dooley's. CNN journalist Gabrielle Coulter and her photographer partner and lover Justin are in Moscow to film a segment on international adoptions. Justin is brutally murdered in their hotel room and their video equipment and film destroyed. At first Gabrielle feels this is just a random tragedy, but as she studies film the murderers did not uncover, she becomes suspicious. A third story involves FBI agents assigned to pose as a prospective adoptive couple.

The nexus of all the stories is the same international adoption agency, and the key players all end up in wintertime Moscow. D'Amato does an excellent job of moving among the various stories and maintaining suspense. She poignantly describes the very sad situation for millions of abandoned orphans who live in appalling conditions in orphanages in many developing world countries. She educates the reader while also greatly entertaining her.

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