12/08/1997 at 01:00 AM EST
by Robert A. Burton
Artie Singleton was just getting used to being alone. His father had died when he was 3, his mother only a month ago. He was filling the void with a few slightly loopy friends and Shazam, his San Francisco store known for its rare comic books and hypertext CD-ROM fiction. But a misdirected letter changes all that. Seems that Artie is a clone, created in a lab by well-meaning scientist friends when his parents were unable to conceive. What's more, those same friends made nine others just like him.
Can anyone be an individual when he has nine carbon copies? How much of our destiny lies in the capricious-ness of our chromosomes? Artie has little time to ponder the ensuing questions. When the news gets out, the same identity crisis that led Artie to self-examination leads another of the 10 to murder. As the clones drop one by one—sort of a Ten Little (Identical) Indians—Artie sets off in search of both the killer and his sense of self. A furiously quick read, Cellmates is that rarest of thrillers: taut and thoughtful. (Russian Hill, $19.95)