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'The Enclave' a clean sci-fi thriller

"THE ENCLAVE," by Karen Hancock, Bethany House, 496 pages, $13.99

Christian fiction is growing in popularity, but it's not all about pioneers in the Canadian west or the Amish in America.

It seems that there is no topic left behind in this genre.

In "The Enclave," author Karen Hancock offers up a science-fiction thriller that brings just as much action and suspense as other books outside the Christian fiction world.

Working at the Kendall-Jakes Longevity Institute is a dream come true for Lacey McHenry, who sees it as the start of a new life and career. But taking care of frogs isn't exactly what she was planning on, and when a disturbed man breaks into the labs late at night, Lacey starts to see the institute differently.

The break-in becomes part of an elaborate cover-up that has Lacey questioning her own sanity. Going against the advice of the institute director, Lacey turns to a brilliant but bumbling geneticist, Cameron Reinhardt, for help.

As strange things begin to happen on a regular basis, the two realize they must work together to solve the mysteries buried deep beneath the institute's halls. What the duo finds is a whole other world that rocks them to the core and leaves them questioning their deepest beliefs.

No doubt about it, Christian themes are prevalent throughout "The Enclave." But Hancock artfully weaves them into the story, making them feel natural rather than an afterthought.

What's a little harder to believe is Hancock's world-within-a-world concept. While probably deliberate on the part of the writer, this concept takes a while to play out, and impatient readers may struggle with it. Once the pace picks up, however, it becomes more plausible and enjoyable.

Like other thrillers, "The Enclave" features violence and death, but it is perhaps one of the cleanest sci-fi books out there, making it a good option for squeamish readers or those looking for a PG-rated action book.

e-mail: jharrison@desnews.com