David Clarke

Rare Traits

With the right DNA, you could be free from disease, free from ageing.
You could even, perhaps, live for ever.
John Andrews has the right DNA …
John Andrews is an extraordinary man. Not only is he an artist as gifted as any of the old masters, but at almost 600 years old, he is as youthful as he was back in the 1460s.
Born Luca di Stefano in early Renaissance Tuscany, he is apprenticed to the great fresco painter, Piero della Francesca. Luca has perfect health, which he assumes is good luck, but as the years pass, he realises that there is something else very different about him: he is not ageing.
At sixty, his youthful looks become a threat to his life when a fanatical and over-zealous Church wants him burnt at the stake as a servant of the Devil. Fleeing to Naples, he adopts a new identity and starts a new life, the first of many artistic personas through the centuries.
Fast forward to 2009 when John Andrews’ DNA is profiled. Once its full significance becomes clear, it is not only geneticists who are interested: there are others desperate for the secret of John’s longevity and they will stop at nothing to get it.
Set throughout the world during the past six centuries, Rare Traits is a fast-moving thriller with elements of sci-fi, fantasy and suspense. It interweaves art history, forensic science and DNA profiling with John Andrews’ lives as various artists. It traces his lovers, his families and his friends, and above all it traces the challenges he faces in order to survive. For no matter how long he lives, one thing is certain: John can never stop looking over his shoulder.

615 printed pages
Original publication



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