How would you feel about the possibility of the federal government investing hundreds of millions of dollars to build a new research facility in your community -- one that would bring in about 500 new jobs and an estimated $6 billion into the local economy over the next 20 years?Sounds like a no-brainer, doesn't it?Of course, there is almost always a downside to every "too good to be true gift" from Washington. What if the new facility would study dreaded diseases like Ebola and anthrax? You might have second thoughts about having these deadly organisms in your backyard.If you lived in Butner, a few miles north of Durham, these questions are not academic ones. The people who live there are wrestling with them today.Similar emotional questions are an important part of the plot of a novel released a few days ago by North Carolina publisher John F. Blair. "Captivity" by Debbie Lee Wesselmann is set near Orangeburg in the South Carolina low country. The state university established a refuge for chimpanzees that have been discarded because they are no longer useful for medical experiments or exploitation by roadside zoos or private collectors of wild animals.Who would object to having these "cute" human-like animals in a nearby facility? Lots of people object when, notwithstanding locked gates and electric fences, several chimpanzees escape and the neighbors learn that the animals are strong and can be fierce and dangerous when confronted by humans. That risk is compounded by HIV infection in some of the animals.The "not-in-my-backyard" factor is only one strand of a richly complex tapestry that Wesselmann's novel weaves. "Captivity's" central character, Dana Armstrong, is the director of the South Carolina Primate Project. Her passion for the welfare of chimpanzees comes from a traumatic experience with a chimpanzee in her childhood. As a part of an academic experiment, her father brought a chimpanzee into the family, where it was treated as Dana's little sister. Dana and Annie (the chimp's name) learned to communicate with each other using a modified American Sign Language. The experiment showed that Annie could function much like a human. She came to have many of the kind of feelings and attitudes that we think of as "human." Dana came to love Annie, not as a pet, but as a sister.But when a sisterly fight turns mean and Annie bites Dana and severely injures her arm, Annie is sent away.To where? That question haunts Dana throughout her life. She knows that whatever happened to Annie, probably medical experiments and certainly confinement in cages, was horrible for a creature that had been raised as a human. Dana blames herself for Annie's fate.Dana seeks to atone for the guilt she feels. Caring for a group of chimpanzees is a complicated challenge. Returning them to their African homeland and releasing would be a death sentence since they are totally unprepared to survive in the wild. Keeping them confined in cages would be cruel, but some are too dangerous to let out of a small confined area. Dana develops a program to prepare the animals to live together in the "semi-wild."Wesselmann's clear description of the challenges Dana faced, together with a story of family turmoil, romance, crime, academic politics, ambition and treachery kept me riveted until the end.