Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Psychological police drama HANDS UP by Stephen Clark

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs here

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Hands Up by Stephen Clark

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4 out of 5 stars

An interesting crime novel that’s more psychological drama than thriller.  It centres around Ryan Quinn, a police officer who shoots and kills Tyrell Wakefield, a young black man pulled over in a routine traffic enquiry—or is it?  As the story progresses, we become more aware of racial profiling within the police, and especially that of Quinn’s partner, Greg.  More sinisterly, this same bigotry is present within the ‘civilian’ white families we meet in this book.

Also centre stage are Jade, Tyrell’s sister, and Kelly, his estranged father.  The story is written from these three points of view; Quinn is written in the first person, which totally worked for me, with Jade and Kelly in the third.  This also worked, I think, better than if Kelly and Jade had been in the first person as well.  They were all three-dimensional; Kelly, in particular, alternated in my head between being a basically decent guy who wanted to make up for some wrong choices in life, and an opportunistic creep. 

I very much liked how the truth about what happened that night, from Quinn’s point of view, came out only gradually, and that we saw the emotional effects of the case from all three sides.

When I began to read the book the first thing that struck me was that the author can certainly write; I was drawn in, immediately, though the first ten per cent includes a fair bit of telling-not-showing (when the writer tells the reader how someone is feeling/what their personality is like, rather than showing it in dialogue and actions), and, throughout, there is too much mundane detail—we don’t always need, for instance, to know what people were wearing, unless relevant, what they ate in restaurants (ditto), or how someone got from A to B.  I read in the notes at the back that the author is a (most successful) journalist, and this is evident; now and again, I felt as though he needed to be reminded that a novel’s flow can be improved by the omission of detail, rather than the inclusion of every fact.

Mostly, the plot kept me interested throughout, though I didn’t think the romantic involvement between Quinn and another character towards the end of the book was necessary; a friendship/sympathetic connection would have been enough, and more realistic; that it happened made both characters less credible, to me.  I also felt that Quinn’s previous romantic entanglement was too quickly and neatly disposed of.

On the whole, though, I liked this novel, and it has a lot going for it.  The issues of racial prejudice and police corruption were dealt with well, and though none of the characters were likeable, they were all fairly compelling.  I think that if Mr Clark were to learn the art of ruthless pruning during redrafts and observe how other writers create tension, he could produce something most memorable.

Book description

Officer Ryan Quinn, a rookie raised in a family of cops, is on the fast track to detective until he shoots an unarmed black male. Now, with his career, reputation and freedom on the line, he embarks on a quest for redemption that forces him to confront his fears and biases and choose between conscience or silence.

Jade Wakefield is an emotionally damaged college student living in one of Philadelphia’s worst neighborhoods. She knows the chances of getting an indictment against the cop who killed her brother are slim. When she learns there’s more to the story than the official police account, Jade is determined, even desperate, to find out what really happened. She plans to get revenge by any means necessary.

Kelly Randolph, who returns to Philadelphia broke and broken after abandoning his family ten years earlier, seeks forgiveness while mourning the death of his son. But after he’s thrust into the spotlight as the face of the protest movement, his disavowed criminal past resurfaces and threatens to derail the family’s pursuit of justice.

Ryan, Jade, and Kelly–three people from different worlds—are on a collision course after the shooting, as their lives interconnect and then spiral into chaos.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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