The Gene Police
By Elliott Light
“The brutal murder of Jennifer Rice. The evidence: DNA found at the scene, DNA that belongs to a man long thought dead, and a shadowy fifty-year old photograph of a woman holding a baby taken at a near-by farm.
Shep Harrington is drawn into this legal quagmire by the arrival of his friend, and now client, Reggie Mason, a black state trooper, who admits that he obtained the DNA illegally. All Reggie wants Shep to do is to ask former residents of the farm it they remember anyone taking pictures or if they saw a woman with a baby. But simple requests are not easily contained. As Shep soon learns, the request brings him to the top of a slippery slope with an ill-defined edge. Question begets question, and the slide down the slope proves inevitable: What happened to the baby? Who is in the photograph? And who killed Jennifer Rice?
The answers lead Shep into a confrontation with the so called gene police, a confrontation fifty years in the making.”
The Gene Police by Elliott Light is a well-crafted story with a complex plot that brings to light a harsh reality many American’s probably won’t relish taking a closer look at. I’m not going to tell you what that reality is… you will have to read the book for yourself to understand what I am talking about, but I will say that I couldn’t help but nod my head in agreement with Mr. Light this morning when I realized he had a very valid point involving “eugenics.” If you aren’t familiar with that term right now, you will be by the end of this book. His dedication at the beginning of the story certainly hints at what is to come.
“To all those persecuted, harassed, bullied, kicked around, and otherwise treated unfairly because of the color of their skin, the shape of their face, or the slant of their eyes.”
As you read, or listen to the book…whichever method you choose. Try to remember that much of what Mr. Light discusses actually happened here in the United States. It is a part of our American History, a part of what contributed to the Holocaust, a contributing factor to our chaotic political environment and in that sense it is a part of our present as well.
The main character, Shep Harrington, is a good man with a troubled past who just seems to continually be drawn into situations he really should steer clear of. He and his law partner Robbie are asked by a friend to look into who took some old photographs. They agree and a twisted and gnarled plot begins to open up, leading the reader into a dark and gruesome past; a past that has been buried for 50 years and one that many want to remain buried.
Shep, is a complicated man. He’s been on both sides of the law. He also recently inherited a ton of money from his estranged father that he could live very well off of, instead he chooses to live in a run-down house rather than the mansion on his property where his elderly “residents” live. He could do anything, live anywhere but he has his sights set on re-opening a Poor Farm to help others. His willingness to help others along with his simple lifestyle are probably the only thing that saves him when the Tax Man comes calling with a bill of $750,000 in unpaid taxes….courtesy of his now deceased famous father.
What’s not to like about a character like that? Shep sees himself as a dark and troubled man, and yes he has a complicated past; however, he doesn’t turn anyone away who is in need of assistance. That makes him complex, true, but I don’t quite feel his darkness; perhaps that’s more apparent in the previous books in this series. Instead I get more of a feel for his generosity and good heart.
Oh, and Shep has cats…lots of cats; just a few more creatures in need of help that he doesn’t turn away. These critters end up being a fun addition to the book too. I don’t say that just because I love cats (don’t judge me) but because they become tertiary characters due to how Mr. Light treats them. He does the same with the house Shep initially lives in at the beginning of the book, that too becomes a character in and of itself and becomes an integral component to the plot at the end of the story.
As to the pace of this story, I really liked that. It rolls along at a steady pace, keeping the reader wanting to see what happens next and never losing the reader’s attention during the parts with less action. Not once did I find my mind wandering or wonder when the pace would pick up.
The resolution to the story was also very clever, I loved it. No, I’m not going to allude to what it was…but it was clever.
If I had to pick something to criticize, it would be this, character names. Yeah, I know I’m a picky picky bugger but it is something that came to my attention.
In this story we have two pretty important characters named Robbie and Reggie. Now, this may seem silly to bring up since one is a female lawyer and a potential love interest and the other is a male State Trooper but the names being so similar kept giving me slight pause. That’s a minor thing to point out and I’m not sure I even truly realized it was an issue until I sat down to write this review and found that I kept trying to call Robbie….Reggie in my mind when I would go back over the story in my head.
Over all though, I really loved this story and give it 4.5 out of 5 Stars.
Would I recommend The Gene Police? Oh heck yeah! Go get a copy for yourself; you’ll be glad you did and as always, let me know what you think of the story too, I’d love to talk about it!
This book is available on AMAZON.COM today!
NOTES FROM A GRAPHIC ARTIST REGARDING THE COVER
I love this cover! It’s bold and simple at the same time…very effective at drawing the eye throughout the entire cover. This cover proves you don’t have to get fancy with the fonts either. Clean, crisp and well-spaced can be much more effective (as it is here) than fancy, bold, in-your-face lettering. Well done to the graphic artist on this cover! I also love the lack of color providing a symbolic hint to what is contained within the story, way to go!