03 January 2020

Hands Up

Photo of the book cover of Hands Up by Stephen Clark
Contemporary Fiction

By Stephen Clark

Paperback 294 pages
Publisher WiDo Publishing (28th Sept 2019)

📕My Review

Firstly I'll admit that Hands Up isn't what I'd normally read. I tend to sway more towards British crime and/or contemporary fiction. However, having read and enjoyed the author's previous novel, Citizen Kill, I was keen to see what he produced next.

Just for the record let me state that I'm located in the United Kingdom where we don't have The Second Amendment and 'the right to bear arms'. Shootings here are thankfully rare occurrences. In Hands Up, a young black motorist is shot dead after being pulled over by two white cops who then fabricate their version of events to reduce negligence charges.

Devastated by the needless shooting of Tyrell, his family seek justice and set out to prove his murder was racially motivated. As racial tensions mount throughout Philadelphia, two young people are thrust together in the most unlikely of circumstances. Will justice prevail or will Tyrell's murder have been in vain?

Top marks to the author for telling a story that needed to be told. Not only does the reader get to experience the viewpoints of Tyrell's sister Jade and father Kelly; we also hear from the cop who pulled the trigger, Ryan. The story is cleverly written so that the reader's allegiance shifts several times. 

Absent father and self-proclaimed reformed 'gangsta', Kelly turns up in the aftermath of the shooting to further complicate matters. But all too soon old habits die hard. Jade sees straight through his charade but has her own agenda.

I thought both Jade and Kelly were fully-developed characters but I had issues with the plausibility of Jade's actions towards her brother's killer. I thought a large dose of artistic licence crept in making the story less convincing. This was also the case with the final twist at the end. However, I ask myself would the book have been as gripping without these two inclusions? My truthful answer is 'no'. Sometimes it's best just to accept that real life follows a different path to fiction.

My thanks to author Stephen Clark for providing a copy of this book.            

Book Source: Review copy from the author
Rating ⭐⭐⭐

Other reviews:
Citizen Kill

📗The Blurb

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.

📘The Author

Photo of author Stephen Clark
Stephen Clark is a former award-winning journalist who served as a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times and as a politics editor for the Washington, D.C. bureau of FoxNews.com. As a reporter for the Utica Observer-Dispatch, he won a New York Newspaper Publishers Association Award of Distinguished Community Service for his investigation into the financial struggles of nonprofit services.

He also won a Society of Professional Journalists Award for Investigative Reporting at the Stamford Advocate for his series exposing an elderly grifter’s charity organization. Stephen grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia and now lives in North Jersey with his wife and son. He has a bachelor’s degree in communications from Arcadia University and a master’s degree in journalism from Syracuse University.

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