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.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from Stephen Clark’s Hands Up, presented as a crime thriller I’m not sure that would be the correct description – this is more in the way of crime and character drama, with psychological elements and human tragedy laid bare.
This is multi arc, told in both first and third person, a clever way of linking the reader to different characters in different ways. Themes of racial profiling, tension and assumptions, runs through the narrative as we see the affects of a police shooting on three people central to it.
Jade’s fight for justice and revenge whilst fighting her own inner demons is very compelling, then we have Kelly, finding himself thrust into the limelight as the voice of protest and Ryan, the shooter, desperately trying to understand how it came to this.
These three are all engaging and the author explores motives and prejudices well, asking the difficult questions and making you, the reader, consider what the answers may be. I was fully immersed and the writing is very good.
I think more show less tell could have honed things more, Hands Up showcases an author who is one to watch, certainly the storytelling and grasp of emotion is excellent- pare down, focus in and lose some of the white noise and you’d have a near perfect read. Having said that Hands Up is a very good and thought provoking story, I’ll look forward to seeing what Stephen Clark does next.