Hands Up. Finished 1-12-2020, fiction, 272 pages, pub. 2019
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. from Goodreads
Police shooting unarmed men of color is a hot button issue and it is dealt with here in a measured way while still telling the story of what happens after the shooting. How do the parents and family have the strength to go on camera? How do the protests get organized? How is pressure applied to get an indictment? And what if the policeman, while guilty, is also a victim of things out of his control?
The story is told from three different perspectives and I think this worked extremely well. The sister, who was close to her brother, lashes out in anger. The absent father comes home to redeem himself. The police officer, whose complicated experience with racial issues leaves him drowning in guilt and alcohol. I found sympathy, lost sympathy and fought incredulity at different parts in the book.
The character that made the most sense to me was Kelly, the wayward street hustler who returns home under threat of his life even while burying his own son. His family, especially his daughter Jade, don’t want him there and he struggles to get out of the homeless shelter. When he does find a way to make himself useful you begin to worry if he can really change. His daughter doesn’t think so even as her mother considers bringing him back into the family.
It was an interesting story with a lot of moving parts.
Quick Question for author Stephen Clark. I had the opportunity to exchange a few emails with the author (who sent me a copy of his book) and I asked him one question I’m sharing with you. I think we can all relate to his last statement 🙂
What was your favorite book of 2019?
Most of the books I read last year were published in prior years, such as The Firm and The Runaway Jury by John Grisham. The most recently published book I read was Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup, which was released in 2018. And boy was it good! There was also a documentary on Elizabeth Holmes, the disgraced founder of Theranos. I’m currently reading Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber, which was published in 2019. But I’m not finished yet. However, the book I enjoyed reading the most in 2019 was, far and away, The Smack by Richard Lange. Superb crime novel published in 2017. He’s also one of my favorite authors. Sorry for the long answer. But when it comes to books, I usually don’t have short responses. 😂