Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Book Review: Prime Suspects: A Clone Detective Mystery by Jim Bernheimer

Title: Prime Suspects: A Clone Detective Mystery
Author: Jim Bernheimer
Publisher: EJB Networking
Release Date: 08/20/2012
ISBN: 1479165077

If I can be honest, I'll say that most sci-fi is wasted on the likes of me. I'm not a huge sci-fi buff, my experience with the genre peaking in high school with my lust for all things Star Trek. As a result, I'll openly admit that I'm really not the target audience for what I call "hard core sci-fi" (ie, anything on the level of Blade Runner), but my experience with Bernheimer has shown me that he's a rather clever author. So with that mindset, I had to give it a whirl. That this was partially typed on a phone keyboard was pretty neat as well.

Homicide Detective David Bagini awakens on a strange world only to discover that he is, in fact, the forty-second clone of the Bagini line. With no memories of why his Prime entered into a clone contract, he wants answers. The first problem is his Prime is dead and Bagini Forty-Two is in charge of the investigation. The second problem is all the clues point at a clone from his line and they already know all his tricks. How can he solve his own murder when every suspect has his name and face?

I have to admit that I was fascinated by the technology in this and some of the implications of the clones' treatment was something I could sink my teeth into. One thing that specifically intrigued me was that the original person (AKA Prime) could take a portion of each clone's pay. For some of the wealthier clones this might not automatically seem like a lot, but for the ones making less money this could mean the difference between living in a garbage dump or living in a place where muggings aren't the typical way of greeting someone. Is it right to do this, considering that each of the clones are a copy of you and your memories, especially since so many in the book's universe and IRL consider clones to be lacking souls? The concept of a clone's humanity is a reoccurring theme here and despite this being somewhat of a well-used theme in fiction overall, it's always one that can set up a story fairly well. Especially since the gist of the mystery is that one of the clones of David Bagini Prime supposedly killed him. Does this mean that the capability of murder is always there or is this something brought out by the situations the clone was placed in? No spoilers, but again- the discussion points for something of this nature are pretty endless. I could write an endless review just based around this idea and believe me, I was awfully tempted to.

Now for the story: like I said, I'm not a huge reader of anything beyond the lightest and fluffiest sci-fi stuff, but this was pretty good. It took me a while to kind of catch up to speed on all of the technology, but the idea behind a lot of this was pretty interesting. Clone therapy? I bet that could fill a book to itself. I also liked how detached 42 was at times, despite others thinking he might not be as such in the case with him discovering his Prime had a wife and daughter. What really sets this apart is how well the ending was. I could sort of predict what was ultimately going to happen to a certain degree, but that didn't make it any less fun. After all, isn't one of the goals of mystery lovers is to try to guess the whodunit, sometimes almost like it's a contest? (If you're curious, I was only half right, so point to Bernheimer on this one.) I still couldn't get the nagging feeling that I wasn't the right audience for this out of my mind, though, as I hit points where I kept wishing for a leather wearing witch or a vampire to jump out from somewhere. Fans of sci-fi will undoubtedly love this, though.

If you're looking for something nice to snuggle down with and read, give this one a try. Despite it not being my thing, I liked the mystery and I loved the questions it brought up.

3.7 out of 5 stars

(Reader copy provided by author)

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