Rating: 5 of 5
Author: Douglas E Richards
Format: Hardcover, Kindle
After witnessing the brutality of a heartless psychopath on her family, Erin Palmer grows in her obsession to understand, identify and “cure” psychopathy. As with any obsession, Erin’s actions become ethically questionable as she pushes the boundaries on experimentation with prison inmates. Convinced she is getting closer to a Cure but at the same time jeopardizing lives, her breakthroughs come at yet another price – the attention of powerful forces who either want to help or hinder her progress. Soon Erin learns the shocking truth – her reality is not what she believed it to be and the result of her work has implications far beyond what she would have ever imagined. On the run to protect her work and her life, she is faced with the ultimate choice.
Douglas E Richards latest novel, The Cure, is a genre mashup. It begins solidly as a thriller and about a third of the way in introduces substantial sci/fi elements which carryon throughout the rest of the novel. For those looking for just a thriller this might be a bit of a surprise, but for the reader who enjoys books of this nature, they will find it engaging and thought provoking. For me, the subject of psychopathy, its prevalence, characteristics, and degrees to which it is exhibited as well as its implications was fascinating. Questions of ethics in human experimentation – does the end justify the means, which in the abstract may seem a simple answer but when applied to loved ones, our family and friends, is quite different. The discussion and references to “trolleyology” thought experiments were intriguing and I found myself Googling and taking the various tests associated with these philosophical questions.
To me a testament to how “good” a book is dependent on a few factors – if I can’t put it down, if I think about it long after the last page is read, if I do follow-up research on its themes after, and if I discuss it with others. In the case of The Cure, all of these were true. I look forward to Richards’ next book.
Rating: 5 of 5 (RMBOA Recommended)
Author: Douglas E. Richards
Format: Kindle, Paperback
Determined to fight for a greater humanity but knowing the megalomanic side effects her IQ boosting technology can create, Kira Miller and her husband David Desh, along with their colleagues, set up a hidden organization to create their breakthroughs. Aptly named Icarus, after the Greek god who flew too close to the sun due to his hubris, Kira is careful to the point of paranoia in allowing only those who meet the strictess criteria for selflessness to become a part of their plans. So strict are her rules, that none of the original founding members including herself or David would even meet them. And when their organization is suddenly found and they are hunted once more, the only explanation is someone with enhanced intelligence is behind the plot to destroy them. But Kira knows that is impossible as she has accounted for every IQ pill there is, unless the one betraying them is from within, perhaps even an enhanced versions of one of themselves whose hapless everyday self is unaware they are the betrayer?
I have to admit, I loved “Wired” and after reading it wrote that I had no idea how one could write an effective sequel but Richards has gone way beyond what I could have imagined. Amped picks up where Wired left off and this volume is jam packed full of twists and turns, action, betrayal and plenty of philosophical head scratchers that I found myself up late at night thinking through their implications. It is these nuggets of intellectual insight that I love best about this book. One of my favorite examples, and one that still haunts me, involves a man who dies, goes to the afterlife and can pursue his wildest dreams for all eternity – but eternity can be a long time and the end of this tale is chilling. This anecdote is just one of many that are well woven and infused into Amped whose plot is rich but implications are far reaching. Some reviewers note they figured out the end, and I admit I did as well, but it wasn’t until I was well into the book and at the end of the day, so what! This was a great read and one I’ll be revisiting and talking about with friends and family for some time.
Great stuff. Bring on this next one!
Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Author: Larry Kahn
Format: Kindle, Paperback
Busting open the hotel door, Frank Paine finds a woman gagged and bound to the bed as a black-masked man stands over her while a tripod mounted camera records the rape. The masked man claims the entire affair is a role play they had both agreed to through an online BDSM chat room. The girl, however, thought she was simply living out a non-contact encounter. In reality, both were setup by a third party stalking them online. Worse, Frank learns his own former online personality – the King of Paine – is potentially be used as a part of these crimes. Meanwhile, Roger Martin, a washed-up former Pulitzer Prize winning journalist follows a series of leads regarding the recent disappearance of several elderly chronically ill high profile individuals. Though they don’t know each other, Frank and Roger’s lives are about to be thrown together as both work to solve two mysteries linked at their core.
“The King of Paine” by Larry Kahn is a complex, compelling, fast paced and intriguing thriller that will have you turning the pages well into the early morning. The writing is crisp and pops off the page. This novel is not, however, not for the prudish. Online sex chat rooms and alternative BDSM lifestyles are a focal point for most of the book. In fact, this facet overshadows the book’s other central theme regarding end-of-life illness management and elderly respect issues. An odd combination for sure but Kahn makes the story work because of his great characters and ability to keep readers guessing throughout.
This was almost a five star book for me. My holdout was that I felt the fatal disease management theme was not as well developed as I would have liked. Having said that, at $0.99 on Kindle this book is an incredible deal. For a good mystery/thriller, readers can’t go wrong with The King of Paine at this amazing price.
Note: A complimentary copy of this work was provided in return for a review.