Today I’m excited to bring you a spotlight post about Stephen Clark’s new novel, Hands Up. Read on to learn more about the book – and an extract!
Title: Hands Up
Author: Stephen Clark
Publisher: Wido Publishing
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’m not a murderer.
I’m not a murderer.
I’m. Not. A. Murderer.
Oh, who was I kidding? No matter how many times or ways I said that to myself in the
bathroom mirror, it didn’t change the fact that I had just killed someone. A teenager. An unarmed black teenager. Yet everyone kept telling me not to worry: My partner. My superiors.
The lawyer I just met. They all said it was a justified shooting. But truth be told, I wasn’t so sure about that. I wasn’t so sure about anything anymore – especially whether I’d get away with it.
I splashed some cold water on my face and studied my reflection in the grimy mirror. My eyes were bloodshot and my face paler than I had ever seen it. I looked like shit. Even worse, if I held my head at a certain angle, I resembled a mugshot of a deranged suspect I recently collared.
I smoothed my close-cropped brown hair and tried to pull myself together, but my mind was still in a fog. I needed to snap out of it – and fast. Internal Affairs would arrive at my station any minute now.
As I wandered back to the interrogation room, adrenaline was still burning through my veins like a raging wildfire. I should’ve never agreed to do an interview so soon after the shooting. My partner convinced me I would be able to remember all the details better if I gave a statement right away. But I didn’t realize I would get caught up in a whirlwind of emotions after the numbness of the initial shock wore off. I tried to buy myself some time by telling the lawyer for the police union that I needed a few days before I’d be ready to answer questions. But Harrison Clyne advised me against delaying the interview because he thought it would look suspicious. Although I had just met him, I had complete confidence in Mr. Clyne. Maybe it was his graying temples, professorial glasses or formal manner of speech. Whatever it might have
been that inspired confidence, it definitely wasn’t his shabby off-the-rack suit.
I hated the interrogation room we were waiting in. It reeked of body odor, stale cigarette smoke and burnt coffee. I looked around the poorly lit, windowless room and saw cigarette butts scattered on the floor. Even if I was a potential suspect in a criminal investigation, they didn’t have to treat me like a criminal. It was bad enough when my supervising sergeant took my .45 caliber Glock after escorting me back to the station. They could’ve held this interview in the carpeted conference room with the fancy swivel chairs that overlooked the parking lot. I suspected my bosses wanted to send me a message: I wasn’t going to get special treatment.
Finally, a man in a charcoal suit walked into the room and introduced himself as Nate Wiley, the internal affairs detective. My insides froze as soon as I saw that he was black. With supreme confidence and an unmistakable intensity, the detective took a seat in one of the metal folding chairs across from me and Harrison. Dark-skinned and bald with a vaguely sinister mustache, he appeared to be in his early 40s. He was articulate and polite, but I still didn’t trust him. There was no way he’d let me slide if I hesitated, even for the briefest second, in my recollection.
Detective Wiley pulled out a recorder and implored me to relax. Easy for him to say. Mr. Clyne had already informed me I might still need to testify before a grand jury and make formal statements to the FBI and the Justice Department. If any details changed later, they could easily catch the inconsistencies. I could hear my heart beating in my ears.
“Don’t worry,” the detective said. “I’m not expecting you to remember everything right away. Just tell me what you can for now.” He turned the recorder on and explained he was there to question me as part of an official investigation of the Philadelphia Police Department.
“Your statements can only be used against you in internal proceedings, not in any
subsequent criminal case,” he explained. “Unless you provide me with false statements. Do you understand?”
I swallowed hard and said, “Yes.”
“Good. So please state your name for the record.”
“My name is Ryan Quinn.”
“How long have you been with the Philadelphia Police Department?”
“And the name of your partner?”
“Sgt. Greg Byrnes.”
Wiley arched his eyebrows and tilted his head back as if I had just pledged allegiance to ISIS. “What is it?” I inquired.
“Nothing,” he said with a slight head shake. “I’ve just heard a lot of things about him.
How you like working with him?”
That was a good question. I had known Greg my entire life. At 46, he was still in great
shape with rugged good looks, although his bronze-colored mane of wavy hair was starting to thin. He was patrol partners with my father and a fixture at all of our family celebrations. As a family friend, Greg liked to joke around with everyone, engage in thoughtful conversations and dole out hugs. As a partner, he complained about everything, exploded into angry tirades and dished out his fair share of insults. I had never seen that side of him before and I didn’t know whether he had hid that from me all those years or if it was an act designed to prepare me for a life of patrolling the mean streets.
“It’s great,” I said. “He’s been teaching me everything he knows.”
Wiley nodded as if he knew exactly what that meant.
[About the Author]
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.