Hands Up By Stephen Clark (Review)

As you stare down the barrel of the gun you can’t help but think, “Why?” You weren’t driving recklessly and your rear lights work fine. So why were you pulled over? And then it dawns on you. It’s not how you were driving or that you broke any laws. It’s simply because of the colour of your skin. An horrific truth that so many people seem to be punished for, even in today’s society. It’s maddening.


Today dear readers I am reviewing Hands Up (Published 10 Sept. 2019) By Stephen Clark. A big thank you to the author for my copy to review. Always appreciated. Let’s dive into the underworld of corrupt cops and murder, prepare to get your hands a tad bloody dear reader. 

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.

Hands Up


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 neighbourhoods. 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.


My Review

Told by three characters from different worlds, the reader watches their paths collide and spiral into chaos. From the moment you begin reading you are standing at the scene of the crime. Heart pounding and hands shaking you are in a state of shock but are desperate to learn how you ended up in this situation. Clark piques the reader’s curiosity and as the sirens grow louder you feel a sense of fear for what they will bring. 

Ryan is constantly plagued with guilt from shooting Tyrell. He desperately wants to do the right thing but is torn between being loyal to his partner Greg and being sentenced for his crime. He spends his time throughout the book searching and looking for redemption for his wrongdoings. He forces himself to confront his fears and stand on his own two feet. He is a determined character but struggles with the clash of the two different worlds he becomes involved in. As he stumbles down a dark path of drinking and resenting his partner, he finds himself at the hands of the only person who can save him. Tyrell’s sister Jade. Can you forgive the killer of your brother in the name of love? Clark directs this question to the reader and we follow a tumultuous romance built upon grief and loneliness.. But can love really conquer all? 

I almost wished someone would have shot me. As I watched everyone eating their food, cackling louder and louder, I felt the walls closing in on me. I wanted to pull the white tablecloth and spill the champagne and food on everyone’s laps. Then I heard Dr. Dakota’s voice in my head telling me to become a liberator. It suddenly occurred to me what I needed to do.

Jade is an interesting character. She has a dark history and self-harms when she feels like she is losing control. The pain helps, it soothes her. She wants revenge for her bother and looks into any means possible to obtain it. She is angry, hurt but also lonely and lost. Jade struggles with who she is and is scared when she realises that she’s fallen in love with the worst person possible. But as the story progresses she grows stronger and relights her fighting spirt to stand up for what she believes in. She is an inspiring character and speaks her mind which is welcoming to read. It takes a bit of time but she slowly opens up and becomes a little more vularble when she falls for Ryan. Upon realising she shouldn’t love him, she builds up her walls again and seeks justice for her brother. She is a complex character with many layers to her but she is a delight to read as she is quick witted and intelligent. 

Kelly returns with a ton of baggage trailing behind him. He got into a dangerous business and did a lot of unforgivable things, including leaving his family behind for another woman. But now he is returning broken and about to bury his son. He wants to do the right thing but old habits die hard and slowly the reader watches him fight with his inner demons. We are desperate for him to succeed in his mission of putting all his wrongs right. No matter how hard he tries, he keeps ending up with blooded fists. He’s angry and distraught from recent events and can’t see any way different from the old life he used to know. It’s a shame to see, as at points he really does try to make his life better. But sometimes people just won’t change no matter how hard they try. It’s human nature to revert back to what we know and is familiar. 

Clark’s character development throughout the story deepens with each chapter. We learn of backstories and past relationships that work effectively in the story. I enjoyed reading the characters’ interactions with each other. Some knowing who others are and some completely unaware they are sleeping with the enemy. Clark has given much thought and research into who his characters are and what they each represent. It’s engaging to read as you feel as if you personally know them and sympathise with their torment.

The sensitive and taboo subjects that arise in the story bring attention to how blind society still seems to be. We are often of the mind that if we stick our head in the sand and simply ignore what’s actually happening around us, then it will go away. But it won’t. It won’t ever disappear until we deal with it and put a stop to the madness. Clark is vocal about these issues,  grief, racism and self-harm just to name a few. He approaches them directly but also with brutal honesty.  It’s an eye opener to any reader that this is still happening all around and it needs to stop. Now. 

The suspense and tension that Clark creates is gripping. He takes the reader on a joyride of emotions from the grief of losing a family member to the desire and lust of finding love in the most unlikely place. There are so many twists and turns you don’t see coming that shock and absorb the reader into the streets of Philadelphia where the police are as corrupt as they come. No one is safe, not even in the hands of the law. It sends a bold message of who you can and can’t trust.

He held the gun out to me again. I let out a deep breath and took it from him. Every muscle in my body tensed as I felt the gun’s cold metal against my fingers. Then my hands started shaking. 


I give Hands Up By Stephen Clark a Four out of Five paw rating.

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Fast paced and gripping to the end. Clark has a gifted talent within the crime/thriller genre. He is not afraid to write about important issues surrounding the world like racism and self-harm. His writing is passionate and speaks the brutal truth that needs to be heard, shouted from the rooftops. Well done, Sir. Well done indeed.

Check out the links below for more information on the author and to buy a copy of this fantastic book. Enjoy! 



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About Bunny's Pause

Hello, I'm a Author/Poet/Reviewer/Bookworm/Gamer/Music Lover/Wife and Mother! I review and recommend books as I LOVE to read! I am always on the lookout for new and upcoming books to expand my ever-growing library. If you have something you wish me to read and review, please contact me. I would be delighted to hear from you. Hop hop wiggle wiggle
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