Shadow Truth (a Novella) – Bill Larkin

(Reviewed by JD Jung)

“…the elimination of costly criminal trials, freeing the truly innocent, simplifying background checks, and making society as a whole more honest. Other than curing terminal diseases, can you think of anything more important?”

What personal liberties are we willing to sacrifice in exchange for a safe society? Will these sacrifices preserve our freedoms in the long run and in the end be worth it? I don’t think that the answer is as simple as you may think, and at the very least, is  personal for most of us. For example, I’m willing to allow the government to control the purchase and use of firearms, but I am not willing to let the government or any person or organization monitor my every move. Do I think that this control would be abused by the powerful? Absolutely. Am I reading too much into the crime novella, Shadow of Truth? Probably.

Now, back to the opening quote. What would be both the advantages and consequences of administering a fool-proof lie detector? Deputy Kevin “Schmitty” Schmidt has his own opinion and unfortunately, experience with this.

Schmitty has been working Harbor Patrol for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department for a huge chunk of his career. Fires and dead bodies are rare in Newport Harbor, so when there was a deliberate explosion and a corpse near Balboa Island, it wasn’t business as usual.

The owner of the cruiser that went up in flames was Barry Treymane, a neurobiologist at UC Irvine. He and his partner ran a small biotech firm and discovered a new way to tell if someone was lying.

While Schmitty was investigating at Treymane’s house on Harbor Island, he found a photo of a woman from his past. This isn’t his only problem. He has been  accused of stealing from a crime scene, and can’t seem to clear himself after completing– you guessed it—a lie detector test.

This story could have turned corny and trite very easily.  Thankfully, author Bill Larkin resisted, and took us along  an unforeseen path.

There’s so much going on in this little thriller: suspense, crime, politics, greed and ethics. That’s only one reason that I enjoyed Shadow of Truth. In just 81 pages, the characters are well developed and the writing is vibrant. I was sucked in until the very end.

Most of all, Larkin gives us some important issues to think about long after we finish reading this gem.

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