Prime Suspects: A Clone Detective Mystery by Jim Bernheimer

BernheimerPrimeSuspectsWhy I Read It: I have a thing for clones, detectives, and the gritty noir.

Where I Got It: A review copy from the author (thanks!).

Who Do I Recommend This To: Blade Runner fans.

Narrator: Jeffrey Kafer

Publisher: Self-published (2012)

Length: 4 hours 54 minutes

Series: I really, really hope there will be more books in this clone-filled world that the author created.

Author’s Page

David Bagini is a cop, a smart ass, and also a clone in a city filled with clones. Once awakened, and once he gets over his surprised combative response, he learns that he is the 42nd clone of the original bad-ass super detective, David Bagini, Prime. 42 has been called upon to solve the murder of the Prime Bagini because the evidence points to one of his ‘brothers’ as the culprit. With cool tech and a few frenemies, David Bagini 42 will still have a difficult, twisted time solving this case.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. In a world where clones are dispensable and are little more than slave labor, David 42 must muddle his way through with less than cutting edge tech. He’s a copy of a younger, still idealistic David Prime, and hence doesn’t have some of the moral flexibility as some of his other ‘brothers’, such as the partyer, the drug addict, or even the religious commune dweller. For every clone working, the Prime gets a piece of their paycheck, allowing him or her to live in luxury. The clones live and mostly work in this section of the city, in low-rent crappy housing, and eating at cheap, vomit-inducing diners. The Primes live and play in Prime City, serviced by mask-wearing clones (makes it easier to ID them as ‘servants’). Most clones have to take on second jobs to have the money to upgrade their living arrangements, such as working as a mall cop. Yes, the quality of life for clones is not all that for the vast majority of them.

A great mix of humor, nitty-gritty, and tough cop makes this an exciting mystery adventure. David Bagini was once one of the best detectives in the galaxy. Not only does 42 have to go up against swamp thugs, a therapist, bureaucracy, and a steep learning curve, he also has to be far more clever than all the other Bagini clones; they all know the tricks of the trade – how to catch a murderer, but also how to avoid being caught.

Since clones are dispensable, they tend to have lots of casual sex. With that statement, you might think there was plenty of that in the book. Nope. Well, not in detail. The orgies are referenced just often enough for the reader to understand that is not what David 42 is looking for. Sadly, he is stuck in a society where casual sex is the norm and long-term, in-depth relationships are deviations. Not like the guy needs that added frustration to his already full agenda of catch the murderer(s) of David Prime and quickly before Those On High decide to scrub the entire Bagini line. Every. Last. Bagini. Clone. Yeah, gone for ever.

While the pacing of this adventure was pretty quick, David 42 was a multi-tasker, such as interviewing a potential suspect while taking the time to learn the latest police-issue firearm at the range. I really liked that 42 didn’t simply wake up and know everything; he had to learn, and learn quickly, as he went. The guns, the hoppers (flying vehicles), the scroll (kind of like a PDA but much, much cooler), and even all the things clones do to individualize themselves. There’s tatts, piercings, constantly changing hair colors, etc. David 42 had a whole culture to learn.

Of course, 42 is a nod to Douglas Adams and there are some jokes through the book that fans of Adams will get. Towel!

All that goodness in less that 5 hours of reading time. My one minor criticism, and it is small, is that I would have liked to see a few more female cops. The novel has female lovers, waitresses, therapists, and finally, 1 female cop. Most of the ladies had well rounded characters and individual traits and the main character did not treat them as sex objects. Yet, it is far future SF and I do like to think that certain jobs will balance out in the future – like lady cops and house husbands. Still, minor negative comment on an otherwise very worthy novel.

The Narration: Jeffrey Kafer was a treat to listen to, pulling off the sarcasm, the asshole remarks, the tough cop that is secretly lost and trying to bluff his way through this freaking mess. Yeah, Kafer delivered.

What I Liked: The cover; clones!; disadvantaged cop in a tough situation; lots of cool tech; nitty-gritty feel to the story;the 42 reference (answers to everything); the ending; the narration was great!

What I Disliked: The story could have used a few more women in traditional male roles.

2014SFExperienceI’m taking part in The Sci-Fi Experince 2014 hosted by Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings. Swing by his place to see other SF reviews and posts. Anyone can join!

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10 thoughts on “Prime Suspects: A Clone Detective Mystery by Jim Bernheimer”

  1. That sounds fun. I like the idea of the clone being the main character and not just a story where there are clones, if that makes sense. Fun too that there are Douglas Adams in-jokes. I’m only vaguely familiar with his work and so I’m sure I wouldn’t get much of them, but I like it when authors give nods to other works they love.

    1. It was great to have the clone be the ‘real’ person, the POV, instead of the original. The clone doesn’t think of himself as disposable, even if the society does. Great read!

    1. Haha! Yes, it did bring back all sorts of jokes from highschool for me – when me and my friends read the Douglas Adams books and couldn’t help answering ’42’ to all the social science class questions.

    1. Yes. I believe this was my first Bernheimer novel and I keep hoping he will come back to this world he created.

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