Cover Art for Throwaways by Elliott Light

Lots of words elicit a response.

Love is one.

Puppy is another.

But one word has a special allure, a place in the heart all its own:


Yup, that’s the one. And my latest book. Throwaways, just went on sale for the holidays.

Great reviews and a lower price—now that’s a reason to get excited!

*Legal stuff: sale prices available from U.S. book sellers only. Prices subject to change without notice.


Buy on Amazon


One of the most common questions asked of writers is how did you write your book? I’m not sure how other writers address this question, but the honest answer is, well, I sit at my computer and hope the words appear on the screen. That’s a bit snarky, largely because the question is misdirected. I suspect that what is being asked is how did you construct the story that your book tells?

That is an interesting question.

Before I attempt an answer, let me offer a few definitions:

A pantser is someone who writes without an outline or even notes. Basically, the writing is a stream of consciousness exercise that starts with an idea. The author may have a vague ending in mind or be surprised by what he or she produces.

A plotter is someone who produces detailed notes of the story before the writing even begins. Some outlines are very granular while others break down the story into chapters and the chapters into scenes. My favorite books on the subject are Structuring Your Novel and  Outlining Your Novel both by K.M. Weiland, who also writes an amazing blog that can be visited by clicking her name.

An outline not only serves as roadmap for writing but can function as a “proof of concept” before time is invested in writing a book. The downside of the detailed outline is that a lot time can be invested in the outline itself. I have dozens of outlines that have collapsed like a house of cards in a windstorm.

Writing is hard enough without having to deal with a hundred-page outline that goes nowhere.

Enter the Snowflake Method.

When I hear the word snowflake, the first image that comes to mind is something akin to the photograph I took in September in Colorado when 18 inches of snow fell over Labor Day. Lots of snowflakes. Very pretty to watch, but shoveling? Not so much.

The term snowflake in the context of this post is neither the white, cold kind nor the socially stunted human kind but rather a shorthand reference to a method created by Randy Ingermanson that is described in detail in How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method. (Again, click the book title for more information).

The end product of the Snowflake Method is what might be thought of as a type of outline (perhaps better described as blueprint) that uses an iterative technique to produce it.

ASIDE: The name comes from a process of drawing a snowflake using triangles. You can watch an animation of this process created by António Miguel de Campos.

The value of plotting is that that the writer is compelled to think about his or her story. The  problem with thinking about the story is that the writer can slip into left-brain thinking where The value of plotting is that that the writer is compelled to think about his or her story. The  problem with thinking about the story is that the writer can slip into left-brain thinking where critical choices are made. (This is the area of the brain where your mother’s voice and the voice of your piano teacher reside.)

Creativity, on the other hand, is largely a right-brain function. The Snowflake Method tries to minimize left-brain thinking by breaking down the outlining process into ten steps that theoretically should be performed in the right hemisphere.

The first three are:

Step 1) Take an hour and write a one-sentence summary of your novel. Something like this: “A rogue physicist travels back in time to kill the apostle Paul.”

Step 2) Take another hour and expand that sentence to a full paragraph describing the story setup, major disasters, and ending of the novel.

Step 3) The above gives you a high-level view of your novel. Now you need something similar for the storylines of each of your characters. Characters are the most important part of any novel, and the time you invest in designing them up front will pay off ten-fold when you start writing.

For each of your major characters, take an hour and write a one-page summary sheet that tells:

•           The character’s name

•           A one-sentence summary of the character’s storyline

•           The character’s motivation (what does he/she want abstractly?)

•           The character’s goal (what does he/she want concretely?)

•           The character’s conflict (what prevents him/her from reaching this goal?)

•           The character’s epiphany (what will he/she learn, how will he/she change?

•           A one-paragraph summary of the character’s storyline

The remaining steps involving the expansion of sentences into paragraphs, paragraphs into pages and so on to produce the blueprint of the story.

In writing my latest book, Throwaways, I started with an outline only to find that my story lacked focus. Something was missing. That’s when I learned about the Snowflake Method. I was skeptical at first but found the stepped approach appealing.

The first two steps went well. I found that identifying a character’s motivation, goal and conflict produced some interesting insights. I could feel the snowflake developing just like Mr. Ingermanson described.

But then I took a detour. I was working a character’s storyline when my head filled with questions I might ask him. To my surprise I heard him answer. The answers led to more questions and the story from his perspective emerged. I interviewed other characters. Curiously, and happily, not all of the characters reported events the same way.

Some approaches to character design use a questionnaire to gather profile information—favorite color, ice cream preference, favorite book. But the questions produce a static profile. The interview produces a dynamic interaction between the writer and the character. If the writer can stay right-brain focused, the interview may lead anywhere, even providing new insights into where the story is going.

For example:

MALE CHARACTER : Of course I didn’t kill her. I loved her.

WRITER:  You loved her? Had you even met before you shot her?

MALE CHARACTER: I watched her, how she talked to people, how she squeezed their hands…I didn’t shoot her!

WRITER: Were you stalking her?

MALE CHARACTER: You have a sick mind. She was my daughter!

That was unexpected. What does the WRITER do now?

The cool thing is that if WRITER is smart, he/she continues to interview the other characters. For example:

FEMALE CHARACTER: He told you that she was his daughter, right?

WRITER:  That’s what he said.

FEMALE CHARACTER: (Sigh). I let him believe that, but just between you and me, it isn’t actually true. You know, sometimes things happen and well, the truth is…complicated. Confession may be good for the soul, but can get you killed, if you know what I mean.

WRITER: Do you think he killed her?

FEMALE CHARACTER: Are you stupid or just uninformed? The girl led a double life. She’s Mother Teresa coexisting with the Son of Sam. Nah. He didn’t kill her. You might want to check out the commune where she used to live and learn a bit more about the Disciples of Truth.

This dynamic exchange informs the writer that his victim led a double life, that her parentage is uncertain, that the reason for her death is shrouded in uncertainty. Even in this limited example, the writer is offered multiple opportunities to create conflict. Conflict produces questions. Questions properly posed (and mostly answered) create reader interest.

For me, the character interview is the key to finding the story in the one-sentence summary that drives the Snowflake Method. Additionally, a character’s voice may emerge—cadence, word choices, and other personality ques—that make the actors in the story unique and interesting.

Once the interviews were done, I returned to the ten steps and put together a blueprint of my book organized into chapters and major scenes. Writing was still challenging but without the fear that the effort would fail.

The reviews of Throwaways on Amazon have been extremely positive. Perhaps the most satisfying comments refer to the characters:

The characters have personality so much so that the reader gets to know them and root for them. Texas Read, October 26,2020.

Great characters and a great setting for a mystery adventure. Red Wolf, October 24, 2020

A lot of authors set out to create likable, believable characters, but few succeed to the extent that Elliott Light has with Jake Savage. William Hansmann, October 23, 2020

I have written a one sentence summary of a second Jake Savage book. The players are in the wings ready to tell me their stories. I, for one, can’t wait to speak with them.

Cover Art for Throwaways by Elliott Light

Learn more about Throwaways by clicking here.

Great Reviews for Throwaways keep rolling in!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Great mystery read October 18, 2020
Author did a good job in writing an imaginative, emotional and mysterious story line. A little dark and heavy so beware if you’re not used to reading these types of books. But very relevant to the world around us right now. Recommend if you want a deep and interesting page turner.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Good Read October 17, 2020
I enjoyed this book. This was an easy read with good flow. For me the 1st chapter was a bit of overload on information, but once past that, it was a good read. I enjoyed getting to know the characters and seeing how the story turned out.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

An entertaining dive into a seedy world October 16, 2020
His discovery of a dead girl floating off the Florida coast throws diver and marine researcher Jake Savage into the shifting current of a mystery that slides through the seedy side of coastal life in Key West, Florida and into the even seedier side of a greater life, the world of child sex trafficking, including a headline villain who recalls Jeffrey Epstein.

Such is the convoluted world of “Throwaways,” a mystery by Elliott Light.

Faced with a disinserted police detective (who eventually comes around) and the moral imperative to right the wrong, Jake plunges into the dangerous search for the name of the dead girl and her killer.

Jake is the amateur investigator, the carrier of the hopes of the “throwaways” of the story: himself, as he overcame at age four the murder of his mother; the street girls who are turned into drug addicted prostitutes and playthings for rich men; any number of the characters who get attached to Jake’s quest, and even Detective Murphy, lost in a stagnant career and seriously ill.

The reader wants Jake and his gang to succeed; ultimately the reader knows they will.

“Throwaways” presents the veneer of a mystery, an entertaining exploration of a noble and righteous quest, a story at whose heart is a big idea that feeds a certain desire – who doesn’t want to be the average guy who brings down an international sex trafficker?

That idea will allow the reader to forgive instances in the book that could have used more attention. At times there is the aura of danger and terror, but nothing the reader feels; the seedy side of beach life is such because the author tells the reader it is; and the world of billionaire sex traffickers is bad because, well, it is unambiguously supposed to be.

That said, “Throwaways” provides a good read. While it doesn’t grab the reader by the throat, it gives us average guys hope that some of the world’s evil can be exposed.

A note: I am the author of mysteries and Anita-Dugan Moore, who created the stunning cover for “Throwaways” and was an editorial advisor, also created the covers for my books.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Not the usual crime story October 16, 2020
It is a story for today. a well-written page-turner and a highly imaginative story – I understand it’s the author’s first story of its type. Quite a dark subject but the way the author handles the subject matter, it is well managed.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This book is a very intriguing and well written. October 13, 2020
As soon as I got into the first few chapters, the book has a way of pulling you in with all the descriptive details the writer paints as you get further into this dark mystery. It’s a great read and I highly recommend to anyone that loves a good mystery book.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Emotional, well-written October 13, 2020
Elliott wrote this novel as if he had been through this story in person. The scenes were so real and detailed and I could imagine just like I were a spectator in the scenes. The story unfolded as a body of a young girl was seen in Key West. People who like suspense novel will really enjoy it. Enjoyed it!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Great book! October 13, 2020
I was hooked from the very beginning of this contemporary mystery novel. Putting it down in for any length of time was not an option. Jake Savage, a 27-year-old diver working for an environmental firm off the coast of Key West, is photographing predator fish when he discovers a dead young woman floating above him. Where did she come from? Was she murdered, and if so, why? On Jake’s journey to find her killer, we meet Ethel, his step-mother from his complicated past, and Tess, the caregiver, who will have a more important role to play later on. Jake’s clues ultimately come together and solidify into a believable conclusion, rather like a spider’s intricate web that stuns us with its construction. I wholeheartedly recommend this book, and hope for more from Elliott Light.

Reviews for Throwaways!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Detailed, Emotional Story October 26, 2020
Child trafficking. This is a page-turner with scenes so real you become part of the story. The characters have personality so much so that the reader gets to know them and root for them. This dark, intense story is a page-turner you won’t be able to put down.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Very well written! October 26, 2020
A very well written, almost too much but just descriptive enough to captivate the reader while taking them on a emotional journey into today’s current and relevant topics centered around trafficking, abuse, money and power. It’s dark and disturbing but so is the reality of what happens in our underground, and sad, disposable world.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Great Stuff! October 24, 2020
Great characters and a great setting for a mystery adventure. Despite the sun and surf, it’s written with a descriptive abruptness that hints at noir. The story is well-structured, with great dialog. The plot gets more complex as it moves along and the consequences for the hero and heroine more dire. I loved it, and I’m looking for the next Elliot Light novel right away!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Jake is the real thing October 23, 2020
A lot of authors set out to create likable,believable characters, but few succeed to the extent that Elliot Light has with Jake Savage. Throwaways was a great read and I’m eager to read of the Jake’s future exploits.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Easy to read: tense and emotional October 23, 2020
A solid new mystery series from this author. This brings to life the new age of internet and involved things like the me too movement.

Very powerful stuff….not for the faint of heart…chilling.

Highly recommend I will be looking for book 2.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Dark & Meaningful October 22, 2020
This is a fairly dark story that shines a light on the horrors of human trafficking. As someone who has spent a lot of time in South Florida the setting of this book hits “close to home” & made the reading experience that much more impactful. I’m generally not interested in a topic such as human trafficking but the book made contending these ideas engaging. If you’re interested in dark stories based on reality then I’d recommend this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This Book is interesting. October 21, 2020
This book gives alot of “throwaways” in the story. It’s definitely imaginative and easy to follow when it comes to the characters and the story line. This is a book to read if you like interesting storylines that’s engaging, but dark and intense as well.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Life Reality October 20, 2020
Throwaways by Elliott D. Light is based on today’s reality. The rich are in a class of their own and many of them forget about the little people once they get there. Though-provoking, intense, disturbing, and nerve recking.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Good Read October 19, 2020
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The hook of the main character Jake spotting a body on his dive set in motion a plot that was well-paced and laced with mystery.

Characters had personality and there were emotional connections. You get to know and root for them.

I recommend this book to anyone who loves a good mystery.

Editorial Reviews for Throwaways!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

“Throwaways is reminiscent of many of the #MeToo headlines seen in the media today.”

“Throwaways is a timely statement about the ‘have’s’ and the ‘have not’s’ of today’s society. It frankly illuminates the corruption and greed of the uber wealthy as they consume what they desire from the weak and the less fortunate, and then simply toss them aside like yesterday’s garbage. This story could have been ripped from many of today’s headlines.” 

  – Charles Rieger
Ph.D., Artificial Intelligence

Reviews for The Gene Police!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A brilliantly engineered plot June 17, 2018
A brilliantly engineered plot, intertwined with some of the dark undercurrents of the early and mid-20th century eugenics subculture. Light’s plot development and pacing are superb, as are the character development and his treatment of complex human emotions, not to mention his effortless incorporation of technology into the problem solving surrounding this riveting who-done-it mystery. His reflective descriptions of the environs, lifestyles, weather, and even the felines are equally captivating, and the plot resolution is both tidy and very clever, concluding with a heartwarming epilogue to boot. This is Light’s third adventure in his Smalltown Mystery series, all three of which I can heartily recommend.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A great read June 6, 2018
I just got my third Shep Harrington book in the mail and enjoyed it thoroughly. Intelligently written with fun dialogue, both the mystery and the further development of the Poor Farm concept and characters really interested me. I’m looking forward to future Shep adventures!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A compelling mystery that I recommend. February 13, 2019
The Gene Police by Elliott Light is a well-crafted story with a complex plot that brings to light a harsh reality many American’s probably won’t relish taking a closer look at. I’m not going to tell you what that reality is… you will have to read the book for yourself to understand what I am talking about, but I will say that I couldn’t help but nod my head in agreement with Mr. Light this morning when I realized he had a very valid point involving “eugenics”. If you aren’t familiar with that term right now, you will be by the end of this book. His dedication at the beginning of the story certainly hints at what is to come.

“To all those persecuted, harassed, bullied, kicked around, and otherwise treated unfairly because of the color of their skin, the shape of their face, or the slant of their eyes.”

As you read, or listen to the book…whichever method you choose. Try to remember that much of what Mr. Light discusses actually happened here in the United States. It is a part of our American History, a part of what contributed to the Holocaust, a contributing factor to our chaotic political environment and in that sense it is a part of our present as well.

The main character, Shep Harrington is a good man with a troubled past who just seems to continually be drawn into situations he really should steer clear of. This he and his law partner Robbie are asked by a friend to look into who took some old photographs. They agree and a twisted and gnarled plot begins to open up, leading the reader into a dark and gruesome past; a past that has been buried for 50 years and one that many want to remain buried.

Shep, is a complicated man. He’s been on both sides of the law. He also recently inherited a ton of money from his estranged father and could live very well off of it, yet instead he chooses to live in a run-down house rather than the mansion on his property where his elderly “residents” live. He could do anything, live anywhere…instead he has his sights set on re-opening a Poor Farm to help others. His willingness to help others along with his simple lifestyle are probably the only thing that saves him when the Tax Man comes calling with a bill of $750,000 in unpaid taxes….courtesy of his now deceased famous father.

What’s not to like about a character like that? Shep sees himself as a dark and troubled man and yes he has a complicated past. However he doesn’t turn anyone away who is in need of assistance…that makes him complex true, but I don’t quite feel his darkness perhaps that’s more apparent in the previous books in this series. Instead I get more of a feel for his generosity and good heart.

Oh, and Shep has cats…lots of cats; just a few more creatures in need of help that he doesn’t turn away. These critters end up being a fun addition to the book too. I don’t say that just because I love cats (don’t judge me) but because they become tertiary characters due to how Mr. Light treats them. He does the same with the house Shep initially lives in at the beginning of the book, that too becomes a character in and of itself and becomes an integral to the plot at the end of the story.

As to the pace of this story, I really liked that. It rolls along at a steady pace, keeping the reader wanting to see what happens next and never losing the reader’s attention during the parts with less action. Not once did I find my mind wandering or wonder when the pace would pick up.

The resolution to the story was also very clever, I loved. No, I’m not going to elude to what it was…but it was clever.

If I had to pick something to criticize it would be this, character names. Yeah, I know I’m a picky picky bugger but it is something that came to my attention.

In this story we have two pretty important characters named Robbie and Reggie. Now, this may seem silly to bring up since one is a female lawyer and a potential love interest and the other is a male State Trooper but the names being so similar kept giving me slight pause. That’s a minor thing to point out and I’m not sure I even truly realized it was an issue until I sat down to write this review and found that I kept trying to call Robbie….Reggie in my mind when I would go back over the story in my head.

Over all though, I really loved this story and give it 4.5 out of 5 Stars.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

 A very good read June 14, 2018
I enjoyed reading Gene Police. At no time did I find myself thinking ‘this is boring!’ or ‘this is dragging on!’ The story didn’t drag its feet at the start like some books do, it grabbed my interest quickly. It is a compelling read. I liked the development of the main character Shep and his close friend Robbie. There are many characters and some are intricate, therefore this isn’t a quick read. Rather a book that needs, and deserves full concentration. The story is complex and isn’t the type of novel that you can skim through, you really need to read and understand what is happening to grasp the story. The history surrounding Eugenics and white supremacy was fascinating and added complexity and significance to the story. The editing is satisfactory, as well is the grammar. My only suggestion would be that as there are many characters in the book, occasionally I got a little lost with the similar character names, and with what position they played in the story at that time.

Overall I rate this book 4/5.

My thanks to the author and Sage from the Reading Room for a copy of Gene Police in return for my review.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Intriguing, well written and filled with today’s burning issues May 29, 2018
“Elliott Light has written a fascinating murder-mystery. I found myself getting annoyed with my schedule when I had to break away from reading it. Shep Harrington, the protagonist is sufficiently quirky, intelligent, ethical, and marked by an old-fashion humanity that’s rarely found these days. But equally important were the historical references, including eugenics experiments that occurred in the United States and around the world that many people either didn’t know about or have chosen to forget. As an African-American, I was reminded of the various experiments on black people in the name of so-called medical research and became enraged anew. Fortunately, I was not alone. All of the characters in Light’s novel were equally repulsed. (No 35 percenters there.) Light provided a glimpse of that era and effectively used it to explore some of the current issues of white supremacy, racism, and economic inequality, which made the novel even more interesting for me. Without giving it away, I thought the most powerful and thought-provoking aspect of Light’s intriguing and entertaining novel may have been its ending. It hinted, in my view, of Richard Wright’s Native Son.”

“An intriguing, fascinating, and entertaining murder-mystery that explores some of today’s most burning issues: white supremacy, eugenics, racism, and economic inequality.”

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A terrific read that also makes you think May 26, 2018
It’s a real page-turner, with Shep Harrington back in top form unraveling a mystery that only gets more compelling as you read on. And it comes with a huge bonus: the book shines a light into a part of American history, the eugenics movement, that cries out to be more widely known. Elliott Light holds up a social issue to the light, while creating engaging characters and a can’t-put-it-down story. I enjoyed the book enormously, and it’s stayed with me more than other books because of this extra dimension. Highly recommended.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I enjoyed the believable June 10, 2018
This was the first novel I read by Elliott Light, but it was not the last. I was intrigued by the premise, the setting and the characters, and immediately ordered his first and second novels. I enjoyed the believable, complex, sometimes bizarre characters with realistic and entertaining dialogue. I find dialogue which reveals the characters involves me as a reader more than descriptive prose, though physical descriptions are also important and very present. It is a compelling drama about the not-too-distant past. As a novelist myself, I like to delve into the “what if” side of storytelling with roots in real history, particularly the evolution of racial attitudes in the U.S. without the intrusion of “soap box” rhetoric.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Fun new writer August 16, 2018
Very interesting book with an unusual theme. Appealing main character and small town setting. Let’s see more from this author!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I thoroughly enjoyed this read and do recommend any of you out … May 27, 2018
I became interested in reviewing this book due to some prior knowledge of the eugenics movement. The author Elliot D. Light does an astounding job of bringing the reality of this destructive, shabby, non-science to the minds of the reader. Set in the style of a mystery read, the beginning takes off with more questions to the reader than ever. I felt compelled to continuing diving into this read.

Not only that but Light helps the reader to understand the racial dynamics of the past. In light of understanding the racial dynamics in the United States in the 1950’s, this book also helps spread justice to racial destruction in today’s world too. I thoroughly enjoyed this read and do recommend any of you out there that wants to turn fast pages and have inquiring minds to pick this one up.

I really liked the fact that everything started out as a mystery that I just had to solve! I really look forward to other works written by Light.

I rate this 5 Stars out of 5!

Editorial Reviews for The Gene Police!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

“The Gene Police by Elliott Light is an original and simply riveting mystery novel by a master of the genre–one that is especially recommended for community library Mystery/Suspense collections.”

–Midwest Book Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

“A strong mystery supported by its powerful treatment of racial injustice.”


Rating: 5 out of 5.

“Light’s thought-provoking third mystery features attorney Shep Harrington . . . who learns that Sweetwater Hospital was run at the time by a prominent eugenicist, who shared Nazi beliefs about race. Light’s timely look at an almost forgotten dark chapter of recent American history, when doctors experimented on those considered racially inferior, more than compensates for the routine mystery.”

–Publishers Weekly

Rating: 5 out of 5.

“The Gene Police is the third novel in the Shep Harrington SmallTown mystery series and my introduction to both Shep and Elliott Light.  Being shrouded in mystery meant that I wanted to continuously read (well intothe night too.) Shep is an interesting character and brilliantly complicated.The book contains intense plot elements; some are really quite harrowing. Iwasn’t crying, there was something in my eye.The twists and turns of the plot had me guessing up to the last page andI found the writing style easy to like. If you love mystery, then really do give this book series a go.”

–NovelKicks –

Reviews for Chain Thinking!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Chimps are smarter than you think! July 10, 2014
I loved this story. I learned so much about chimpanzees, and the laws that at this point, sadly do not protect them, all while reading a romping page turning murder mystery. Set in the DC area, with careful attention to area details it was a delight to read. Bravo Elliott Light!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

No monkey business States on June 30, 2018
A very interesting book advocating for animal rights. Interesting but also fun to read!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Entertaining and Enlightening October 4, 2013
His writing is engaging, and the subject matter, use of animals in medical research labs, is enlightening and thought provoking.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A Hero for Our Times September 18, 2003
One reason that society’s ethics advance so slowly is that the reasons for advance are hidden behind the facts and figures of dry scientific papers and textbooks that remain unread by anyone but scientists and a few geeks like me. The facts and figures generated by the African slave trade were ample cause to end such an abomination, but it was not until Uncle Tom’s Cabin came along that people actually sat up and took notice.

Elliott Light’s new mystery novel, Chain Thinking, has the potential to awaken the public to the plight of chimpanzees being used in biomedical research in a way that scholarly publications simply have not done. In this story, the newest addition to his Shep Harrington Smalltown Mystery series, Light introduces his readers to a world of corporate greed that has little concern for the suffering it leaves in its wake.

Like all good mysteries, Chain Thinking compels the reader to turn yet another page and follow the story through its unexpected twists and turns. Whether you are a mystery aficionado, a Shep Harrington fan, or someone interested in the animal research industry’s darker secrets and devious behavior, you will surely find Chain Thinking an eye-opening and surprising story. Shep Harrington is a hero for our times.

For the animal rights crowd, Chain Thinking will make a great gift for friends and family members who refuse to read a graphic expose. Before they know it, they will be cheering for the animals. Go Shep!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Read Them All! March 29, 2019
Elliott Light makes you laugh, makes you cry, makes you angry, makes you think. What more can you ask of a writer? Oh, how about, great research into subjects many know little or nothing about. Now add a murder to be solved , along with a cast of characters who draw you in, makes for a great story wherein you learn something. I’ve read his books and I’m definitely a fan of Elliott Leight who is looking forward to what’s next.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Perfect Tapestry September 19, 2003
Elliott Light’s CHAIN THINKING was the perfect tapestry of mystery, drama, animal rights, and the law. The story begins with a ‘big bang’ and doesn’t stop running from there. I was drawn to his protagonist Shep Harrington, the reluctant hero/detective/lawyer, through whose eyes and voice we are reminded of the injustices our society imposes upon chimpanzees and other animals for our own selfish purposes. Mr. Light is able to convey a strong message without being preachy. I also enjoyed Shep’s dry sense of humor. I promise you’ll pick up the book and finish it in one read.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Thought Provoking January 2, 2004
Elliott Light’s second book in the SmallTown Mystery Series, CHAIN THINKING, is a quick and easy read that leaves you with plenty to chew on long after you put the book down.

Editorial Reviews for Chain Thinking!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

“When a writer attempts to introduce a social issue into his fiction, he can almost be sure that he will be accused of some kind of proselytizing.  In Chain Thinking the issue is animal rights and the fiction is the story of Kikora, a chimpanzee, and Shep Harrington, a lawyer and detective manqué, and his battle not only to solve a murder, but to save the chimp from experimentation.  Elliott Light has managed to weave these two parts together, and do it seamlessly.”


Rating: 5 out of 5.

“Those who think that stories about legal rights for nonhuman animals have to be boring, tedious, complicated, or abstract are in for a treat. In Chain Thinking, the plain truths about our inhumanity to other beings with whom we share our world are told in a way both exciting and funny.  What animal rights lawyer wouldn’t want to be like Shep Harrington (except for the part about going to jail)? And I guessed wrong about whodunnit!”


Rating: 5 out of 5.

Small-town lawyer Shep Harrington should have known nothing good could come of a sudden visit from a stranger. When former soap-opera star Sydney Vail lands on his doorstep all keyed up, Shep figures he should help the damsel in distress, going so far as to agree to baby-sit her companion, a very intelligent chimp named Kikora. Problem is, Sydney doesn’t return, and soon Shep learns that she stole Kikora from a drug-testing laboratory and is being sought in connection with the murder of the lab’s head scientist. With the help of close friends, a very persistent investigative reporter, and one crotchety old attorney, Shep decides to help defend Sydney, all the while becoming enlightened about the plight of laboratory animals. This second installment in Light’s Shep Harrington series presents a respectable balance between the mystery and the cause, never turning preachy yet always making clear Light’s stance on the issue. Entertaining and enlightening.

Mary Frances WilkensCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Reviews for Lonesome Song!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

As if you were sitting in a rocker on a porch with a good friend swapping stories February 16, 2017
Elliott LIght writes in a conversational style that enables the story to flow naturally, as if you were sitting in a rocker on a porch with a good friend swapping stories. His characters develop as much through dialogue as narrative description to create a sense of reality about them. The dialogue is easy and realistic. While Shep Harrington is an intriguing character in his own right, Light also writes women well. One of my favorite passages in Lonesome Song is Cali’s response to Shep’s asking her to kiss his pain away (p. 143): “I’m tired and you smell like barf and disinfectant. Not to mention I don’t know you as well as I know my mailman, and I’m not putting out for him either.” I laughed out loud at that one. It’s the kind of thing every woman wishes she could say in a moment and only a few have the presence of mind to do so. Good work! I look forward to the next installment in the Shep Harrington series.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Lonesome Song November 18, 2018
Really enjoyed reading this book.liked the characters.A very good mystery well written and a good ending. I would recommend this book very highly if you like a good mystery

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Lonesome Song September 24, 2018
Really enjoyed this book. Interesting people, good mystery that kept me guessing. Our hero Shep was a good guy with a lot to deal with.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A GREAT STORY!!! June 24, 2004
Elliott Light is a great storyteller. He keeps your nose in this book from beginning to end and leaves you with a heartfelt concern for the main character, Shep and the members of the poor farm. Through this book, I feel as though Shep and I are now friends. I have genuine feelings for this fella. I want to know how he’s feeling and if he’s eating well! This Shep is one heck of a character and I hope he continues to do great things in small ways. He may be a small town guy, but he has a city boy’s wit and intuition. Shep also has a bit of a heart, always trouble there. Read this book!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

 Fine regional amateur sleuth
January 6, 2003The most famous person from the Lyle, Virginia area was Reilly Heartwood who sang under the moniker of C.C. Hollinger, a legendary country music great. Recently Reilly committed suicide though disbarred attorney Shep Harrington finds discrepancies on what he has learned about the death of his mentor. He cannot understand why there was no autopsy, a relatively tiny medical report, and no police investigation. He also struggles with the question “why now” when Reilly finally promised to reveal a secret to him about Shep’s father.

Though burned by the justice system when people perjured and accused him of criminal activity that led to three years of prison before he was exonerated, Shep seeks the truth about Reilly for his own peace of mind and that of the sister of the music superstar. Shockingly, Shep learns he is the prime heir to the multi-million dollar estate. Even stranger is how several locals loathe Reilly to the point of denying him a Christian burial. As Shep digs deeper he perilously places himself in the middle of a town divided and on the verge of exploding.

Fans of regional amateur sleuths will take pleasure from Elliot Light’s affable who-done-it. The story line combines sub-genre elements with recent historical tidbits such as Poor Farms that make for a powerful background, which in turn enhances the key cast members, especially the hero. The investigation is fun to follow because the evidence Shep finds conflicts between cover-up and suicide making a culprit difficult to identify if one even exists. LONESOME SONG is a delightful tale that will lead the audience to pursue Shep’s next mystery, CHAIN THINKING.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Great read September 13, 2020
Really great, fun characters and a wonderful mystery… I read it in one weekend, I was so hooked and couldn’t put it down.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Move over Spenser, Shep Harrington’s in town! April 6, 2003
Elliott Light has developed a terrific new detective and a great cast of characters in Lonesome Song. A quick, yet satisfying, read, Lonesome Song is the wonderful introduction to Shep Harrington, a disbarred lawyer who returns to his hometown for the funeral of his dear friend. Along the way, we meet the quirky inhabitants of the poor farm, a string of townsfolk who can’t forget the past, and of course, the beautiful reporter who forms a symbiotic relationship with Shep. In just over 200 pages, Mr. Light brings these characters to life, masterfully interweaving the elements of character, plot and lots of local color. I think Elliott Light and Shep Harrington are here to stay.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Well written, readable mystery. April 2, 2003
Excellent mystery, well worth reading. He treats his characters like real people, some likable, some not. He plays fair with the reader. I enjoyed it.