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.”

–Booklist


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 – bit.ly/Novelkickreview

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.”

–MARTHA GRIMES, BEST-SELLING WRITER OF MORE THAN 20 MYSTERIES,  NOTED ANIMAL RIGHTS ADVOCATE, AND WINNER OF THE NERO WOLFE AWARD (BEST MYSTERY) 


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!”

— STEVEN M. WISE, LECTURER, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL, AND AUTHOR OF THE BOOKS RATTLING THE CAGE: TOWARD LEGAL RIGHTS FOR ANIMALS AND DRAWING THE LINE: THE CASE FOR ANIMAL RIGHTS


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.

Editorial Reviews for Lonesome Song!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Unjustly-disbarred-lawyer-turned-amateur-sleuth Shep Harrington faces the demons of his past while investigating the mysterious death of a famous country singer in Elliot Light’s debut, the first volume in the planned Shep Harrington Smalltown Mystery series called Lonesome Song (the sequel, Chain Thinking, is due out this fall). It’s a solid mystery with a nostalgic heart; its standout feature, however, may be the blurb section in the back – “offers more food for thought and literacy than the average,” raves one reader.

MIDWEST BOOK Review


Rating: 5 out of 5.

“Elliott Light’s Lonesome Song: A Shep Harrington Smalltown Mystery is a darkly compelling, splendidly written tale about a country-western singer whose death is abruptly ruled a suicide without investigation. Shep Harrington, a perturbed 32-year-old disbarred lawyer, is determined to find out the truth of what happened. The more Harrington learns of the last minutes of the victim’s life, the more disturbing parallels appear between Harrington’s own past and the tragedy he seeks to solve. A fascinating, convoluted novel, Lonesome Song is very highly recommended reading for mystery buffs.”

MIDWEST BOOK Review


Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

“A darkly compelling, splendidly written tale … A fascinating, convoluted novel, Lonesome Song is very highly recommended reading for mystery buffs.” — Midwest Book Review


Rating: 5 out of 5.

“A rollicking and unpredictable read.” — Pindeldyboz.com


Rating: 5 out of 5.

“You will like this unlikely hero and this intriguing small town mystery.” — Bookviews