RACE: the Radical Association of Criminal Ethnicities. We first learn about this organization as Officer Jon Rupret is taken off of parking violation duties and transferred into the narcotics division. An unlikely gathering of criminals from different backgrounds, the group is said to be creating a brand new drug of abuse: a combination stimulant, analgesic, and hallucinogen all rolled up into one fast-acting tablet. As a soon-to-be pharmacist, I was immediately intrigued.
As a police officer, Rupret's attitude is a far cry from both the doughnut-eating, coffee guzzling stereotype and the straitlaced man-in-uniform trope. Instead, he is sarcastic, impulsive, ambitious, but overall well-meaning. These characteristics force me to vacillate between affection and irritation as a combination of circumstances and his own poor judgment take him from the pot to the frying pan. Thankfully, the author is aware of the man's strengths and shortcomings as we are, and Rupret does not metamorphose into a likelier hero. Instead, happenstance guides just about all of his successes in a way that makes it impossible for readers to figure out the larger conspiracy until Rupret himself discovers it.
The plot itself is rather well-conceived — involved enough to maintain interest, yet simple enough to be covered satisfactorily in a medium-length novel. On the whole, I find myself pleased with the storyline; what does bother me is the believability of the scientific content. The manner in which orally disintegrating and sublingual tablets is treated makes it sound like a novel concept, when these dosage forms have been around for decades. Additionally, the analyst uses full technical terms, when most would simply say "mass spec" or "HPLC" or some other abbreviated form. In trying to be scientifically correct (and generally succeeding), the author inadvertently oversteps the line demarcating the divide between useful information and overkill.
Perhaps my greatest bone of contention with this novel is the inconsistency in writing quality. Long passages will run smoothly, and then there will be paragraphs with inappropriate shifts in tense or incorrectly used words, such as "dangled" instead of "dangling" in describing the position of Jon's legs. There are long strings of dialogue in which quotation marks are missing, and in conjunction with other typographical errors, these details break up an otherwise pleasant reading experience. Sometimes, the entire meaning of the sentence changes; I was rereading "Where you following me?" and trying to decide if Rupret was asking "Where [are] you following me?" or "Were you following me?" (It was the latter).
On the whole, RACE is an engaging, entertaining read. The text could use a bit of cleaning, but the storyline is still worth a look.
(Review copy provided by the author)