I was lucky enough to be approached with an ARC by author Brian Robert Smith for his debut novel Purified. It isn't the type of book I would normally read, being part horror, part sci-fi, but I have to say it was a thrilling read for me. Sometimes it's nice to step out of my normal genre comfort zones and be pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed a book.
Take one mad scientist, two accomplices and what do you have? Three people set on doing evil. The mad scientist, one Dr. Harlow has created a new drug called Purified. The drug has been created by unauthorised experiments on humans. Dr. Harlow and his goons are cheating death in order to put their drug into practice. The only way to put it into practise is to steal bodies. This is exactly what happened to Mason Bushing, terminal cancer patient. Dr. Harlow thinks he is giving his victims a new lease on life and as such they are his property to do with as he wishes. Dead men and women don't have rights do they? He can't understand why people you have saved from death would not be thankful to him. At first glance you might think they should be grateful, but it is the cost of these changes taking the drug Purified creates that explains why the testing needs to be stopped and the stunning conclusion shows what a monster Dr. Harlow is. Dr. Harlow wants to take the next step in evolution. While in my opinion, that maybe twelve steps down the path of human evolution. It's clearly evident he needs to be stopped somehow.
Mason makes some strange choices initially, however it does make sense by the end. If you had just been resurrected by a magical drug, would you return to your old haunts? Your old haunts where everyone has buried you six feet under and have mourned your passing already? It's a quandary as to what you would do. For Mason, he wants his old life back. He wants to return to his house, his wife and continue with his mundane existence. But things are never simple when you've died and come back. Suspicion is immediately placed upon you and when you suddenly realise that you can't have the life you once lived back, you have to find out how you can survive in this new, altered body.
What Mason doesn't account for is that he isn't the same man from before his death. Dr. Harlow has altered him and it's up to Mason to figure out a way to exist with the changes he has undergone. If he can. The changes are both terrifying and exhilarating.
Mason's returned from the dead and it's only logical that the police get involved. We find Detective Warren assigned to the case. He has recently lost his own wife, Linda, to cancer. At first Warren thinks that insurance fraud has been committed. Then, people start dying around Mason and Warren's unsure if Mason's a fraudster or a murderer or both. Dr. Harlow and his goons don't want it discovered how Mason cheated death and they take measures to lock down the situation. This all leads to Mason having to make a decision he didn't intend to after his escape and he needs Warren to help him.
This book was a very solid debut novel and as such I gave it four stars. I will be interested to see what Brian Robert Smith has install for us with his next book.