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Prime Suspects by Jim Berheimer
Homicide detective David Bagini awakens on a strange world only to discover he is, in fact, the forty-second clone of the Bagini line. Having no memories of why his Prime entered into a clone contract, he wants answers.
The first problem is his Prime has been murdered and Bagini Forty-Two is now in charge of the investigation.
The second problem is all the clues point at one of his fellow clones and they already know all his tricks.
How can he solve his own murder when all the suspects have his name and face?
**At last, something to go with Caves of Steel on my shelves**
Prime Suspects secures a place alongside Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov in the sci-fi-mystery genre. An extremely well-done mix, mingling the police procedural and the science fiction in equal parts. Keeps one guessing to the end, but provides all the clues. A reader is right beside the detective gathering the clues and learning the world until only one possibility is left.
Jim Bernheimer's trademark snarky main character gets a little old in this particular book because, well, it is the distinguishing characteristic of so many of the characters, an inherent aspect of a clone story. I am pleased to see the clones remain close in personality, yet each develops as a unique person as well. The delightful comedic snarkiness of Confessions of a D-List Supervillain takes on a Noir overtone in this novel.
Worldbuilding - Oh, the sociological worldbuilding in this story is absolutely awesome. Identical twins raised apart will each develop along similar patterns; identical twins raised together will deliberately work to differentiate themselves through dress, hair and hobbies. Prime Suspects' world shows what happens when an individualistic person suddenly is faced with dozens of twins.
And Jim takes the worldbuilding to a second level. For psychology - the struggle for ego in the detectives is worse than the waitresses because the police must work closely together instead of in isolated restaurants. For sociology - In a society without children and without elders, rampant college behavior dominates as the clones struggle to define themselves. For Social-Psychology - In a world without advancement or dreams, the clones face years of therapy, depression, and escapism.
Prime Suspects works well a police procedural, and the mystery is solid. But the story truly shines as a science fiction speculation about how a clone society might function.
(bought at a Convention from author's booth at full price)