Punishment by Scott J. Holliday


By: Scott J. Holliday
Genres: Thriller
Pages: 235
Series: Detective Barnes #1
Punishment by Scott J. Holliday

Do you want to know what it’s like to die, to kill, to really fear for your life? Then get hooked…

Detroit-based homicide detective John Barnes has seen it all—literally. Thanks to a technologically advanced machine, detectives have access to the memories of the living, the dying, and the recently dead. But extracting victims’ experiences firsthand and personally reliving everything up to the final, brutal moments of their lives—the sights, the sounds, the scents, the pain—is also the punishment reserved for the criminals themselves.

Barnes has had enough. Enough of the memories that aren’t his. Enough of the horror. Enough of the voices inside his head that were never meant to take root…until a masked serial killer known as Calavera strikes a little too close to home.

Now, with Calavera on the loose, Barnes is ready to reconnect, risking his life—and his sanity. Because in the mind of this serial killer, there is one secret even Barnes has yet to see…


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When technology has come so far that you can see what happens during someone’s murder, is that too far? Or not far enough? That is one of the main questions that this book explores. John Barnes, the main character is a police officer who attaches himself to a machine.  The machine then is connected to the remains of someone no longer alive. John can see what happened directly leading up to their death.


It is never peaceful, it is always violent, but then of course it would be right? He is a police officer who deals with the dead. John is about to end it all, a drink and a quick death. However, a serial killer, Calavera, has other plans for him. Including making sure that John is pulled into the crime scenes in the worst possible ways.


What starts as a routine crime turns into an obsession.  When you see the dead every day, how long before you become one? Or in this instance, how long before your memories are no longer your own, but those of someone else?


Technology fascinates me. But when is too far, too far? Do we create technology like this, or do we go more towards the minority report? Convicting people before it happens, versus watching their deaths in our minds? Are either possible? If criminals become smarter, will our technology advance or will our police become smarter? Or are we as a species only able to get so “smart” before we no longer are human?  Yes, this is a mystery that dives into the human brain, but it is so much more than that. It asks questions that I am unsure if anyone knows the answers to.  Ethics is important in every realm of life, and this book really looks at some of the ethical issues that come from when you integrate machinery with the human brain.


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About Scott J. Holliday

Scott J. Holliday was born and raised in Detroit. In addition to a lifelong love of books and reading, he’s pursued a range of curiosities and interests, including glassblowing, boxing, and much more. His most recent novel is Machine City, the sequel to Punishment, both in the Detective Barnes series. He loves to cook and create stories for his wife and two daughters.


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