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Reviewed by Cheryl E. Rodriguez for Readers' Favorite
W.L. Patenaude pens an out of this world, whodunit mystery in A Printer’s Choice. After the world below had been ravaged by wars, natural disasters, and social unrest, the “great minds” of the day decided to build a new world upside. Life in the orbits was designed to thrive without crime or religion. Yet, somehow the evils of Earth and God followed them upside. In the year 2088, Father John Francis McClellan is sent to the orbital community of New Athens to investigate a murder. Being a programmer for the Marine Corps before his conversion to Catholicism, McClellan meets the qualifications for the job. The victim is Father Raphael Tanglao. No one knows why Tanglao was in New Athens. He was presumed dead after disappearing the previous summer. To get to the bottom of this crime, McClellan seeks the aid of the Author of Truth; what he discovers is the power of free will.
A Printer’s Choice by W. L. Patenaude, plunging into the depths of choice, challenges the reader to consider the enormity of the gift of free will. Laying a firm foundation, but not giving away too much too soon, Patenaude builds his story page upon page. By utilizing a flashback technique, he fills in the gaps, bringing the past into the present. The idea of “deep intellect” or artificial intelligence programmed into high-definition 3-D printers was an innovative concept. As with all science fiction, from 2001: A Space Odyssey, to Data on Star Trek: Next Generation, the notion of making a machine think on its own poses great philosophical and spiritual questions. Being a Christian, I appreciated the biblical references and the search for truth included in the story. As the narrative reaches its apex and descends to its conclusion, the crime mystery is solved, yet its solution gives birth to a deeper, profound mystery: what makes us human? A Printer’s Choice incites contemplation of the essence of the freedom of choice.