Review: The Last Exit by Michael Kaufman

Title: The Last Exit by Michael Kaufman
Jen Lu Mystery Series Book One
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Genre: Futuristic, Sci-Fi, Mystery
Length: 298 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Perfect for fans of Ben Winters and Cory Doctorow. In this thrilling near-future novel, the secret to eternal life is closely guarded by people who will do anything to protect it–even if it means destroying everything in their path.

Set in Washington D.C. in the near future, climate change has hit hard, fires are burning, unemployment is high, and controversial longevity treatments are only available to the very rich. Enter resourceful young police detective, Jen B. Lu, and her ‘partner’, Chandler, a SIM implant in her brain and her instant link to the Internet and police records, and constant voice inside her head. He’s an inquisitive tough guy, with a helluva sense of humor and his own ideas about solving crimes.

As a detective in the Elder Abuse unit, Jen is supposed to be investigating kids pushing their aging parents to “exit” so they are eligible to get the longevity drug. But what really has her attention are the persistent rumors about Eden, an illegal version of the longevity drug, and the bizarre outbreak of people aging almost overnight, then suddenly dying–is this all connected? Is Big Pharma involved?

When Jen’s investigations of Eden take her too close to the truth, she is suspended, Chandler is deactivated, and her boyfriend is freaked out by “the thing inside her brain.” This leaves Jen to pursue a very dangerous investigation all by herself.


The Last Exit by Michael Kaufman is an imaginative sci-fi mystery set in the future.

With an AI brain implant named Chandler, Jen Lu is a detective with the DC Metro’s Elder Abuse Unit.  Elder abuse has become a serious issue because parents must “exit” when they turn 65 in order to let their children receive the “Timeless” treatment that will save them from a rapid onset spongiform encephalitis. If they do not exit, their children will die a horrific death. Jen has heard mention of “Eden” which appears to be a black market version of the treatment. When she mentions her suspicions to her boss Captain Kyrie Brooks, he tells her there is nothing for her to investigate.  But when people begin dying from an advanced form of the encephalitis,  Jen ignores Brooks’ order and soon stumbles into a possible conspiracy. Will Jen uncover the truth before more people die?

Jen is in her late thirties and loves her career.  With her mother nearing the age of 65, Jen is struggling a bit with the upcoming exit.  Her childhood was quite abusive but her mother’s dementia has changed her into a completely different person. Jen has been in a yearlong casual relationship with Zach whose parents have no worries about their exit. Zach, on the other hand, is against their decision even if it might cost his life. Since Jen has not opened up to him about her childhood, he does not understand how she can be so at ease with what is about to happen to her mother.  Jen and Zach are growing closer, but since she is unable to tell him about Chandler, she is uncertain about the future of their relationship.

Jen’s partner Les is also her best friend but she is keeping her Eden investigation from him. So when she is forced to go a bit rogue, she is on her own except for assistance from an unexpected group of people. She is inventive as she gains access to details that will hopefully lead her to the answers she is searching for. Cool advances in technology are also quite beneficial when she discovers she only has a short period of time to catch the people responsible for distributing the drugs that are causing the multitude of deaths from the advanced encephalitis.  When she finds herself in a very dangerous situation, is there any chance Jen will escape? And will her suspects escape before they can be brought to justice?

The Last Exit is a riveting mystery with a fantastic cast of characters and a creative storyline. The sci-fi elements are richly developed and easy to visualize.  Jen’s investigation is fascinating and moves at a brisk pace. With intriguing twists and turns, Michael Kaufman brings this clever futuristic movie to an edge of the seat conclusion.  This exciting first installment of the Jen Lu Mystery series will leave readers eagerly awaiting the next book in the series.

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