Dead Man’s Rule
by Rick Acker
Some of the first comments I read about Rick Acker’s legal thrillers compared his work to that of John Grisham. I, along with many other more qualified critics, consider Grisham to be in the top in his genre. I snickered a little at this appraisal of Acker and said to myself, “Well, that’s a little overblown.” I am currently chewing away at my naysaying words. Grisham and Acker both write legal thrillers with interesting characters, exciting action, strong plot lines, and details arising from effective background research. The legal situations are integral to the plot, not inserted as an afterthought because the author is also a lawyer. Acker is not an imitator of Grisham; in fact, Acker is an excellent writer in his own right. There is always room for another good suspense writer!
Dead Man’s Rule had my attention right from the prologue, “A Relic of War,” which is not a typical background piece. It pushes the reader into the story, ready or not. The setting changes in the first chapter to Ben Corbin’s legal offices but the interest level doesn’t change, and immediately the reader begins mentally searching for the connection.
I like it when the main character is human (flawed but trying) and likable, and Ben Corbin fits into that category. If there is a weak character as far as the writing goes, it is found in the depiction of Ben’s wife, Noelle. She is two-dimensional in a world of three-dimensional characters, but her role in the novel is fairly small.
The archvillain, General Elbek Shishani, is fleshed out by Acker so that he is not just some “bad guy” to be dealt with by the hero and his CIA and FBI associates. The reader will probably not approve of Shishani’s actions, but the author does share how he became who he is.
Reader, be prepared to learn about legal procedures and an arcane law that becomes critical to one of Corbin’s cases. Acker avoids getting too technical so the read remains exciting, but the reader can understand all of the legal complications and how they affect both the innocent and the guilty. He also takes us into the world of bioterrorism and Russian and Chechen politics as well as the sometimes competing interests of the various law enforcement and investigative agencies in the U.S.
Dead Man’s Rule is my first experience with Rick Acker’s writing, but he has published four more suspenseful books. I can’t wait to try another. If it is like Dead Man’s Rule, I’ll have trouble putting it down.
I extend thanks to netgalley.com and to Waterfall Press for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an unbiased review.