Dead Man’s Rule

Dead Man’s RuleDead Man's Rule by Rick Acker
Genres: Crime, Legal, Suspense
Published by Waterfall Press on June 28, 2016
Pages: 366


About Dead Man’s Rule (from the back cover):
Chicago lawyer Ben Corbin has just launched his private practice when Dr. Mikhail Ivanovsky, a mysterious Russian scientist, hires him to sue for possession of a safe deposit box. But when the box’s owner enlists the city’s highest-powered lawyer—and then turns up dead—the Russian confesses: inside the box is an old Soviet biowarfare formula for the deadliest disease known to humankind.

To make matters worse, a technicality called the Dead Man’s Rule now forbids the scientist from taking the stand. With no one to testify—and therefore no evidence—the odds against Ben seem insurmountable.

As the threat of a massive bioterrorist attack looms large, Ben and his team race to rebuild their case and rescue the box. To succeed, he’ll need all his wits and resources and Dr. Ivanovsky’s specialized knowledge—and both men will need to trust in a higher power. 

It’s been about eight years and over 500 books since I first read Dead Man’s Rule.  There are parts of this book that have remained with me though.  Most notably is the title and how it ties into the story.  However, beyond that, re-reading this book was pretty much like hearing the story for the first time.  Aside from the general plot, I had forgotten most everything else.

I am so glad Waterfall has decided to re-release this book.  It’s such a good story and very applicable to current events.

I am so glad Waterfall has decided to re-release this book.  It’s such a good story and very applicable to current events.  The terrorist plot is even more plausible today than it was ten years ago.  With the rise of ISIS and other ruthless terrorist organizations, there is little doubt that if they had their hands on the technology described in this book, that fiction would become reality.  This is scary, but just as the characters in this book realize, trusting in God is our hope and comfort.

Before re-reading Dead Man’s Rule, I dug out my old review of this book to see if a) it was usable (it’s cringe-worthy actually) and b) for a refresher on my initial reaction.  While the review as a hole is terrible, I do agree with my initial thoughts that the characters are excellent.  I thoroughly enjoyed Ben, Dr. Ivanovsky, and especially Sergei.  I would love to see Sergei have his own spin-off series.  Each character brings a unique perspective and backstory to the overarching story.  While I disagree with some of the choices the characters make, there is at least a plausible explanation based on their history.

The characters are excellent; I thoroughly enjoyed Ben, Dr. Ivanovsky, and especially Sergei.

I believe this was Rick’s first adult novel and as a result, it shows a few new author issues.  At times the dialog is a little clunky and the plot stretches reality a bit.  Not in terms of what could happen, but rather in terms of how much authorities would allow Ben to be involved in their work.  For myself, I can generally go with the story and not get tripped up on whether or not the FBI would really reveal something to a lawyer or allow a person to participate in a particular event.  However, I do realize that some readers want high probability not simply possibility in their fiction.  For those readers, this might stretch things a bit too far.

It’s the spiritual aspect that makes Dead Man’s Rule a great read.

The storyline is excellent and the characters equally strong, but much like my initial impression of this book, it’s the spiritual aspect that makes Dead Man’s Rule a great read.  The themes are not subtle, but they are a great comfort when dealing with the possibility of mass destruction.  Towards the end of the book, readers are reminded, “For our lives do not rest in the hands of terrorists, and the hour of our death is not appointed by men.  We belong to God, who promises, ‘You shall not be afraid of any terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day; of the plague that stalks in the darkness, nor of the sickness that lays waste at midday.’”  In the end, this is the strength of Dead Man’s Rule.  It allows the reader to see the evil in humanity, but also the power of God.

Dead Man’s Rule is a highly entertaining novel, that’s very relevant for today’s world events.  It’s strong courtroom drama combined with an intriguing backstory and interesting characters which makes this a great read for fans of legal dramas.

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