The Murder Rule

Dervla McTiernan

William Morrow Pub.

May 10th, 2022

The Murder Rule by Dervla McTiernan will remind readers of a Lee Child story. It has a small town with corrupt officials. The story has the Child emphasis of blackmail, murder, corruption, and betrayal. 

“I wanted to play with those ideas.  People get so convinced of an idea one way or the other. Miscarriages of justice are not always about some officials being corrupt. It seems people only hear a side of the story they want to hear, ignoring the evidence to the contrary. Many times, we decide beforehand and then seek evidence to confirm it. Are they seeing the whole picture or just are looking at what they want to believe?  I put in this book quote, “It was clearly just as easy to put someone on a pedestal on innocence and blind yourself to their faults.””

Third year law student Hannah Rokeby transferred from a law school in Maine to the University of Virginia. She is leaving her mother, a very manipulative alcoholic. Once at UV she joins the Innocence Project, which is currently representing convicted killer Michael Dandridge. The IP tracks down evidence to prove the convicted criminal’s innocence. While everybody else is working to exonerate the client, Hannah’s primary goal is to sabotage his chance at freedom. Why? Because she found her mom’s diary which chronicles how her mom, then a maid, had an affair with a wealthy collegiate, and got pregnant.  Unfortunately, Hannah never knew her father because there were suspicious circumstances surrounding his death. But the sheriff and the district attorney want to prevent anyone from snooping around. Hannah and her co-workers, Sean and Camila, must watch their backs as they try to untangle the facts.

“At the beginning of the book, Hannah is this idealistic law student. She comes across as someone who wants to change the world and impress those in the Innocence Project.  But that is not who she is at all. Hannah is darker, more complicated, and ruthless, but grows a lot through the book.  She is imaginative, creative, no boundaries, pragmatic, and feels betrayed. She conned her way into the Innocence Project. I hope readers see her as likeable. She followed the evidence and sought justice.  She can change her mind and question more instead of ignoring it. She followed the facts and the truths. She felt a responsibility to inform herself and took responsibility of her actions.  She took the extra step.”

This story took readers on a roller coaster ride with their assumptions and emotions.  As the plot progresses, people will see Hannah as first an idealistic student, then very ruthless and manipulative, and finally very sympathetic. The story is one where readers will not want to put the book down.



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About the Author

Elise Cooper

Elise writes book reviews that always include a short author interview.