Source: Review copy
Publication: 12 May 2022 from Harper Collins
My thanks to Harper Collins and Random Things Tours for an advance copy for review
No one is innocent in this story.
First Rule: Make them like you.
Second Rule: Make them need you.
Third Rule: Make them pay.
They think I’m a young, idealistic law student, that I’m passionate about reforming a corrupt and brutal system.
They think I’m working hard to impress them.
They think I’m here to save an innocent man on death row.
They’re wrong. I’m going to bury him.
Dervla McTiernan’s The Murder Rule is a quick and easy read. It’s full of the things I love in a crime novel – a strong character with motives you long to find out about; a legal setting and moral dilemmas to be overcome.
Though the premise is interesting- a young woman out to revenge a grievous wrong, no matter the cost to herself or others, sets out to thwart the efforts of a group of people working to prove the innocence of a convicted felon – the execution requires a bit of suspension of disbelief.
Hannah Rokeby is a young law student and this story is told partly from her perspective and partly through a series of diary entries written by her mother, Laura in which we learn just why Laura is now an alcoholic, reliant on her daughter to keep her safe and looked after.
Hannah has read these diaries; she stumbled on them at an early age and ever since her shock and rage have been building to a point where she wants revenge. And nothing will stop her from getting what she wants.
What she needs is to insinuate herself into The Innocence Project’s Virginia group. Virginia is where Michael Dandridge, the man she knows is responsible for her mother’s broken condition is incarcerated – 11 years into a sentence for rape and murder. The University of Virginia’s Innocence Project, headed by Professor Rob Parekh, is handling his appeal for release. The Project takes on cases where the claimant protests their innocence and is under a whole life or a death sentence. They take on cases where they believe there may be grounds for a wrongful conviction. That’s not Hannah’s aim, though. She wants something quite different.
With ruthless efficiency and utilising underhand methods, Hannah sets about removing all the obstacles in her path to becoming not just a member of the Project, but also a key team member on Dandridge’s case.
McTiernan takes us through Hannah’s duplicity in getting on to the team and then in having to juggle her own intentions to thwart this appeal with making sure she is still seen as a valuable team member, working to achieve what they feel is justice.
The case then takes quite a different turn and becomes much more of a full on thriller as danger seeps into the team’s investigations at around the same time as Hannah realises that deceiving people who have put their trust in her and who are, to all intents and purposes becoming her friends, is not as easy as she thought it would be.
Verdict: All these conflicting emotions come to a devastating climax and there’s a thrilling courtroom finale when all is revealed. I did have to suspend my disbelief somewhat, but overall I enjoyed this easy and straightforward read which comes with some very notable surprises.
Internationally bestselling and critically acclaimed writer Dervla McTiernan burst onto the writing scene with The Ruin, her crime debut set in Ireland. The Ruin is the first in the detective Cormac Reilly series and has been published in the United States, the UK and Ireland and in New Zealand and Australia, where it was a top ten bestseller. Dervla spent twelve years working as a lawyer. Following the global financial crisis, she moved to Australia and turned her hand to writing. An avid fan of crime and detective novels from childhood, Dervla wrote a short story, The Roommate, which was shortlisted for the Sisters in Crime Scarlet Stiletto Competition. She went on to write The Ruin, and a string of other bestsellers. Dervla is a member of the Sisters in Crime and Crime Writers Association, and lives in Perth, Australia, with her husband and two children.