The Murder Rule by Dervla McTiernan is for people who are always up for psychological suspense. Australian author Dervla McTiernan has established her name as one of the biggest crime fiction authors with the Cormac Reilly Series (The Ruin, The Scholar, and The Good Turn). This standalone thriller is inspired by a real-life story concerning a young law student. This law student worked at the Innocence Project and ultimately discloses evidence that exonerated a prisoner who had been behind bars for 26 years. There are only three rules – make them like you, make them need you, and make them pay.
It is a psychological thriller about lies that people tell and the result these may bring for the ones who believe these lies. It is the year 2019 – Hannah Rokeby is a third-year law student at the University of Maine. Hannah lives with her demanding and alcoholic mother in Orono, Maine. She wants to join the Innocence Project, the legal center present at the University of Virginia. It involves students in the mission to free those who have suffered injustice and have been unjustly imprisoned. She managed to join the team of law students under the guidance of Professor Robert Parekh.
Hannah is assigned to take care of the case of Michael Dandridge. He has been in prison for 11 years for the murder and rape of Sarah Fitzhugh. In the meantime, vivid extracts from her mother Laura’s diary recount some dramatic events involving the death of affluent Tom Spencer, which happened in 1994. This incident happened during the time Laura was working as a maid at an exclusive hotel in Seal Harbor, Maine. Hannah gradually discloses how Spencer’s death is related to the Dandridge case. Dandridge is claiming that he was beaten out by the Sherriff to make a false confession. As Hannah attempts to square what she believes to be true and what evidence is suggesting, her present and past collide to create a jaw-dropping effect. The ramifications are only the matter of life and death.
So, let’s go back to the 1994 summer as elaborated in Laura’s diary. Laura was a cleaner at a hotel. The other maids were busy with their side hustles so she was assigned to clean a big place for the rich ones. Two young men – Tom Spencer and Michael Dandridge were staying there. Michael did not seem like Laura a lot but Tom was a good guy and soon they started seeing each other. The two men used to argue a lot. When the time of their departure arrived, Tom decided to stay back for one more week. Michael was quite furious about this. The next morning Tom was found dead near the jetty. It seemed like an accident because he was drunk. However, Laura is convinced that Michael had something to do with this.
Although Hannah is presented as an unlikeable and manipulative character from the very beginning, she is courageous and resourceful. By the end of the story, you would be on her side.
The Murder Rule by Dervla McTiernan is in development as a television series at FX. It is set in the United States where the author spent a summer volunteering as a law student herself. As a former lawyer McTiernan is well-familiar with legal stuff, she knows how to pull the right strings without revealing her hands. But the fascinating part is this Innocence Project actually exists, and one of them is also in Australia. A complex and relentless thriller focused on a female protagonist on a journey of her self-discovery is certainly a must-read book of this year – NO ONE IS INNOCENT IN THIS STORY.
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