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    Review of THE KILL CLAUSE by Gregg Hurwitz (see his website)

    William Morrow, August 2003

    When his seven year-old daughter is killed, U.S. Deputy Marshal Tim Rackley's life comes apart. The local police arrange a fake suicide for the quickly caught child-molester but Tim decides to let justice run its course. The man is clearly guilty and Tim believes that the law and justice coincide. But in this case, a terrible botch in procedures sets the man free and Tim has to decide what to make of his life--as his marriage unravels. Out of the blue, a group approaches him--they are all victims of similar breakdowns in the justice system. They've set up a Commission that intends to redress justice failure and are looking for a point man--an executioner. Tim is their choice but can he turn his back on a lifetime of beliefs? The bait is almost impossible to turn down--they promise the full evidence on his daughter's case.

    THE KILL CLAUSE addresses a common perception in America--that our justice system gives too much protection for criminals and too little to the victims and to society. For many, the idea of retribution is attractive and the Commission makes all of these arguments to Tim. That their arguments are flawed isn't really the point and author Gregg Hurwitz (see more reviews of novels by Hurwitz) knows it.

    Hurwitz solid and fast-paced action--both in the U.S. Marshal scene where Tim shoots several badguys and in the Commission scenes where Tim must confront some of the deadliest killers on the planet while on the run from the police himself. The depiction of Tim's marriage breaking down was moving and troubling as two people in love stand by helpless to do anything to prevent it.

    Although the novel was mostly effective and compelling, at times Hurwitz's beliefs were presented in almost lecture form. The bar scene with the frustrated defense attorneys came off that way for me. The story would have been more powerful if Hurwitz had chosen to bring out his points solely through the story. And for me, the ending was just a bit too pat--so much so that it defeated much of the point of the book. Still, Hurwitz's writing is strong and THE KILL CLAUSE makes for an exciting and thoughtful read.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 1/22/04

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    What do you think? Too generous? Too stingy? Or did I miss the entire point? Send your comments to Give me the okay to use your name and I'll publish all the comments that fit (and don't use unprintable language).