Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of Wrongful Death by Robert Dugoni. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.
ISBN-10: 1-4165-9100-1 (1416591001)
ISBN-13: 978-1-4165-9100-9 (9781416591009)
Publication Date: April 2009
List Price: $25.00
Review: Robert Dugoni's second legal thriller to feature David Sloane, Wrongful Death, has the Seattle attorney with an unblemished record taking on a case with seemingly impossible odds of winning.
Sloane, who has just won a million dollar plus wrongful death verdict, is approached by a woman who wants him to take legal action against the United States and its military in what she believes is the wrongful death of her husband, James Ford, a National Guardsman who was killed in Iraq. Whereas a wrongful death verdict can be proven and won in a civil case, it is for all intents and purposes impossible to win the same verdict against the military by virtue of the “Feres Doctrine.” This age old doctrine specifies that when an inductee takes the oath of enlistment, he or she swears to protect the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic. At that same time the inductee (and/or any member of their family) also forfeits their right to sue the government or the military, or any superior officers therein, for any injury or death which incurs “incident to service”, even if it could be proven that those superior officers acted negligently or deliberately to deprive the inductee of their Constitutional rights. Sloane, a former wounded member of the military himself, feels compelled to take the case and find some justice for James Ford and his family even though it is clear in his mind that he would in all likelihood lose.
This explosive novel effectively blends a fictional account of an event in Iraq with headlines ripped from today's news. Five men of the National Guard from Seattle had been called to duty and sent to Iraq where they were part of the same company. On a mission to deliver food, cigarettes and other items to the soldiers in the field of battle, four of the men were injured, one was killed. James Ford, the dead soldier, had pulled their captain from a collapsing building to safety before dying; the captain’s legs were paralyzed for life. All received the Purple Heart. At the time, the four surviving men gave almost identical accounts of the actions leading up to and including the death of Ford. But can this be possible? Sloane knows that it is highly unlikely. But before he can talk to all of them, one committed suicide and one was murdered. A third man was killed shortly after Sloane talked to him, and the fourth now works for the corporation that had contracts in Iraq providing a conflict of interest. In the meantime, Sloane and his family are threatened with violence if he does not stop his inquiry. Will he be able to uncover the deceit, obtain justice for the death of Ford, and still keep his family out of harm’s way?
An exciting, moving tale of loyalty, deceit, friendship, duty, greed, and valor, Wrongful Death is an exceptional novel that not only ranks among the best of its genre, it is among the best books to be published this year.
Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Wrongful Death and to Touchstone for providing a copy of the book for this review.
Review Copyright © 2009 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
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Synopsis (from the publisher): Just minutes after winning a $1.6 million wrongful-death verdict, attorney David Sloane confronts the one case that threatens to blemish his unbeaten record in the courtroom. Beverly Ford wants Sloane to sue the United States government and military in the mysterious death of her husband, James, a national guardsman killed in Iraq. While a decades-old military doctrine might make Ford's case impossible to win, Sloane, a former soldier himself, is compelled to find justice for the widow and her four children in what is certain to become the biggest challenge of his career.
With little hard evidence to go on, Sloane calls on his friend, reclusive former CIA agent turned private investigator Charles Jenkins, to track down the other men serving with Ford the night he died. Alarmingly, two of the four who returned home alive didn't stay that way for long, and though the mission's wheelchairbound commander now works for a civilian contractor, he refuses to talk. The final -- and youngest -- soldier is also the most elusive, but he's their only shot at discovering the truth -- if Sloane and Jenkins can keep him alive long enough to tell it.
Meanwhile, Sloane isn't the only one on a manhunt. As he propels his case into a federal courtroom, those seeking to hide the truth threaten Sloane's family, forcing his new wife Tina and stepson Jake into hiding, where they become the targets of a relentless killer. Now Sloane must race to uncover what really happened on that fatal mission, not only to bring justice to a family wronged but to keep himself and the people closest to him from becoming the next casualties.
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