The Rule of Law: John Lescroart
Moral ethics and values come into play in this outstanding novel that will test the limits of Dismas Hardy, the partners in his new reestablished law firm and bring to light just how far he will go to help someone in need of more than just legal advice. Dismas Hardy is an outstanding litigator but even more he is a loyal friend and working both sides of the courtroom and having connections with the DA’s office was a plus up until now. Wes Farrell unfortunately does not get reelected and the person taking his position of district attorney is anything but trustworthy and moral. Changing the rules and wanting to take down Dismas is one of his priorities. Noticing changes in people and their sudden behavior swings and lack of notice when missing work, alerts Dismas to the fact that Phyllis McGowan his secretary when not showing up for work and not informing anyone to get coverage is totally out of character. Her demeanor is professional and stark, and her no-nonsense attitude helps keep him centered and informed. But, something happens when he and Abe his primary investigator decide to go to her apartment to make sure that nothing happened to her what they find alerts both of them that someone is living in her apartment, something is definitely out of line or order and although she returns seemingly unscathed after a few days absence, the presence of the police wanting to arrest her takes the firm by storm as the detectives sent to arrest her show no courtesy, no kindness and are the true meaning of police harshness and brutality. Did Phyllis really murder an ex-thief, extortionist and pimp named Hector Valdez?
Within this novel we learn about the four principles of rule of law: Accountability where the government as private actors are accountable under the law. Just laws where laws are clear, publicized, table and are applied evenly, and protect the fundamental rights, including the security of persons and property and certain core human rights. Why were this violated and broken when Phyllis was arrested? Open government the process by which the laws are enacted, administered and enforced are accessible, fair and efficient except in the case of Celia who was wrongly arrested, accused, threatened and supposedly committed suicide not having to face prison or deportation. Finally, accessible and impartial dispute resolution where justice is delivered timely by competent, ethical and independent representatives and neutrals who are accessible, have adequate resources and reflect the communities that they serve. So, where did it go wrong with Phyllis and how and why did the DA bypass the homicide detectives and take the case to the grand jury creating a media frenzy and much more. As we learn about Phyllis’ younger brother Adam, just out of prison who was convicted for armed robbery and whose shady dealing will lead the police to learn more about him and his involvement in the murder of Valdez. Added in we learn that Phyllis became involved as one of the conductors on a modern-day Underground Railroad. Her goal was to help undocumented people from being deported giving them somewhere to stay until they could be safely moved out of the country to Canada or somewhere else. They would avoid the U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement and saving Celia Montoya, who they considered murdered Hector yet his sex slave while living and dealing with him, Hardy realizes that Phyllis is in a bad position and the DA is out for blood and his treatment of her and Hardy is just one way to exert his power and his resentment and revenge against Farrell. Every step of the way Jameson will try to override and undermine Hardy, Abe and Farrell and even sent his new Chief, to interview Gina trying to get her to incriminate herself in two cold cases. Things take on an interesting turn when the author allows readers into the home of the DA and we hear both him and his wife Kate admit to the murders of Peter Ash and Geoffrey Cooke. Affairs have a way of ending tragic and each one of these players, including Dismas, Abe and Gina have secrets they would like to stay buried. Added in Rita, Mel and Adam are interviewed, questioned and Beth Tully and her partner realize that there are inconsistencies in their stories leading to the arrest of someone else for Hector’s murder and placing Dismas in a difficult place with Phyllis.
Things travel down a more rocky road when the head of homicide is placed on administrative leave by his boss and the DA is determined to take down even more people that dare to defy him including Dismas, Wes, Abe and Beth better watch her back because he is more dangerous than they thought when she wants to go after another cold case where the wrong person was convicted.
From the Chief of Police, to the Mayor, the new head of homicide, the head of criminal investigations, all the way up the chain of command, everyone gets involved but who will come out standing at the end. Jameson wants Dismas, Abe, Gina and Beth taken down and he is using Greene as his patsy to get the information he needs as we hear the voice of Bina Cooke, learn about the sequence of events that took place during the Dockside Massacre, where the weapons might be and what mistake or lies Jameson is still covering up, we wonder: How can you take this man down? Why does he seem above the law? Will Dismas and his team finally prove that he is a dangerous component in law enforcement? While Beth is warned by a new player, from the FBI brought into the case to be aware of her safety and hopefully she won’t be another casualty but the DA has her on his radar, Greene is asking questions and is relentless and one reporter seems to have the pulse on the events and with her help, files that someone else will the DA succeed in his witch-hunt?
Author John Lescroart has woven a tapestry of events that have creatively intertwined with each one intricately placed until it unravels thread by thread and hopefully will unseal the truth strand by strand.
Investigations take on different turns and evidence can be buried, changed or challenged as Chet Greene thinks he’s found something that might change the outcome of the Dockside Massacre, but will he be able to bring down the parties he feels are guilty?
Indiscretions are not uncommon and sometimes thinks can get out of hand. While Beth and Ike are relieved of their positions, the DA is relieving his tensions in another way. The ending is explosive, suspenseful and takes an unexpected turn as once again John Lescroart throws several curve balls, takes aim, makes sure he’s on target and the final reveals will shock readers and make you understand why lawyers, police officials, the Mayor and the chief of police need to remember before casting doubt, making false arrests and being too premature that they need to reread and remember the definition of THE RULE OF LAW! A must read filled true to life events, characters that keep the plot moving and a storyline that could have been ripped right out of the headlines.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine/MJ Network