cover image The Murder Rule

The Murder Rule

Dervla McTiernan. Morrow, $27.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-06-304220-9

In 2019, University of Maine law student Hannah Rokeby, the protagonist of this entertaining if flawed psychological thriller from Thriller Award winner McTiernan (The Scholar), shares a home with Laura, her alcoholic mother, until she transfers to the University of Virginia, where she wangles a highly desirable job with the law school’s Innocence Project, which tracks down new evidence in cases of individuals convicted of a crime, but who profess their innocence. She’s assigned to work on freeing Michael Dandridge, who’s on death row, having served 11 years for the rape and murder of Sarah Fitzhugh. Meanwhile, vivid excerpts from her mother’s diary recount dramatic events surrounding the death of wealthy Tom Spencer in 1994, when Laura was working as a maid at an exclusive hotel in Seal Harbor, Maine. McTiernan keeps the suspense high as she gradually reveals how Spencer’s death relates to Hannah’s work on the Dandridge case. Unfortunately, the rush to the finish is riddled with unaddressed issues, like why no one challenges Hannah after she admits in court that she broke into a sheriff’s garage to obtain evidence. McTiernan has done better. Agent: Shane Salerno, Story Factory. (Mar.)