An entertaining thriller about a hotshot lawyer.
On behalf of Iraq War widow Beverly Ford, mother of four, David Sloane is going up against the U.S. government in a wrongful death action. He doesn’t have a prayer. Every legal savant he’s consulted on the subject—and there have been many—has told him so, and now he’s a believer in “the Feres doctrine,” which in complicated ways makes it all but impossible to construe any military death as legally wrongful. Find a loophole in Feres, he’s advised by a colleague realistic enough to take a dim view of his prospects, or you’re toast. Though he knows Beverly’s quest is hopeless, Sloane is convinced James Ford was a good man unjustly treated, a combination his inner knight errant can’t resist. Once he’s signed on, he realizes that he’s in the kind of battle whose boundaries go far outside the courtroom. Someone wants the details of a certain terrible night outside Fallujah to remain a blur. Specialist Ford’s Humvee got lost and ambushed in a blinding sandstorm, and Ford was killed. He wouldn’t have been, Mrs. Ford insists, if the military had done what it was their clear responsibility to do: provide her husband with the proper protective armor. As Sloane’s investigation deepens, untoward things happen with unsettling frequency. Key players are hard to find. Witnesses meet untimely ends. And when death threats to his wife and son are openly delivered in the most matter-of-fact tone, Sloane smells something truly rotten in the corridors of power.
Good guys to like, villains to hiss, windmills to attack. If it’s all a bit pat, Dugoni (Damage Control, 2007, etc.) plots deftly enough to keep most readers happy anyway.