THE KILL CLAUSE begins in the midst of a tragedy, perhaps the worst
personal tragedy the mind can comprehend. On her seventh birthday
Ginny Rackley is abducted, raped and brutally murdered. The first
chapter opens with her parents, Tim and Dray Rackley, receiving the
news and continues with an unblinking description of their reaction
to the permanent horror that has entered their lives. A suspect is
almost immediately arrested and the case appears to be open and
shut, until a surprise revelation destroys the prosecution's case.
The result is that a monstrous murderer walks free.
Tim and Dray are both members of law enforcement --- Tim is a U.S.
Marshal, Dray is an L.A. County Sheriff --- and the horror of their
loss is multiplied by the fact that the system they are sworn to
uphold has set the murderer of their only daughter free. Tim and
Dray seem to freefall through life while grief and sadness cause
their marriage to slowly but inexorably self-destruct.
Things begin to change, however, when Tim is approached by an
enigmatic man with a mysterious offer that gives Tim the
opportunity to set things right. Tim is offered membership into the
Commission, a shadowy group of five men and one woman, all
professionals in their respective fields, all of whom have watched
the murderers of loved ones go free. The Commission seeks to right
judicial wrongs by executing murderers freed by the legal system
--- and one of the individuals targeted by the Commission is
Ginny's murderer. The Commission appears to be the ideal check and
balance to a court system that seems to punish the victim and
protect the criminal. Nothing though is as simple as it appears,
and the Commission seemingly hides the darkest, most terrible
secret of all.
THE KILL CLAUSE is loaded with moral dilemmas. Some (including this
reviewer) may find the ending not to be entirely satisfying, but
the ultimate aim of this fine novel is not simply to entertain but
to get the reader thinking about the consequences of stepping
outside the system in order to obtain a measure of justice that
otherwise is denied. If that was indeed Hurwitz's intent, he has
succeeded. THE KILL CLAUSE will keep you awake and thinking ---
both while you read it and after you finish it.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 22, 2011