THE RULE OF NINE is the second installment in a planned trilogy by Steve Martini. In book one, GUARDIAN OF LIES (2009), his familiar series character, attorney Paul Madriani, is involved in what could have been a nuclear disaster at the Coronado naval base. And in this sequel, still on the loose are “the Mexicutioner” aka Liquida and an obsolete hippie known as the Old Weatherman, who was a member of the Students for a Democratic Society, a ’60s anti-government group.
Liquida is out to kill Madriani and his associates, including his daughter, Sarah. The Old Weatherman wants to plant a bomb in downtown Washington, D.C. to destroy the right-wing establishment. At some point, Madriani begins to think these two terrorists have joined forces.
The high-powered action throws Madriani into the middle of these covert and other overt activities. He joins forces with Joselyn Cole (from CRITICAL MASS, one of Martini’s stand-alone novels), an attorney turned activist and an expert in weapons control with contacts in high places. As things move along, they become romantically involved. Bodies litter the landscape of the narrative, making for an action-filled read that speeds across the United States.
Most Martini fans are used to the legal thrillers that comprise his oeuvre. In an interview, he referred to Madriani’s gradual change, “… The early Madriani stories rarely strayed from standard legal thriller fare. Gradually, the plots have grown far more multi-faceted and far-reaching.” This is certainly the case with GUARDIAN OF LIES and THE RULE OF NINE.
Keeping his work timely and having Madriani age in real time have been at the forefront of Martini’s writing scheme. Bringing modern-day threats to the United States and describing the machinations of the “bad guys” speak to his eye for detail. He explains the hard science to readers in a way that is approachable and understandable.
"I don't actually know if Madriani will ever get back into just a courtroom setting," Martini says. "It's a big dilemma. Part of it depends on how the trilogy ends and frankly I don't know the answer to that yet." He leaves readers with a cliffhanger ending that will segue into the next book seamlessly. Fans will find themselves turning pages with a vengeance in order to keep up with the tension and suspense. THE RULE OF NINE is a perfect summer book or one to curl up with in front of a cozy fire.
Reviewed by Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum on January 23, 2011