A Book Spy Review: ‘The Rule of Law’ by John Lescroart

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The Rule of LawFollowing last year’s Poison, Defense Attorney Dismas Hardy returns for his 18th case in the latest nail-biter from New York Times bestselling author John Lescroart. 

Everything is running smoothly until Phyllis McGowan, Hardy’s longtime (and much beloved) secretary doesn’t show up for work. Not one to normally no-call no-show, Hardy goes to Phyllis’ apartment, only to discover that she’s been hiding a number of secrets, not to mention illegal immigrants. 

In a present-day version of the runaway railroad, Phyllis has been helping to smuggle immigrants who are fleeing ICE into the US, providing shelter and safe harbor from those trying to round them up and send ’em back to where they came from. She’s also never let it slip that she has a younger brother, Adam, who was incarcerated for armed robbery, before walking free several weeks prior to her not showing up for work. Things only worsen once Phyllis re-emerges after she’s arrested for accessory to murder in the death of Hector Valdez, a dangerous human trafficker who deals in all kinds of shady businesses. 

Celia Montoya, an illegal immigrant, is the one charged with actually killing Hector,  but the police trace her back to Phyllis–whom she stayed with while recently on the run after coming to America. Complicating matters is the fact that the murder supposedly took place the same day that Dismas noticed Phyllis missing. Still, Hardy stands by his friend and secretary, though he doesn’t have the juice he once did. 

New District Attorney Ron Jameson has an ax to grind with Hardy. Now that he has the man in his crosshairs, he’s hellbent on ending him and anyone else associated with him, including Phyllis and Dismas’ new legal team. As the story unfolds in typical fast-paced Lescroart fashion, readers are treated to a number of twists, turns, shocks, and reveals that set up a cat-and-mouse game between Hardy and Jameson, who happens to have a number of skeletons in his own closet . . . 

Now nearly twenty books in, Lescroart has tried new ways to refresh his series over the past few years. He finally accomplished that here by giving Hardy a worthy adversary in the new DA, who replaced his old friend, Wes Farrell. Whereas before, when Dismas could pull strings and favors, he’s now on his own. Worse, he’s on his own and Jameson is using his position as the DA to go after him, and with few friends to turn to, Hardy has to go about his business in new ways. That adds a new element to the story, which works nicely and provides the kind of suspense that longtime fans look for with this series.

Likewise, Lescroart hits on timely themes, as immigration and sanctuary cities remain a controversial topic in today’s world of 24-hour news coverage. That said, while much of the undocumented immigration plot thread feels taken from the headlines, the story itself, which focuses plenty on the game between Hardy and Jameson, lends itself nicely to those on both sides of the political spectrum. So no matter which side you lean towards, Lescroart offers enough right down the middle to satisfy anyone looking for fast-paced thrills. 

John Lescroart has done this a long time and isn’t showing any signs of slowing down anytime soon . . . and neither is Dismas Hardy. The Rule of Law is vintage Lescroart, drawing on parallels between real-life and hot-button issues while also providing top-notch entertainment.

Book Details

Author: John Lescroart
Series: Dismas Hardy #18
Pages: 336 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1501115731
Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: January 22, 2019
Book Spy Rating: 7.5/10

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Praised as “one of today’s finest book reviewers” by New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, Ryan Steck (“The Godfather of the thriller genre” — Ben Coes) has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). Steck also works full-time as a freelance editor and pens a monthly thriller column for CrimeReads. For more information, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.

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