Plot Summary: Ben Corbin is a young Chicago lawyer struggling to establish his own law practice and longing to use his service to help others in a more meaningful way. When he takes on an elderly ex-Russian’s case over a contract dispute, it looks like just another deadbeat case. Little does he realize that the question of who has the legal rights to a certain bank safe deposit box is just the tip of the iceberg. Encountering roadblocks (and dead bodies) at every twist and turn in the unusual case starts Ben to wondering if his client is telling him the truth. If not, what is really in the safe that has mafia members willing to pay exorbitant sums just to get at it? Why is Dr. Ivanosky being so secretive?
My Book Review: I haven’t read a contemporary intrigue thriller for a couple years so I was all set and ready for this one! The plot had me interested in that it centered around a safe deposit box instead of a gory murder, and included Russians and a mystery. I’d never before read anything by Rick Acker. I usually find contemporary suspense stories to be a little too apocalyptic or too “all-guy” for my taste, so I was hoping for better from this Christian legal-thriller author.
First of all, I read this book in about a week, which for me is flying since I’m not really a speed reader. That says something about the pace of the story and the well-handled suspense! I loved how Acker keeps you guessing, drawing the mystery out as long as satisfyingly possible, and then ladling on ever intensifying levels of action to the very end! I never felt his writing was out of balance (ie, boring in spots and then wham! so much action it’s unbelievable). This really would make a great action film, as it played out as a well made thriller movie in my mind. I can honestly say I enjoyed this book more than ones I’ve tried by Oliver North or Joel Rosenberg.
Rick Acker is a former Chicagoan and his love for the city shows in his writing. Interesting descriptions of the places, restaurants, buildings, roads, landscapes, etc. make the story feel at home. And writing about shadowy foreign characters in everyday America gave the book an intriguing edge.
Like the author himself, the main character Ben Corbin is a Christian, and Christianity is mentioned somewhat throughout the book. Several other characters question their life purpose when faced with death. However, the author doesn’t push the story to become a sermon. If you’re the type who avoids Christian fiction like the plague [no pun intended…] for whatever reason, I would say this is definitely one that could be enjoyed despite the minimal spiritual message.
This is a story where the death toll rises. And the contents of the safe deposit box is a horrifying secret. But, I didn’t feel the descriptions were particularly graphic or gory. It was something I could handle.
One thing I disliked was that sometimes it was hard to tell who the main character was. Of course I knew it was the lawyer, Ben Corbin (whom I pictured looking like Ben Affleck), but there were so many other characters in the story (almost too many) that the amount of time spent on Ben was about 50%. There was also a lack of emotional connection to the characters, which would have helped to draw me in further to the story. We are told characters said this, thought that, did such-and-such, but I did not feel it. Yes, okay, call me female!
I got a little lost among all of the legal jargon, but I was able to understand the gist. It provided a sense of realism to the story, and it didn’t deter me from enjoying it.
I found myself reading this in big chunks (something I don’t normally do), which reminded me of when I was a kid and would read a Hardy boy book in a whole day. If you’ve got a lot of waiting around to do at a hospital or airport, etc. this is the book for you!
By the way, I have since learned there is a sequel featuring Ben Corbin entitled, “Blood Brothers.” It is the second in the series, “Dead Man’s Rule.”