Steve Martini has been a novelist for some time now. When he first started he was one of the best writers in the legal thriller genre but then he fell off his game. With his new novel The Rule of Nine , he gets back into the competition. He is still not as good as he once was but this book is a marked improvement over his last one.
This book again has as its hero attorney Paul Madriani. Paul has been involved in a serious situation in the past which led to him and his associates being targeted by a deranged killer. Paul thinks that he, his daughter, his law partner and his investigator are all in danger but the government doesn't take the possibility of this threat too seriously.
When a murder victim is discovered and she has a close association with Paul, the attorney knows that the killer is on his trail. He confides his problems to Joselyn Cole, a weapons systems expert who believes his story about the killer. Together they work to find out more information and to keep themselves safe from harm. As more bodies pile up the situation gets more and more dire. Madriani determines there is going to be a cataclysmic event as well as the murders of more people.
The plot in this book is difficult to follow. The mastermind of the whole evil scenario is a murky character at best. Then when you reach the end of the book you discover that a main subplot has been developed to set up a sequel to the story.
There is also too much filler in the book. The plot should be enough to carry the story forward but Martini appears to think it needs expanding. So there are paragraphs and pages of useless and unwanted information. A plot like the one carrying The Rule of Nine needs to be on focus and direct.
Martini is a good, solid writer. He has written about Paul Madriani so many times that he knows the ins and outs of the character and how he will act and react. He also does a good job of creating a truly evil villain and that is essential in any story of this type. There is suspense and horror at the acts of the killer.
Martini really suffers because his stories were at one time so tight and tense. He is competing with his own past performances. Still you won't be bored or feel you have wasted your time when you read The Rule of Nine. It is a suspenseful story full of twists and turns - and if you want to skip over the "filler" you can do that without messing up the plot.
Maybe next time Martini will get completely back to his early skills and create a novel that is up to his other achievements. His fans, and there are many, can only hope.
"The Rule of Nine" is published by William Morrow. It contains 390 pages and sells for $26.99.