Review: Robert Dugoni's second legal thriller to feature David Sloane, Wrongful Death, has the Seattle attorney with an unblemished record taking on a case with seemingly impossible odds of winning.
Sloane, who has just won a million dollar plus wrongful death verdict, is approached by a woman who wants him to take legal action against the United States and its military in what she believes is the wrongful death of her husband, James Ford, a National Guardsman who was killed in Iraq. Whereas a wrongful death verdict can be proven and won in a civil case, it is for all intents and purposes impossible to win the same verdict against the military by virtue of the "Feres Doctrine." This age old doctrine specifies that when an inductee takes the oath of enlistment, he or she swears to protect the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic. At that same time the inductee (and/or any member of their family) also forfeits their right to sue the government or the military, or any superior officers therein, for any injury or death which incurs "incident to service", even if it could be proven that those superior officers acted negligently or deliberately to deprive the inductee of their Constitutional rights. Sloane, a former wounded member of the military himself, feels compelled to take the case and find some justice for James Ford and his family even though it is clear in his mind that he would in all likelihood lose.
This explosive novel effectively blends a fictional account of an event in Iraq with headlines ripped from today's news. Five men of the National Guard from Seattle had been called to duty and sent to Iraq where they were part of the same company. On a mission to deliver food, cigarettes and other items to the soldiers in the field of battle, four of the men were injured, one was killed. James Ford, the dead soldier, had pulled their captain from a collapsing building to safety before dying; the captain's legs were paralyzed for life. All received the Purple Heart. At the time, the four surviving men gave almost identical accounts of the actions leading up to and including the death of Ford. But can this be possible? Sloane knows that it is highly unlikely. But before he can talk to all of them, one committed suicide and one was murdered. A third man was killed shortly after Sloane talked to him, and the fourth now works for the corporation that had contracts in Iraq providing a conflict of interest. In the meantime, Sloane and his family are threatened with violence if he does not stop his inquiry. Will he be able to uncover the deceit, obtain justice for the death of Ford, and still keep his family out of harm's way?
An exciting, moving tale of loyalty, deceit, friendship, duty, greed, and valor, Wrongful Death is an exceptional novel that not only ranks among the best of its genre, it is among the best books to be published this year.
Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Wrongful Death.
Acknowledgment: Touchstone provided a copy of Wrongful Death for this review.
Review Copyright © 2009 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Touchstone (Hardcover), May 2010
ISBN-13: 9781416592969; ISBN-10: 1416592962
Location(s) referenced in Wrongful Death: Seattle, Washington
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Wrongful Death by Robert Dugoni — A David Sloane Mystery
Publication Date: April 2009
List Price: $25.00