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The Kill Clause [Mass Market Paperback]

Gregg Hurwitz
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Aug. 12 2004

In one terrible instant, everything deputy U.S. marshal Tim Rackley believes in is shattered by the brutal murder of his young daughter. He watches helplessly as her killer walks free on a legal technicality. And now his righteous need for vengeance is leading him into a shadowy no-man's-land between justice and the law ... and into the welcoming fold of "The Commission."

A vigilante group of relentless streetwise operatives who have each lost a loved one to violent crime, "The Commission" confronts the failings of an imperfect judicial system, cleaning up society's "mistakes" covertly, efficiently, and permanently. But Rackley is about to discover that the price of playing God is much higher than he anticipated, plunging him into a desperate and devastating battle to save his marriage, his career, his life, and his soul.

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Product Description

From Amazon

The Kill Clause's opening pages will knot the stomach of even the most seasoned crime reader. U.S. Marshall Tim Rackley is expecting his daughter home for her seventh birthday party. Instead he finds a fellow cop at his door, bearing the news that little Ginny has been savagely dismembered, her remains recovered in a nearby creek. Only an hour or so later, reeling with shock and grief, Rackley learns that the perpetrator has been caught--and that some fellow cops have arranged a little one-on-one meeting for him at an isolated shack, complete with an untraceable gun. Rackley arrives, faces this monster, and...

But that would be giving too much away. Suffice it to say that this powerful opening launches a killer thriller, rich in both adrenaline-pumping action and thought-provoking issues of vigilantism, power, and the moral dilemmas of those sworn to uphold the law. Hurwitz's prose is muscular yet intelligent; he draws characters well, and he unrolls action scenes with amazing vividness (as well as treating us to lots of fascinating lore about lock picking, identity theft, and cell-phone technology). Occasionally his plot twists verge on the outlandish, and a few characters seem to exist only to speechify on a certain point of view. But these are minor flaws in this fine, intense, often un-put-downable tale. --Nicholas H. Allison --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

A motley crew of ex-cops and fringe characters, who have all lost loved ones and seen the villains walk, are organized into a vigilante hit squad by a media personality who sees this as a good launchpad for his books in this first thriller in a projected series by Hurwitz (Do No Harm; Minutes to Burn). The squad-or the Commission, as it calls itself-chooses as executioner Tim Rackley, a US marshal and former Special Forces muscle who is vulnerable to their offer, having just lost his only child in a gruesome attack ("her remains had required three biohazard bags to depart the scene"). Devastated, Rackley leaves his job and his wife, a county sheriff, to take the assignment, disappearing into the murk of L.A. to begin a series of high-tech hits on high-profile criminals who have slipped through the system's cracks-including the man who, Rackley believes, killed his daughter. But Rackley suspects the Commission of fuzzy logic after one unclear target assessment leads two of the Commission (a murderous pair of bulked-up ex-cop brothers called, none too subtly, the "Mastersons") to go on a rampage, invoking the Commission's "kill clause"-the immediate (and brutal) dissolution of the squad. Caught between his former law enforcement colleagues and the Mastersons' rising bloodlust, Tim must risk one more vigilante act to put justice back in the hands of the courts. The high gore level and farfetched premise give the novel a cartoonish edge, but Hurwitz's deft descriptions of Tim's methods of disappearing, breaking-and-entering, and stealing identities are convincing, and his fast-paced plotting will keep readers riveted. Tim is a promising series hero, with his multitude of skills and conflicted loyalties, and Hurwitz is off to a fine start with this first installment.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
WHEN BEAR CAME TO TELL HIM THAT GINNY'S BODY HAD been found raped and dismembered in a creek six miles from his house, that her remains had required three biohazard bags to depart the scene, that they were currently sprawled on a pathologist's slab awaiting further probing, Tim's first reaction was not what he would have expected of himself. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Exciting and thoughtful Jan. 22 2004
When his seven year-old daughter is killed, U.S. Deputy Marshal Tim Rackley's life comes apart. The local police arrange a fake suicide for the quickly caught child-molester but Tim decides to let justice run its course. The man is clearly guilty and Tim believes that the law and justice coincide. But in this case, a terrible botch in procedures sets the man free and Tim has to decide what to make of his life--as his marriage unravels. Out of the blue, a group approaches him--they are all victims of similar breakdowns in the justice system. They've set up a Commission that intends to redress justice failure and are looking for a point man--an executioner. Tim is their choice but can he turn his back on a lifetime of beliefs? The bait is almost impossible to turn down--they promise the full evidence on his daughter's case.
THE KILL CLAUSE addresses a common perception in America--that our justice system gives too much protection for criminals and too little to the victims and to society. For many, the idea of retribution is attractive and the Commission makes all of these arguments to Tim. That their arguments are flawed isn't really the point and author Gregg Hurwitz knows it.
Hurwitz solid and fast-paced action--both in the U.S. Marshal scene where Tim shoots several badguys and in the Commission scenes where Tim must confront some of the deadliest killers on the planet while on the run from the police himself. The depiction of Tim's marriage breaking down was moving and troubling as two people in love stand by helpless to do anything to prevent it.
Although the novel was mostly effective and compelling, at times Hurwitz's beliefs were presented in almost lecture form. The bar scene with the frustrated defense attorneys came off that way for me.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Are You Kidding? Jan. 15 2004
The Kill Clause revolves around a premise so ridiculous and badly thought-out that you can never truly enjoy the narrative, or any single part of the book for that matter. And that's a shame, because Greg Hurwitz really has a great way with words. His writing is premise and very enticing; he's got a way with words that always makes you feel like reading on. It's too bad his talents were completely waisted on this book.
When Tim Rackley's young daughter is raped and murdered, the man thinks his life is over. At the trial, the murderer is released on a technicality. And then, he quits his job after being accused of having commited an offence while apprehending a murder suspect. That's when he is contatcted by The Commission, an organization composed of five men and one women who have all been mistreated by the judicial system at one point or another in theirl lives.
They have decided to take justice in their own hands. They will seek men who found a way to escape the system and kill them themselves. And they want Tim to be their prime hitman.
This is the kind of stuff you only read in books (or see in films). You cannot believe a single moment of this book. The fact alone that Tim accepts the Commission's proposition is ridiculous enough; in the beginning, when given the chance to excute his daughter's killer, he refuses because he knows better. It's hard to think that a man who is able to do such a thing would then turn around and become the very kind of monster he's been fighting all his life. As a matter of fact, all the characters are so badly sketched out that they all blend into one big incoherent mess. These characters have no real conviction, no real purpose.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A White-Knuckle Thriller Nov. 9 2003
In a compellingly emotional opening to the book, Tim and Andrea Rackley are faced with the news that their 7-year-old daughter has been horrifically murdered. Their heartbreaking grief and despair is captured in a few powerful pages and gives us the motivation that drives Tim for the rest of the book. To add to their misery, the man who committed the murder is allowed to walk free thanks to a loophole in the legal system.
As a highly trained Special Forces officer turned Deputy Marshall, Tim has the power and the opportunity to exact any form of revenge he chooses on his daughter's murderer, but refrains from doing so when he learns that an accomplice may have been involved. Meanwhile, his marriage is being ripped apart as Tim and Andrea try to come to terms with the loss of their daughter. Just when it looks as though the marriage is beyond salvation and after he quits his job, he is approached by a man offering him a chance at some measure of revenge, luring him in with the possibility that he will also get a shot of finding the mysterious accomplice.
Essentially, what Tim is asked to do is join a group of vigilantes, calling themselves The Commission, who are aiming to serve their own justice on criminals who they consider have escaped penalty due to shortcomings in the legal system. Of course, Tim accepts and the action takes off from there as candidates are assessed and their fate is decided, with the penalty to be meted out by Tim.
This is a tremendously fast-paced book that highlights the way in which severe emotional situations can skew the judgement of even the most level-headed thinkers. I had a great time reading this book, finding it both thought provoking and white-knuckle thrilling.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Not What I Expected
After reading all of the highly positive reviews listed here, I expected a fast paced, thrilling read. What I got was the complete opposite. Read more
Published on Dec 19 2003 by A. Vegan
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful Emotions Impact Values
U.S. Marshall Tim Rackley has his values and sanity challenged when his 7 y.o. daughter is viciously raped and murdered by a man who is later released on a technicality. Read more
Published on Dec 7 2003 by Tim Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars Form and Function: A Literary Example
Not being a reader of crime novels (unless the Hannibal Lecter series included in that genre)I came to this book with some resistance. Read more
Published on Oct. 29 2003 by Grady Harp
5.0 out of 5 stars Far above and beyond the usual vigilante thriller!
As others have already seen to it, I won't rehash the major plot points of the book. To summarize: Deputy U.S. Read more
Published on Oct. 17 2003 by Don Guthrie
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a surprise ending.
Sorry folks. I can't whole-heartedly endorse this book as everyone else has. I am scrupulous about reading cover to cover. Read more
Published on Oct. 7 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Hurwitz is back on track!
I read Gregg Hurwitz's first book The Tower a few years ago and absolutely loved it. I impatiently waited for his follow up. Read more
Published on Sept. 17 2003 by John Daley
5.0 out of 5 stars From Start to Finish - A Winner
The Kill Clause is about that dirty little thought some of us have when some one does something really bad to you or others and then gets away with it through a quirk of fate, a... Read more
Published on Sept. 16 2003 by John R. Linnell
4.0 out of 5 stars This fine novel will keep you awake and thinking
THE KILL CLAUSE begins in the midst of a tragedy, perhaps the worst personal tragedy the mind can comprehend. Read more
Published on Sept. 12 2003 by Bookreporter
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read
An excellent work of fiction. This book will keep you interested page after page. The characters are so well written you will be certain you know them from somewhere. Read more
Published on Sept. 9 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping and compelling, you won't be able to put this down!
Not usually given to superlatives, let me start this review by stating that Gregg Hurwitz' 4th novel, "The Kill Clause" is the best book that I've read in the past year! Read more
Published on Sept. 6 2003 by coachtim
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