Blog Tour Book Review

The Murder Rule by Dervla McTiernan

Publisher: HarperCollins

No one is innocent in this story.

First Rule: Make them like you.

Second Rule: Make them need you.

Third Rule: Make them pay.

They think I’m a young, idealistic law student, that I’m passionate about reforming a corrupt and brutal system.

They think I’m working hard to impress them.

They think I’m here to save an innocent man on death row.

They’re wrong. I’m going to bury him.


I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for The Murder Rule by Dervla McTiernan today. This is a quick and engaging read with an intriguing mystery to unravel.  

Our main protagonist is Hannah Rokeby and the way that this character is introduced will immediately make you sit up and take notice.  We see her initially through an email exchange with Professor Robert Parekh.  Rob heads up the Innocence Project which seeks to overturn wrongful convictions which might include death row inmates.  The email exchange between Hannah and Rob, while brief, immediately shows Hannah to be a determined individual – she knows what she wants and is prepared to go to extreme lengths to get it, unafraid to hint at blackmail in her emails to ensure that she’s taken seriously.  She doesn’t allow moral or ethical concerns to hold her back, and I did initially wonder if she might be a sociopath, although with further reading I did revise this judgement.  

While told mostly from Hannah’s perspective, we also see excerpts from her mother’s diary which gradual reveal Hannah’s motivation to work on the Innocence Project.  The diary tells of a tragedy from several years earlier and now the author of that tragedy – Michael Dandridge – may be freed if the work of the Project goes to plan.  Hannah’s motivation is purely personal as she seeks revenge for what happened to her mother, Laura, and she is determined to make sure that Michael does not go free.  He may be imprisoned for a different crime to the one he committed against Laura, but Hannah will be satisfied to see him suffer whatever the charge. 

Hannah is incredibly ruthless throughout the novel and firmly believes that the end justifies the means – she is prepared to do whatever it takes to achieve the outcome that she desires and that she believes is right.  I would normally say that I admire her perseverance, but if I’m honest I find very little to commend about Hannah.  Utterly determined, she feels no qualms in sabotaging others to get what she wants.  Those on the Project don’t see this, however. To them, she comes across as a diligent and hard-working student, one who is prepared to put in the hours to get the job done and who picks up the work quickly.  She is quick to adapt and thinks about things in a different way to most.  She seems like an asset to the team and is quickly put on the Dandridge case when one of the team leaves suddenly, due in no small part to Hannah’s machinations.

Michael Dandridge’s case is fascinating, and I like the way in which the investigation unfolds.  The crime he’s accused of and imprisoned for is some ten years old, and so it’s a case of seeking out witnesses from that time and going over the original interview transcripts, witness testimonies and the details from the trial itself.  The novel moves at a fast pace and goes in some unexpected directions as the team begin to find holes in the original prosecution and start to uncover the truth of what happened.  I did find it a little odd that these young students are allowed to go out unsupervised although that may well be how it works.  I can see how their input is important, both in terms of doing some of the legwork as well as for their own education, but to let them run around without a supervisor seems a bit of a stretch to me – it’s not as though a man’s life is at stake or anything.

Of course, it wouldn’t be much of a novel if everything was as straightforward as the blurb suggests, and I like the way in which the plot unfolds as we start to understand more about Hannah and the case the team are focussed on.  I have to admit that while I enjoyed the majority of the novel, I did find the ending a little implausible.  It ties everything up nicely but did require the suspension of disbelief on my part although overall The Murder Rule is an enjoyable read.   

The Murder Rule is published by HarperCollins and is available now in hardback, digital, and audio formats. Huge thanks to the publisher and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for the review copy and the opportunity to take part in the blog tour.

Disclaimer – I received a copy of this novel from the publisher. This has in no way influenced my review.


About the Author

Internationally bestselling and critically acclaimed writer Dervla McTiernan burst onto the writing scene with The Ruin, her crime debut set in Ireland. The Ruin is the first in the detective Cormac Reilly series and has been published in the United States, the UK and Ireland and in New Zealand and Australia, where it was a top ten bestseller.

Dervla spent twelve years working as a lawyer. Following the global financial crisis, she moved to Australia and turned her hand to writing. An avid fan of crime and detective novels from childhood, Dervla wrote a short story, The Roommate, which was shortlisted for the Sisters in Crime Scarlet Stiletto Competition. She went on to write The Ruin, and a string of other bestsellers. Dervla is a member of the Sisters in Crime and Crime Writers Association, and lives in Perth, Australia, with her husband and two children.


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