Book Review: The Kill Clause, Greg Hurwitz

Book Review: The Kill ClauseTim Rackley Book 1, Greg Hurwitz

The Kill Clause, Greg Hurwitz

Thriller: The Kill ClauseTim Rackley Book 1, Greg Hurwitz


Greg Hurwitz has become one of my favorite thriller writers, particularly through his current “Orphan X” series. Earlier in his career he followed a different character through a series of books. Like his newer books, The Kill Clause is a very complex take on the thriller genre.


The book begins with a nightmare scenario. Tim Rackley and his wife have prepared a surprise birthday party for their young daughter. She will never arrive. The little girl has been kidnapped, sexually assaulted, and dismembered.


Rackley is a U.S. Marshal. When sheriff’s deputies capture the killer, they give him the opportunity to exact revenge. Rackley refuses, but when the case goes to court the killer is released because of an error in reading him his Miranda rights.


Reeling from these events, Rackley is approached by a mysterious man with an offer: attend a meeting and get some options. At this meeting, Rackley is introduced to “The Commission.” This group is comprised of people who have lost a loved one to a violent crime but the killers escaped justice due to a legal loophole of some sort. They have decided to take matters into their own hands, reviewing capital cases where the alleged killers avoided a trial and deciding whether an execution is warranted.


They want Rackley to be their executioner.


The body count is suitably high for a thriller. The tension rises from page to page. Hurwitz is a compelling writer. But this is not simply revenge-porn. Serious questions are raised throughout the book, questions about Constitutional rights, justice versus revenge, and the limits placed on law enforcement in our society. It’s tempting to look at these rare cases where an apparently guilty felon escapes justice on a “technicality” and conclude that our system is broken. Is that actually proof, though, of a broken system?


In the Hebrew scriptures, capital punishment could be enforced by family members of the victim. However, “cities of refuge” were designated to protect people from being killed. If a family member caught the killer outside of one of those cities, the execution could proceed without consequence to the family member. Within the walls of those cities, though, the person was untouchable. Obviously we have found other ways of dealing with these situations, but the need for some kind of escape has been recognized for millennia. It may appeal to our need for vengeance for killers to be killed. That does not make it an acceptable process for a civil society.

The Kill Clause, Greg Hurwitz

Book Review: The Kill ClauseTim Rackley Book 1, Greg Hurwitz

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