Wednesday, November 17, 2010

When the Devil Whistles by Rick Acker

book cover

When the Devil Whistles
by Rick Acker

ISBN-13: 978-1-4267-0767-4
Trade Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Released: Oct. 2010

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, my take:
Allie Whitman, a temp-for-hire accountant and professional whistleblower, excels at finding and exposing corporations that over-charge on government contracts. Her lawyer and friend, Connor Norman, keeps her identity a secret while helping her rake in the money that finances Allie's opulent lifestyle.

But when she goes to work at a new corporation, the tables are suddenly turned. The corporation figures out that she's the whistleblower behind Devil to Pay. They threaten to expose her to all those corporations that hate her unless she takes down their competition--and that may mean planting false evidence. Then Allie's live-in rock-star boyfriend sells drugs to a teen at a concert, the teen dies, and Allie's worried she'll go to jail, too, if she turns her boyfriend in.

Allie's afraid to ask Connor for help since he glories in making criminals pay for their crimes. Does that mean her, too? There seems to be only one option that will keep her safe, but there's more at risk than even Allie knows.

My Review:
When the Devil Whistles is a legal thriller that also works in some military suspense. It's fast-paced and keeps the reader guessing as to how everything will work out. The suspense was created by possible physical danger to the various characters as well as curiosity about the various decisions they will make and how it will all play out. The characters were complex and dealt with realistic problems (though--specifically--not ones most people face). The vivid details of the job and setting brought the story alive in my imagination.

For those who care, Allie sometimes drank to excess and lived with her boyfriend. (It's implied they have sex.) She knew he used meth and he knew she disapproved, but she didn't take a strong stand on it until worried for her own neck. But she found some healing and made some hard choices after seeing where the easy ones got her, and I liked who she was by the end.

There was no bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this suspenseful and intriguing novel.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter One
Connor Norman loved a good fireworks show. He especially liked the ones that took place once or twice a year in the conference rooms at the California Department of Justice. Some executive or general counsel whose company was under investigation would come in for a witness interview, would lie, and would get caught. Then Deputy Attorney General Max Volusca would go off and the show would start. DAG Volusca did not suffer liars gladly. Fools he would tolerate, often longer than Connor. But if Max felt he was being misled, he soon lived up to his nickname, "Max Volume."

Connor didn’t mind it when Max got loud. In fact, he liked the DAG’s outbursts because they usually rattled whoever was sitting across the table from him. And that usually meant more money for Connor and his qui tam clients. A qui tam plaintiff is a whistleblower who sues on behalf of the government and gets a cut (generally 15-20 percent) of whatever the government recovers. Better yet, if the Department of Justice likes a case, it takes on the lion’s share of the work. Envious defense counsel sometimes complained to Connor that he wasn’t really litigating these cases, just riding a gravy train driven by DOJ. Though Connor never told opposing lawyers, the real fun wasn’t the train ride so much as tying corporate criminals to the tracks in front of the engine.

Today, Connor’s client was Devil to Pay, Inc., a shell company he had created to bring qui tam lawsuits while protecting the identity of its owner. Most contractors assumed that Connor was the force behind Devil to Pay and that he recruited new whistleblowers for every lawsuit. In fact, all those suits were the work of a single woman: a professional whistleblower named Allie Whitman.

The corners of Connor’s mouth twitched. Allie was probably the most widely hated and feared woman in California’s government contracting industry, even though no one knew she existed.

The person who probably hated Allie most at this particular moment was Hiram Hamilton, the CEO of Hamilton Construction. He was sitting at a cheap wood table in conference room 11436 at the San Francisco office of the California Department of Justice, where he was being grilled by Max Volusca.

Read more from chapter one.


Man of la Books said...

This sounds like a very interesting book. I'm sure it's a fascinating read in a society where honesty and success are punished while failure and corruption are rewarded.

Genre Reviewer said...

Hey, I'm glad you dropped by. Yes, it was an interesting book. :)

Rick Acker said...

Thanks for the review, Debbie! FYI, WHEN THE DEVIL WHISTLES is available FREE on Amazon this week:


Rick Acker

Genre Reviewer said...

Rick, thanks for stopping by and for the information. I twittered about the free Kindle edition so that more people would know about this opportunity.