Thursday, September 23, 2010

Rick Acker's When the Devil Whistles ~ Reviewed

When the Devil Whistles
Rick Acker
ISBN-13: 978-1426707674
Pub. Date: October 1, 2010

Back Cover:

Allie Whitman is a professional whistleblower with a knack for sniffing out fraud in government contracts. Conner Norman is a gifted litigator and together they form Devil to Pay, Inc., a shell corporation that files lawsuits based on Allie s investigations. They soon find themselves fighting potentially fatal battles in and out of the courtroom, going great lengths to protect secrets that could ruin them both.


The cover and title of Rick Acker’s latest novel, When the Devil Whistles, intrigued me. I wanted to know what that meant, what that sounded like, felt like. To dance on the edge of sin, tottering between doing what was right even if it felt totally wrong and giving in to our innate desire to protect self at all costs.

When The Devil Whistles is your typical conspiracy theory with a romantic twist. A handsome, wealthy, and extremely honest (sounds like an oxymoron, I know.) lawyer is out to save the world from high-dollar fraud and the beautiful Allie Whitman is more than happy to help him. Acting as his whistle blower, she jumps from one job to the next, uncovering Enron-like scams, all the while filling her bank account with proceeds from the lucrative settlements. With every case won, she sends a portion of her cut to her widowed mother. But don’t be fooled, Allie Whitman is far from the doting daughter, scam-breaker she would have us believe. Dodging shameful secrets from the past and present, whatever good lies within her is twisted into a mess of obligation, shame, fear, and confusion. Torn between two loves—her twisted attachment to the meth-addict rock star she lives with and her deep longings for the choir-boy lawyer she works for—she finds her boundary lines beginning to fade.

And what about her righteous lawyer friend, the one out to save the world toting his super-hero cape covered in boy-scout badges? It doesn’t take long for his black and white world to turn various shades of gray, reminding him of the phrase spoken by his grandfather: “You are what you are when the devil whistles.”

Although this novel was jam-packed with conflict—from big-business conspiracies, to threats of nuclear war—it left me with mixed emotions. Rick Acker did a wonderful job of demonstrating what life is like for whistle-blowers, their lawyers, and investigators at the Department of Justice, but at times, probably largely due to my ignorance of such matters, I was confused by the events and descriptions presented. There were also times I found the information to be slightly redundant. And yet, having read When The Devil Whistles, I learned a great deal about company fraud and the resulting government investigations.

It was clear a lot of research went into the making of this book. The reader learns a little bit about warfare, piloting, law, courtroom procedures, whistle-blowing, the Department of Justice, and underwater tracking equipment. Those who like to learn while they read will find this novel very fulfilling. And for the rest of us on the look-out for a pleasant read, it was nice to see a good, clean thriller that was able to accurately portray the darker side of society without dragging the reader through the mud. And I found the discussion questions, explanations, and information Acker provided at the end of the book to be very interesting.

Reviewed by: Jennifer Slattery

Bonus Review:

I was thrilled to receive a review copy of a book with such an intriguing subject. This author weaves a suspenseful and dramatic story I stayed up late reading to find out what happened next. Rick Acker gives us a sneak peek into his day job as a deputy attorney general in California Department of Justices Department. This author takes the reader inside and out of a high profile criminal case. It was captivating and chilling.

Rick says, "I try to put as little fiction as possible into my novels. Partly because I owe it to readers like you to get my facts right...I also enjoy the research, talking to fighter pilots and scientists, … visiting museums and labs.." Not only does Rick Acker pen a suspenseful, legal drama but I learn so much when I read his books. He takes the reader places we normally wouldn't go. I like that.

This book reminded me of the movie Duplicity with Julia Roberts and Clive Owen. I had to pay close attention to the set up in the beginning so I would catch the sting. Rick does the same with this book. He doesn't bog you down with too much but just enough to peek inside this fascinating and scary subject. I had no idea a devil whistle blower existed and how they function in an actual case. This author states he has prosecuted corporate fraud law suits like those described in this novel.

The main female character is Allie, a young smart business woman who knows what she wants and goes after it. Allie says this about her temp work with large companies, "The first day of a new temp job was normally an exciting time. She was a spy setting foot in an energy country for the first time - an undercover Jane Bond who had tricked her way into the heart of a malevolent conspiracy to steal taxpayer dollars. The contrast and between her blah cover and her secret mission - spiced with just a touch of danger - was absolutely delicious."

I enjoyed Allie and felt compassion for the guilt that plagued her. Allie’s partner, Connor, was a brilliant attorney who prided himself on bringing in the bad guy. He says to Allie, "We really do get to fight crime. I love that - I wish everyone took the law as seriously as we do. If you commit a crime, you should pay the price. Every. Single. Time. No excuses, no compromises.

They were a great team until Allie gets caught in a serious situation she can’t share with anyone. She didn't want to hurt Connor. But the hand was dealt. She had no control over what happened next! It’s a deadly game they played especially if the whistle blower is caught. The walls of Allie's perfect little world start to crumble when she starts to take matters into her own hands!

I took this book with me everywhere I went. I was mesmerized by this unusual story, and his wide array of characters! You won't want to miss this author’s new book, it’ will make you want to check out his others!

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent
The Book Club Network

Bonus Review:

Alongside Randy Singer, Rick Acker is my favourite writer of legal thrillers and he does not disappoint with his latest novel, When the Devil Whistles. This is an intriguing and well paced novel that exposes the difficult and dangerous role professional whistleblowers play in unearthing corruption in companies. Connor Norman is a typical Acker character, decisive and honest yet with a weakness that makes him vulnerable and Allie is a good foil for him, a woman searching for meaning and purpose and so not your typical heroine in a Christian novel. With fascinating insight into the legal implications, excellent suspense and imminent danger, When the Devil Whistles is an engaging and entertaining read. More please, Rick!

Reviewed by: Rel Mollet

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