Sunday, June 21, 2009

"Wrongful Death"

Robert Dugoni is the New York Times bestselling author of The Jury Master and Damage Control.

He applied the “Page 69 Test” to his latest novel, Wrongful Death, and reported the following:
Wow, quite a task, and a bit scary, to ask a writer to look at a single page from his novel and decide whether it is indicative of the novel’s theme. It fits rather nicely with the writing mantra that every scene in a novel should move the story forward or be left on the cutting room floor. I must admit to some apprehension as I opened my latest novel, Wrongful Death, and began to read page 69. Then again, I’m probably obsessive compulsive and even this is a test I don’t want to fail.

So, at page 69, protagonist David Sloane, the attorney who does not lose, is in the midst of investigating a case he is beginning to believe he cannot possibly win. Sloane has been tasked with suing the U.S. Government and the U.S. Military in the death of Washington National Guardsman, James Ford. But to do this, Sloane must get past The Feres Doctrine, a huge legal hurdle that prevents soldiers, or the family of soldiers, from suing the government or the military for injuries or deaths incurred incident to the soldier’s service. The gray area of that law is, of course, incident to the soldier’s service. The term has been interpreted incredibly broadly, and Sloane realizes that to show that Ford’s death was not incident to his service he must first find out what happened on the infamous night that Ford died. This quest takes Sloane to a meeting with Ford’s commanding officer on that fateful mission, Captain Robert Kessler. Kessler himself lost the use of both his legs on that mission and is now working for Argus International, a chemical company that has just received a mass defense contract in Iraq and employs its own private military force to protect its employees. As Sloane enters Kessler’s office Kessler is in the midst of evaluating a training exercise being carried out by members of Argus International’s security team in a mock Iraqi village.

Evaluating then, page 69 mentions Sloane, the protagonist, Jenkins, his most noteworthy sidekick and Kessler, a central figure in the story. It also mentions Iraq and the fact that Argus International, also a central player in the novel, employs its own private military force. Enough, I think, for any reader to wonder, “What has David Sloane got himself into?”
Read an excerpt from Wrongful Death, and learn more about the book and author at Robert Dugoni's website and blog.

Visit the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue