When the Devil Whistles

When the Devil Whistles

3.8 95
by Rick Acker

View All Available Formats & Editions

“I didn’t have a choice. I didn’t.” That’s what Allie Whitman tells herself every night as she lies awake. Sometimes she even believes it. But mostly she knows deep down that her inability to make a hard choice has put millions of lives at risk, including her own. Now the only one who can help her is her lawyer, Connor Norman.


“I didn’t have a choice. I didn’t.” That’s what Allie Whitman tells herself every night as she lies awake. Sometimes she even believes it. But mostly she knows deep down that her inability to make a hard choice has put millions of lives at risk, including her own. Now the only one who can help her is her lawyer, Connor Norman. Unfortunately, Allie’s actions have destroyed Connor’s trust in her—and may destroy much, much more.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
CF suspense author Acker (Blood Brothers; Dead Man's Rule) takes readers deep into the world of corporate whistle-blowers. Investigator Allie Whitman has paired up with litigator Connor Norman to form Devil to Pay, Inc., a corporation that sues those who are defrauding on government contracts. It is a dangerous business, one that forces the protagonists to make decisions that have potentially devastating consequences. VERDICT This intense story with multiple plot twists will appeal to CF suspense fans who enjoy a page-turner with suggestions of romance.

Product Details

Center Point Large Print
Publication date:
Edition description:
Large Print Edition
Product dimensions:
5.78(w) x 8.49(h) x 1.30(d)

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

When The Devil Whistles

By Rick Acker

Abingdon Press

Copyright © 2010 The United Methodist Publishing House
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4267-0767-4

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.

Connor sat next to Volusca and let him do all the talking. While the DAG asked questions, Connor watched Hamilton and the brace of lawyers who flanked him. One of the lawyers was Joe Johnston, Hamilton Construction's general counsel. The other was Carlos Alvarez, a high-priced defense lawyer with a reputation for playing hardball with the government.

Hiram Hamilton was a gregarious, open-faced man of about fifty-five who smiled a lot when he spoke. But Connor suspected those traits were the result of practice rather than character, and that raised warning flags. In his experience, men who tried to appear candid rarely were.

"So, how many cost-plus state contracts has your company bid on over the past ten years, Mr. Hamilton?" Max asked.

"I don't remember—at least two dozen."

When the Devil Whistles

"And you do know what cost-plus means, right?"

"Sure," Hamilton said with a nod and a genial smile. "It means the contract price is my cost plus an agreed percentage of profit."

"Has your company ever inflated its costs in order to get a higher profit percentage than your contract allows?"

"No, of course not," the witness replied without letting his smile waver.

Max stared at him in silence for several seconds. "Do you or do you not realize that you're under oath, Mr. Hamilton?"

Alvarez grimaced and stirred. "Look, Max, we're trying to be cooperative and give you the information you want. There's no reason to badger my client."

Max kept his eyes on Hamilton. "Are you trying to be cooperative, Mr. Hamilton?"

"I ... uh, sure."

"And provide the information requested in the state's subpoena?"

"Absolutely. We gave you everything you asked for."

Here we go. Connor glanced at Max. The DAG's face had darkened and his bull neck swelled against the collar of his white dress shirt.

"Then WHY didn't you give me these?" Max demanded, his voice rising several decibels as he thrust a stack of photocopied documents at the witness.

Hamilton's grin vanished and his eyes widened. "I, I ... I'm not sure what these are."

"Really? Take a good look at them." Max leaned forward and pointed at the stack with an accusatory finger.

Hamilton flipped through the documents in silence for half a minute as Alvarez engaged in a staring contest with Max. Hamilton looked up again. "These look like the invoices backing up our costs for the work on the DMV building in Oakland," he said with strained nonchalance. "We gave you all of these already."

"No, you gave me FAKE invoices for that project! Invoices that had been doctored to make the numbers in them match the numbers you reported to the state," Max shot back. "These are the REAL invoices."

Alvarez put a hand on his client's arm to signal him not to respond. "I object to this harassment, and I'm not going to let it go on any longer. We came here in good faith to answer questions, not listen to you shout at Mr. Hamilton. If you can't behave civilly, we're leaving."

"Before you do, make sure to write down Mr. Hamilton's shirt and pants size."

"What? Why?"

"So we can have an orange jumpsuit waiting for him the next time we meet."

"This is outrageous!" Alvarez stood up and his client and the company's general counsel followed suit. Max also hefted his sizable bulk upright, his face now beet red. Connor stayed seated, letting his body language say that he was staying out of the fight. At some point, he might need to play "good cop," and it didn't hurt to start telegraphing his reasonableness now.

"It's outrageous alright!" Max rejoined, his voice now at near-bullhorn level. "This is a civil investigation right now, but if you and your client aren't real careful, there's going to be a criminal referral. Giving false evidence during an investigation by the Attorney General is a felony under Penal Code section 132."

Connor fought back the urge to smile as his ears rang. Max Volusca only hauled out section 132 when he was really mad. It was the legal equivalent of the old belt Connor's father had kept in the back of the hall closet to threaten particularly incorrigible sons. He almost never used it, but its mere appearance worked wonders of attitude adjustment.

Alvarez jammed papers into his briefcase. "I'm not going to dignify that with a response!"

Max put his fists on the table and leaned forward. "Yeah, well I'm going to dignify it with an indictment!"

Hamilton and his lawyers packed in frosty silence for half a minute. Then Alvarez grabbed the stack of photocopied invoices.

"What do you think you're doing?" demanded the DAG.

"These are company property," said Alvarez as he shoved the invoices into his briefcase. "And I am reclaiming them."

"No they aren't, and no you're not!"

Alvarez ignored Max and walked toward the door, trailed by Hamilton and Johnston. Max pushed a button on the speakerphone on the conference room table. "Ruby, there are three men leaving conference room 11436. Ask security to arrest them and search them for stolen state property."

"Yes, Mr. Volusca," said the receptionist in a bored voice.

Hamilton and his lawyers stopped in the conference room doorway. "You can't be serious," said Alvarez.

"Go downstairs and find out," said the DAG. "I hope you brought your toothbrushes."

Alvarez's face turned the same shade of crimson as Max's, but he reached into his briefcase, pulled out the documents, and slammed them down on the conference room table. "You are nothing but a schoolyard bully," he said through clenched teeth.

"No, I am the state of California," Max thundered, "and I hit a lot harder than any bully you ever met! And I promise you that I will absolutely DESTROY you and your client unless I start getting REAL cooperation REAL fast!"

Alvarez opened his mouth, but Johnston spoke first. "Look, let's all take a deep breath and try this again. You've got questions about Hamilton Construction's billing practices and we want to answer them. If there's a problem with the documents, just send us a letter and we'll look into it. You mentioned the Oakland DMV project—were there any other contracts you'd like us to, um, take a second look at?"

"ALL of them!" The DAG turned his glower to the company's general counsel.

"Okay. All right. We'll do that," replied Johnston in the placating let's-fix-this tone Connor had come to expect from GCs caught in a fraud investigation. "Did you have any more questions for Mr. Hamilton? He is the company CEO and doesn't spend much time with the accounting paperwork, so I don't think he'll be able to help you much on this point. Was there anything else you'd like to ask him about?"

"Yes," said the DAG in a calmer tone, "but let's wait until this document problem has been solved. I also strongly suggest that you talk to your client about the importance of being completely candid in his dealings with DOJ. I wasn't kidding about the criminal referral."

"I understand." Johnston nodded as he spoke. "Hopefully once we've got this document issue nailed down, there won't be any need to discuss referrals."

Hiram Hamilton and his lawyers packed up and left a few minutes later. Hamilton had begun to recover his composure and had forced his habitual smile back onto his face. But large rings of sweat adorned each armpit of his suit coat and he wiped his palms on his pants at least once a minute.

Once they were alone, Max stretched, sat down, and turned to Connor. "So, what did you think?"

"I was watching Hamilton, and he didn't look angry or surprised when you brought up orange jumpsuits. He just turned pale. And when you put that stack of invoices in front of him, I got the impression that he was shocked to see them but not shocked by your description of what was in them."

Max nodded. "He was in on it. I went into this thinking we might be looking at some low-level guy trying to boost his revenue numbers by ripping off the government on one or two contracts. But if the CEO is in the loop, it goes way beyond that."

Connor nodded. "And they're desperate to know what we know. First, Alvarez tried to walk out of here with your documents. Then Johnston tried to get you to give him a list of the projects you're looking at."

Max leaned back in his chair and stroked his jowls. "Good point. That's another reason to think this isn't limited to the Oakland DMV building. Plus, this guy Hamilton really ticks me off—sitting there grinning and making noises about how cooperative he's being, and the whole time he's lying through his teeth. I love hammering guys like that."

Connor smiled. "And we're happy to help in any way we can, Max. Any way at all."


Excerpted from When The Devil Whistles by Rick Acker Copyright © 2010 by The United Methodist Publishing House. Excerpted by permission of Abingdon Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Rick Acker is a Deputy Attorney General in the California Department of Justice. He prosecutes corporate fraud lawsuits like those described in When the Devil Whistles. He has led confidential investigations into a number of large and sensitive cases that made headlines in and out of California. Rick holds law degrees from the University of Oslo and the University of Notre Dame, where he graduated with honors. In addition to his novels, he is a contributing author on two legal treatises published by the American Bar Association. Rick lives with his wife in the San Francisco area. Visit him on the Web at: www.rickacker.com.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

When the Devil Whistles 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 92 reviews.
Janna6 More than 1 year ago
I just finished the most interesting book, "When The Devil Whistles" by Rick Acker. I read his previous book, "Blood Brothers" and just loved it, now with The Devil he has gone to a whole different direction and I like it. He takes us inside the world of whistle blowers who uncover contractors defrauding the government on contracts. They sue the contractors and then the Department of Justice steps in and goes after them and the whistle blower then gets a cut of the settlement. Very interesting and then Rick throws in some possible romance, international espionage, nuclear warheads and things really start to heat up. I love the fact that the characters are not perfect, even the Connor who is the Christian makes mistakes and doesn't always act like he should. Allie makes more than her share of mistakes and there are consequences - lots of them. Rick has a style that is engaging and full of energy - the subject matter was so unique that I couldn't put this book down until I finished. Excellent. Put this one on your list to get when it comes out in October!
DCLOVELL More than 1 year ago
This is the first book I have read by Rick Acker and it is a page turner. It has alot going for it- international intrigue, courtroom drama, romance and Mr. Acker has done alot of research to make sure his fictional title is fact based. If you like mysteries, action with some intrigue thrown in, I would highly recomment this title. Also in the back of the book are some interesting questions about the book as it would relate to real life. Also included in the back are research notes and a short interview with Mr. Acker. I would also like to point out that while this is listed as a Christian fiction book, and it is, it does not "hit you over the head with a Bible." I feel this book can be enjoyed by anyone who likes the genres mentioned above. I look forward to reading more of his books!
RonieKendig More than 1 year ago
Whoa. It's been a very long time since a book riveted me from page one the way Acker's WHEN THE DEVIL WHISTLES did. There are no cardboard characters or flat plots here. Instead, this suspense novel is packed with twists, deep/realistic characters, and a catch-you-by-the-throat-and-never-let-you-go plot! I am being 100% honest when I say that I simply could not read this story fast enough. WHEN THE DEVIL WHISTLES is a wonderful investment of your time that doubles as entertainment (two for one--who can resist?!?!). Acker has officially joined my list of "favorite authors."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. It had all the elements I like: fast paced action, good likeable characters, believable storyline, and no bad language (thank you Rick Acker). There was one small thing I thought was unbelievable in the story and that was the part where Conner comes to the rescue in his P-51. Would anyone really do that? You tell me. This, however, did not detract from the book at all. I would recommend this to readers of all ages.
Fluffyterry More than 1 year ago
Cant wait till another ebook comes out by R Acker. Couldnt put this book down. Would highly recommend this book to anyone.
Dineen More than 1 year ago
I had the pleasure and honor to read an advance copy of Rick's book (thank you, Rick!) and let just say WOW! Rick Acker is definitely an author to watch, and follow. His attention to detail is not only phenomenal, it's riveting. As you read, you think the author had to have experienced all this stuff first hand. Some he had, a lot he researched...obviously well. When the Devil Whistles is a stellar book. The story is so intriguing, I could wait to get time each day to go back and read more of the story. Can't wait to read more books by this very talented author. Next on my list is his previous book, Deadman's Rule.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ok book. Hard to follow at first but if you can get through that it's a decent book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very entertaining novel. I definitely recommend if you are a fan of the spy novel!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The ending was a little too neat but the details and suspense were perfect. Loved all the characters and different motivations they brought to their story. I highly recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book.
eLouise_M_sRay More than 1 year ago
Rick Acker does a good job of drawing you in and keeping you interested. When the Devil Whistles was intriguing. Great Read!
Kellie-Ann Davis More than 1 year ago
I expected a lot more from the book after reading the customer reviews but the characters don't interest me. Great plot idea but I did not connect with it...I have no interest in reading anything else by this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was hard for more to get started but that was because I got really busy with life. After things finally calmed down and I was able to finally pick up my nook and read it, I couldn't put it down. This was a great book. If your looking for suspense, a lil romance, or just an all around good book "When The Devil Whistles" is for you. I will definitely read more from Mr. Acker in the future.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Exciting thriller about an undercover whistleblower getting in way over her head. There's a little courtroom drama, a little romance, a little stealth submarine stuff, and a whole lot of nailbiting danger.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a great book to read. Well written,twists and turns, and no simplistic resolution. Would read other books from the author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This wasn't worth the time. Couln't really get into it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good entertaining book.
blazybaby More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put this one down. Good read.
richardblake More than 1 year ago
Government Fraud, International Intrigue, and Deep Sea Conspiracy Allie Whitman has combined her expertise in accounting and a knack for "sniffing out fraud" in government contracts into a successful and lucrative career as a professional whistleblower. Attorney Conner Norman acts in Allie's behalf as lawyer for Devil to Pay, Inc. a shell corporation that files fraud suits based on Allie's discoveries. Allie's life suddenly begins to fall apart as the results of bad choices and closely held secrets come to light. Conner finds himself in a dilemma as trust, loyalty, professional ethics, and deep inner convictions threaten to endanger his career, his character, and his life. Rick Acker is fast becoming recognized as a fresh voice in the genre of the legal thriller/suspense novel. "When the Devil Whistles" is intense drama and unrelenting tension, with a riveting fast moving plot. Acker is a master at building suspense, conflict, and tension. His intricate plotting and intriguing story line take his carefully defined characters in uncharted waters that are beyond realism, yet believable. Acker is gifted in his ability to create a sense of constant uncertainty and surprise through his intricate plot twists, and unpredictable circumstances. An underlying theme of ethics in business and the consequence from wrong personal choices move the story forward enriching the perceptions of Acker's characters and the driving force behind Conner's motives and actions as they impact the final climatic explosive outcome of "When the Devil Whistles." Acker is well on his way to being identified in the ranks of best selling authors like John Grissom, Scott Turow, and Steve Martini. Discussion questions and author's notes at the conclusion of the book give insight into Rick Acker, his profession, his motivation, and his faith. As reviewed for Midwest Book Review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting characterd and story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I tried to get into it but by chapter 15, I called it quits.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The mystery and suspense in this book was amazing. It constantly kept me guessing and i coupd not put it down. I highly reccomend it...good mystery, nice side story of romance, and nothing explicit.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read. Will be looking for more of Mr. Acker's books.