Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

The Kill Clause

The Kill Clause

4.1 25
by Gregg Hurwitz

See All Formats & Editions

The series that started it all!

A riveting and explosive novel, The Kill Clause is a brilliantly inventive tour de force by a powerful new master of suspense.

Tim Rackley is a dangerous man of honor, a deputy U.S. marshal who is very good at his job—until everything he believes in is shattered by the brutal murder of his own daughter.


The series that started it all!

A riveting and explosive novel, The Kill Clause is a brilliantly inventive tour de force by a powerful new master of suspense.

Tim Rackley is a dangerous man of honor, a deputy U.S. marshal who is very good at his job—until everything he believes in is shattered by the brutal murder of his own daughter.

Betrayed by an imperfect judicial system, Rackley watches helplessly as the killer walks free on a legal technicality. Devastated, furious, and burning with a righteous need for vengeance, he is suddenly forced to explore his own deadly options—a quest that leads him into a shadowy no-man's-land between justice and the law . . . and into the welcoming fold of "the Commission."

A vigilante group made up of people like him—relentless streetwise operators who have each lost a loved one to violent crime—the Commission confronts the failings of a system that sets predators loose to hunt again, cleaning up society's "mistakes" covertly, efficiently, and permanently. But as he is dragged deeper into a deadly morass of hidden agendas and murderous justice, Tim Rackley discovers that playing God is an excruciating and fearsome task. When his new secret life starts coming unwound at an alarming speed, he is suddenly caught in the most terrifying struggle he has ever faced—a desperate battle to save his marriage, his career, his life, his soul . . . and everything left that's worth fighting for.

Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post
[Hurwitz] is a highly inclusive writer. He has done abundant research into U.S. marshals, and he lays out their culture skillfully. He digs deep into Rackley's agonizing break with his wife, and he writes well about violence and the specifics of some terrible crimes … This is an impressive start to what is billed as a new series about Tim Rackley. — Patrick Anderson
Publishers Weekly
A motley crew of ex-cops and fringe characters, who have all lost loved ones and seen the villains walk, are organized into a vigilante hit squad by a media personality who sees this as a good launchpad for his books in this first thriller in a projected series by Hurwitz (Do No Harm; Minutes to Burn). The squad-or the Commission, as it calls itself-chooses as executioner Tim Rackley, a US marshal and former Special Forces muscle who is vulnerable to their offer, having just lost his only child in a gruesome attack ("her remains had required three biohazard bags to depart the scene"). Devastated, Rackley leaves his job and his wife, a county sheriff, to take the assignment, disappearing into the murk of L.A. to begin a series of high-tech hits on high-profile criminals who have slipped through the system's cracks-including the man who, Rackley believes, killed his daughter. But Rackley suspects the Commission of fuzzy logic after one unclear target assessment leads two of the Commission (a murderous pair of bulked-up ex-cop brothers called, none too subtly, the "Mastersons") to go on a rampage, invoking the Commission's "kill clause"-the immediate (and brutal) dissolution of the squad. Caught between his former law enforcement colleagues and the Mastersons' rising bloodlust, Tim must risk one more vigilante act to put justice back in the hands of the courts. The high gore level and farfetched premise give the novel a cartoonish edge, but Hurwitz's deft descriptions of Tim's methods of disappearing, breaking-and-entering, and stealing identities are convincing, and his fast-paced plotting will keep readers riveted. Tim is a promising series hero, with his multitude of skills and conflicted loyalties, and Hurwitz is off to a fine start with this first installment. Major ad/promo; 5-city author tour. (Aug.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
"Michael Crichton's heir apparent," enthuses the publicist, but decide for yourself. After his daughter is murdered and her killer freed on a technicality, U.S. Deputy Marshall Tim Rackley looks for justice by joining forces with others who want the death of a loved one avenged. But his plan backfires, and it looks as if he might end up dead himself. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Lawman father of a murdered child turns vigilante: a near-miss thriller about revenge and redemption. In a gripping opener, the Rackleys-Tim, a US Marshall, Dray a deputy sheriff-receive news of their daughter's murder while they're arranging the seven candles on her surprise birthday cake. Within hours, the Moorpark Police (it's an LA suburb) have a man in custody, semiretarded Roger Kindell, against whom the physical evidence is overwhelming. Kindell confesses, and Dray's deputy sheriff pals offer Tim a collegial opportunity: "I got a throw-down," one of them says helpfully. An emotional basket case, Tim is tempted but finally resists-though later, when Kindell goes free on a technicality, he experiences intense and bitter regret. Enter ex-cop Franklin Dumone, enigmatic harbinger of second chances, with a kind of Faustian bargain: If Tim will join a certain ad hoc group, Kindell could be his again. It's a motley enough bunch, six people who've all been up-close and personal to terrible crimes only to see the perpetrators dodge between the laws. They're called the Commission and see themselves as a highly efficient, totally incorruptible judge and jury dedicated to redressing appalling miscarriages of justice. And they've tapped Tim to be their executioner. Ordinarily, Tim can suss out a vigilante no matter how dissimulating the sheep's clothing, but just now, blinkered by rage and grief, he allows the feral in him to be controlling. His wife doesn't like him for it, and neither does his best friend and partner. In time, Tim himself will see the thing clearly, but by then the die will have been cast. Or will it? A brilliant beginning goes draggy and rhetoric-impeded. Hurwitz (Minutes toBurn, 2001, etc.), wanting to write a novel of ideas that's also a fast-paced thriller, gets hung up between the two, as have many other good writers before him. Agent: Matthew Guma/Arthur Pine Associates
“THE KILL CLAUSE is like a literary Law & Order, without the commercials. Bottom Line: Killer read.”
People Magazine
"THE KILL CLAUSE is like a literary Law & Order, without the commercials. Bottom Line: Killer read."

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sold by:
Sales rank:
File size:
1 MB

Read an Excerpt

The Kill Clause
A Novel

Chapter One

When Bear came to tell him that Ginny's body had been found raped and dismembered in a creek six miles from his house, that her remains had required three biohazard bags to depart the scene, that they were currently sprawled on a pathologist's slab awaiting further probing, Tim's first reaction was not what he would have expected of himself. He went ice cold. There was no grief -- grief, he'd learn, takes perspective, recollection, time to unfurl. There was just the news slapping him, dense and jarring like face pain. And, inexplicably, there was embarrassment, though for whom or what, he was not sure. The heel of his hand lowered, searching out the butt of his Smith & Wesson, which of course he wasn't wearing at home at 6:37 in the evening.

To his right Dray fell to her knees, one hand clutching the door frame, fingers curling between the jamb and hinges as if seeking pain. Beneath the razor edge of blond hair, sweat sparkled on the band of her neck.

For an instant everything was frozen. Rain-heavy February air. The draft guttering the seven candles on the pink-and-white-frosted birthday cake that Judy Hartley held poised for revelation in the living room. Bear's boots, distressingly carrying the crime-scene mud, blotting the aggregate porch, the pebbles of which Tim had meticulously smoothed on his hands and knees last fall with a square trowel.

Bear said, "Maybe you want to sit down." His eyes held the same guilt and attempted empathy Tim himself had used in countless situations, and Tim hated him unjustly for it. The anger dissolved quickly, leaving behind a dizzying emptiness.

The small gathering in the living room, mirroring the dread emanating from the hushed doorway conversation, gave off a breath-held tension. One of the little girls resumed recounting Harry Potter Quidditch rules and was hushed violently. A mother leaned over and blew out the candles Dray had lit in eager anticipation after the knock on the front door.

"I thought you were her," Dray said. "I just finished frosting her ... " Her voice wavered hard.

Hearing her, Tim registered an aching remorse that he'd pressed Bear so hard for details right here at the door. His only way to grasp the information had been to try to contain it in questions and facts, to muscle it into pieces small enough for him to digest. Now that he'd taken it in, he had too much of it. But he'd knocked on enough doors himself -- as had Dray -- to know that it would have been only a matter of time until they'd known it all anyway. Better to wade in fast and steady and brace against the cold, because the chill wasn't going to leave their bones anytime soon, or maybe ever.

"Andrea," he said. His trembling hand felt the air, searching for her shoulder and not finding it. He couldn't move, couldn't so much as turn his head.

Dray bent her head and started to weep. The sound was one Tim had never heard. Inside, one of Ginny's schoolmates matched her crying -- confused, instinctive mimicry.

Bear crouched, both knees cracking, his form broad but huddled on the porch, his nylon raid jacket sweeping low like a cape. The yellow lettering, pale and faded, announced U.S. DEPUTY MARSHAL in case someone cared. "Darlin', hold on there," he said. "Hold on."

His immense hands encircled her biceps -- no small feat -- and drew her in so her face pressed against his chest. Her hands clawed the air, as if afraid to set down on something for fear of what they might do.

He raised his head sheepishly. "We're gonna need you to... "

Tim reached down, stroked his wife's head. "I'll go."

The three-foot tires of Bear's chipped-silver Dodge Ram hiccupped over seams on the roadway, shifting the broken-glass dread in Tim's gut.

Composed of twelve square miles of houses and tree-lined streets about fifty miles northwest of downtown L.A., Moorpark was renowned for little more than the fact that it housed the state's largest concentration of law-enforcement residents. It was a low-rent country club for the straight arrows, a post-shift refuge from the streets of the off-kilter city they probed and fought for most of their waking hours. Moorpark radiated an artificial fifties-TV-show feel—no tattoo parlors, no homeless people, no drive-bys. A Secret Service agent, two FBI families, and a postal inspector lived on Tim and Dray's cul-de-sac. Burglary, in Moorpark, was a zero-growth industry.

Bear stared dead ahead at the yellow reflectors lining the center of the road, each one materializing, then floating downward in the dark-ness. He'd forgone his usual slouch, driving attentively, seeming grateful for something to do.

Tim sifted through the mound of remaining questions and tried to find one to serve as a starting point. "Why did you ... why were you there? Not exactly a federal case."

"Sheriff's department took prints from her hand ... "

From her hand. A separate entity. Not from her. Through his sickening horror, Tim wondered which of the three bags had carried away her hand, her arm, her torso. One of Bear's knuckles was smudged with dried mud.

" ... the face was tough, I guess. Jesus, Rack, I'm sorry." Bear heaved a sigh that bounced off the dash and came back at Tim in the passenger seat. "Anyways, Bill Fowler was in the handling unit. He firmed the ID -- " He stopped, catching himself, then reworded. "He recognized Ginny. Put in a call to me, since he knows how I am with you and Dray."

"Why didn't he do the advise next of kin? He was Dray's first partner out of the academy. He just ate barbecue at our house last month."

The Kill Clause
A Novel
. Copyright © by Gregg Hurwitz. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Gregg Hurwitz is the critically acclaimed author of The Tower, Minutes to Burn, Do No Harm, The Kill Clause, The Program, and Troubleshooter. He holds a B.A. in English and psychology from Harvard University and a master's degree from Trinity College, Oxford University. He lives in Los Angeles.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

Kill Clause 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Upon learning of the rape and dismemberment of his beloved daughter Virginia, US Marshal Tim Rackley went ice cold as if his heart was sucked out of him. He knows nothing will ever be the same. His wife Dray is in shock, but Tim no longer feels except frustration and anger and offers her nothing and doesn¿t seeks her comfort to ease his ire. Realizing the man he believes is the culprit will walk only brings more rage.

The Commission, an encounter group that shares Tim¿s outrage that the system enables killers to walk, recruits the former cop. They do not care about his adjustment to life without Ginny. Instead he becomes one of their hitmen providing vigilante justice to those animals who escaped. However, as the haze clears and he realizes some of his peers are loose cannons like the crazed Mastersons, Tim invokes THE KILL CLAUSE that eliminates his involvement, but first he must take care of rampaging Commission killers hurting anyone in their path.

This is an exciting vigilante thriller that blends a delightful look at Tim the executioner on the job within a comic book Hollywood feel (Bronson¿s Death Wish). Readers will understand Tim¿s reactions and subsequent actions to Ginny¿s horrific murder as he and the Mastersons insure gore and blood flows freely through the veins of the plot. Though not for everyone, Greg Hurwitz purveys an action packed thriller starring a hero seeking justice in all the wrong places.

Harriet Klausner

Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Some authors are so expert that you find yourself becoming the protagonist, facing all of the problems faced by that character. Hurwitz is that good. But, the protagonist in this book faces such deep dispair, such overwhelming problems, that it is difficult some times to pick up the book and continue reading. When you work up the courage to do so it is well worth it. I'm sure I will read every book Gregg Hurwitz has written or will write.
Guest More than 1 year ago
One of the best books I have read in years. I couldn't put it down. I anxiously await Gregg Hurwitz's next books!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Intense plot and emotions of grief. Unique situations. No dull spots. A good read.
KenCady More than 1 year ago
Reading backwards on Gregg Hurwitz novels, I did like this one, but it is my least favorite of the bunch so far. Did he get better as he moved along? I think he did. But, clearly he started from a pretty good place.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this was well written, and I enjoyed the ending, however, there were just too many dead spots for me. I can appreciate the emotion that the author was trying to portray, I just thought it was a bit much considering the books genre.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is easily the best of the Gregg Hurwitz books. While The Tower, also a favorite is a wonderful first book, it was a bit dark and gory. The Kill Clause has a hero who we can enjoy, actually like, as he goes though recovery from the death of his daughter and resultant separation from his wife. Obviously a lot of research went into this project and the plot line is exciting and complicated. Others have shared the plot line, I'll just say it was GREAT!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is Hurwitz's best book yet. After making it through the first, harrowing pages, I could not put this book down. The action is non-stop, yet it is offset by a very interesting character study of a father, and how he copes with loss, grief, revenge and justice. I read this book in two sittings.....and that was only because I had to go to work. A fantastic read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Walter Graham More than 1 year ago
Vulgar, obscene trash!