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Half a sequel only

The Rule of Nine
The Rule of Nine
By Steve Martini

William Morrow: 2010

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This review first appeared in Turbula in June 2010.

Steve Martini's "The Rule of Nine" isn't a full sequel to last year's "Guardian of Lies" so much as it is the first half of that sequel.

Yes, it picks up where "Guardian" left off – San Diego attorney Paul Madriani is still trying to avoid the clutches of Mexican hitman Liquida following a failed nuclear attack on Coronado.

But only half the loose ends get tied up in "The Rule of Nine," leaving the reader with a distinct lack of closure.

The narrative is consistent with Martini's previous work: crisp descriptions, natural dialogue, solid characters. And if the story line is sometimes a bit of a stretch, compared to "Guardian" it's not all that far of a reach.

A stolen airliner and a mysterious new business partner of Liquida's both draw Madriani and the nation's capital into further danger, but the ending isn't so much a cliffhanger as an introduction to the first chapter of the next book in the Madriani series.

We get more of Madriani's investigator, Herman, and less of his law firm partner, Harry, than in previous novels. There's also a new love interest for Madriani, a female lawyer who is also involved in one of those loose ends.

It all adds up to a book that moves along so quickly, you're at the end when you feel you should still be in the middle.

For a man who makes his living selling us his books, that's undoubtedly a good thing. It's just going to be a long year waiting for Martini's next novel.