The Rule of Law features a San Francisco sanctuary case.

“After you murder someone, life is never the same.” So begins The Rule of Law, the 18th entry in John Lescroart‘s consistently suspenseful series of  mystery novels featuring San Francisco criminal defense attorney Dismas Hardy. And it’s not long before we learn that the killer in question is the city’s newly elected District Attorney, Ron Jameson. Jameson had defeated Dismas’ former partner and friend, Wes Farrell, in a nasty election campaign. Which promises to put Dismas on the wrong side of the law if he’s ever forced to go up against Jameson in court. And, of course, we know that’s exactly what will happen.

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

The action revolves around a San Francisco sanctuary case

Two high-profile cases figure in this story. In a San Francisco sanctuary case, Dismas volunteers to defend an undocumented Mexican-American woman, a murder suspect. She was alleged to have killed the human trafficker who had brought her to San Francisco to work as a prostitute. And because Dismas is now working to oppose Ron Jameson in the sanctuary case, the DA assigns his investigator to dig up evidence that Dismas and his friend Abe Glitsky were both involved in the Dockside Massacre. That case, long since closed, involved a bloody shootout on the San Francisco docks several years earlier (and, in truth, both men had been among the shooters). Clearly, this time around Dismas is risking his career and possibly even his freedom.

The Rule of Law (Dismas Hardy #18) by John Lescroart (2019) 337 pages ★★★★☆

Familiar characters abound

Most of the series’ recurring characters feature prominently in The Rule of Law: Dismas’ wife, Frannie; his best friend, former SFPD homicide lieutenant Abe Glitsky; Dismas’ former partners, Wes Farrell and Gina Roake; Glitsky’s wife, Freya, who was Farrell’s long-time secretary; and Dismas’ own “long-suffering secretary,” Phyllis. Dismas and Frannie’s adult children, Rebecca (“the Beck”) and Vincent, make cameo appearances. Investigator Wyatt Hunt is missing in action.

The Rule of Law reflects Lescroart’s signature strengths: appealing, three-dimensional characters; a deep understanding of life in San Francisco; and flawless plotting that makes the suspense excruciating. The prominence of the San Francisco sanctuary case at the heart of this story adds timeliness and anchors the book in one of the hottest controversies in American society today.

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