“Premature death”! It’s a phrase that does not tend to excite too much interest when applied to the terminally ill and elderly. “They were going to die anyway,” is the general response. When a highly secret division of a medical insurance company comes to the conclusion that helping their terminally ill clients to die prematurely, would be good for the families and efficient and profitable for the company, a new form of insurance was born. “The Chairman’s Policy” is never put in writing, but Delaware General secretly sells many of these policies every year, assisting their clients to die, when the time is right and reaping the benefits of their “premature death”. When Merritt Royce's, a high level administrator in the Federal Department of Health and Human Services, attention is drawn to Delaware’s unusual profitability in a difficult market, where other companies are struggling to maintain profitability, she begins to ask questions. Questions that the head of Delaware Insurance, Delbert Burroughs does not want asked. The Socratic Contract by D C Russell takes the reader deep inside the bureaucracy of the US Government in a twisting mystery that exposes the sources of power within the government.
In The Socratic Contract, author D C Russell uses this fast-paced, exciting story to ask questions about the morality, or otherwise of assisted suicide as well as highlighting many of the true levers of power in the government. Given the current political state of the United States, I found this story both timely and fascinating. The idea that, in general most of us support the concept of “ending their misery”, for terminally ill patients, very few of us are prepared to talk about it. By wrapping the concept up in a mystery/thriller such as this, I appreciated the thoughts and questions the subject matter raised in me, as a reader. As a thriller, it is an excellent story, well told, with realistic and very believable characters. I particularly liked the Socratic ideal, around which the story is based, that in order to seek truth, one must ask questions with total determination and fearlessness. As a mystery/thriller, it is an exciting and rewarding read, but the additional insights into government and its operations, as well as the thought-provoking topic, lift it above your average thriller. I can highly recommend The Socratic Contract, it is an excellent and fulfilling read. It appears that this is a debut novel and if so, it bodes extremely well for the future of author D C Russell. I will look for more from this author in the future.