Dead Hand Control by Tim Stutler

Dead Hand Control by Tim Stutler Purchase:

    The story is about ambition, angst and immortality — themes close to the hearts of most of us in modern society.

    After a turbulent childhood, Russell White vows to control his destiny—and build a lasting legacy. The willful working-class youth graduates from a top law school, then joins a preeminent California firm. His life seems perfect.

    But the same desires and drive that bred White’s success also conspire to destroy him. His aggressive style spawns dangers to his home. As White’s world spirals out of his control, he becomes consumed with safeguarding his young family. The full measure of his obsession emerges when a tragedy robs his power to personally continue protecting it.

    Then foes mysteriously start disappearing and even dying. White’s plan to control his family’s future appears successful—until a disastrous misstep imperils his son’s life. No amount of meticulous planning can help; only a miracle will save the boy.

    Review by Donald F. Shanahan:

    Tim Stutler
    Tim Stutler

    I cannot recall the last time I enjoyed a novel as much as this one. This mystery/thriller/action-filled/human interest tale, which is set in the San Diego legal community, moves effortlessly through each episode leaving the reader itching to discover what the next page has to offer.

    Russell White, a young attorney, leads us through hard-ball law practice, gun-filled drama, tribulations of a handicapped son, interpersonal relationships, and his own desperate fight for survival. All of these developments coalesce in the final chapters bringing together personalities and particulars from the very first pages of the book. Use of the word “spell binding” cannot be under utilized in describing this book.

    The characters are so well developed and the settings, events, and dialogues paint such a vivid picture that one visualizes the story rather than simply reading words. While reading the book I felt like I was an invisible observer actually physically on the scene. I anxiously await the author’s next production.

    Review by Sanuel W. Bettwy:

    I hesitate to call this the best novel I’ve read by a first-time author; that would do it a great injustice. Dead Hand Control is one of the best contemporary novels I’ve read — period. From page one, I was gripped by a master story-teller’s wit, imagination and insight into the human predicament.

    The story is about ambition, angst and immortality — themes close to the hearts of most of us in modern society. Though I wouldn’t describe it as epic, Dead Hand Control brings full circle the life of its main character, Russell White, moving from his youthful bloom through his prime, decline and, ultimately, life-shattering tragedy. The story begins in free-spirited Berkeley, California, where White is a law student.

    The product of a blue-collar family, he hungers to make it in the elite bar. He has the talent and drive to reach his goal. But White is also a flawed and very human character. After landing a position with a top San Diego firm, he is confronted by temptations and moral dilemmas that might topple a much stronger man.

    He finds financial success is no longer enough; he wants to build a legacy. In his quest to have it all, White makes choices that lock his young wife and son on an enthralling roller coaster ride, which White is powerless to stop. He becomes obsessed with protecting them, but he never realizes until very late that his own actions are creating the greatest threats.

    In Dead Hand Control, author Tim Stutler has crafted a work that won’t stay closed on the night table. Bedtime readers with full-time jobs (like me) will find themselves staying up long after they should be asleep (like me). Several times after promising myself to close the book at the end of a chapter, I was compelled to keep reading. Besides a facility with story-telling, Stutler’s strength is his ability to create realistic characters the reader actually cares about.

    I found myself so attached to Russell White’s family that once or twice I literally held my breath when they were at risk. I was most moved by the courage and vulnerability of White’s disabled son, Graham, as he struggled throughout the last two parts of the book (which is in three parts) to understand his place in the strange world created by his ambitious father.

    I also had to laugh out loud at the predicaments the characters found themselves in — including one of the oddest but most entertaining sex scenes I have ever encountered, featuring a Jack Russell Terrier with an oversized sex organ.

    Dead Hand Control’s colorful, quirky characters and vivid descriptions remind me of the works of two favorite authors, John Irving (The World According to Garp; The Cider House Rules) and Nicholas Evans (The Horse Whisper; The Loop).

    If you favor their novels, you’ll enjoy Dead Hand Control. Like their novels, this one is disturbing at times, with its share of deviants and miscreants. It is also very funny in places, as well as touching, uplifting and, ultimately, thought-provoking. I mulled over the book’s ironic ending long after I finished reading. I’ll be reading it again, which I can’t say about many other books.