The Realignment Case by R. J. Dearden (book review).

It has been awhile since a book grabbed me to the point where I found it hard to put down. There are some very good ideas here in ‘The Realignment Case’ by R.J. Dearden and you need to pay attention as the plot twists and turns at a fairly hectic pace. As I was reading the story, I was thinking that this may be the first in a series of books but for reasons I will explain later. The story concerns one Daniel Athley, a somewhat disgraced lawyer who’s now looking for new employment after punching a senior partner’s son. He is contacted by someone from ‘the Department’ called Winter, offering him a new job as a Realignment Counsellor in Geneva. Immediately, Athley accepts the job offer things take off.


I should mention that the whole of chapter 1 depicts the very gruesome murder of Lillian by her estranged boyfriend Victor. We aren’t given very many details of either person at this stage but they do feature quite strongly in the remainder of the book. Chapter 1 also provides the event that is being considered by The Department of Last Justice. This shadowy organisation is guardian and operator of the KASSI machine invented by Dr Dieter Griem and Major Ron Dexter, DSC. The KASSI machine allows the operator to view past events and more importantly to make small changes at the molecular level to inanimate objects in the past. By carefully selecting when and where to make these changes the timeline can be altered.

The inventors of the KASSI machine devised 25 principles to govern how and when the machine was to be used to intervene in past events. Apart from Chapter 1 each chapter starts with one of Griem & Dexter’s principles. The important point to understand the context of the story is ‘Only those individuals excelling in a field benefitting the progress of humanity’s condition are likely to qualify for Realignment.’ Realignment in this case means changing the timeline to prevent the individual from being killed or suffering a debilitating accident which impacts their future contribution.

It seems Lillian, killed off in chapter 1, may be eligible but it’s the role of the Court of Final Correction to determine if she is worthy. The court operates under the 25 KASSI principles with a presiding judge, a jury and legal teams arguing for and against the realignment. Athley’s new job is as Clerk on team Contrachange, arguing against the realignment. The dead must stay dead as his boss Winter puts it. He also points out that this makes Athley one of the bad guys.

The main thrust of the story is the court case but there are subtle sub-plots as each major character seems to have at least one skeleton in the closet. It also seems that each side is quite prepared to bend the rules to try and gain an advantage to win the case. The reward for the team who wins is, of course, money and professional pride. Athley’s mentor Winter has had a running streak for the Contrachange team preventing several realignments from happening. This has provided a period of stability because if realignment does take place it has implications for the staff of the Department due to the change in the timeline. This could be very confusing but our friend the author Dearden keeps it simple and clear.

As I mentioned earlier, the story moves on at quite a pace and does keep you hooked. While I thought (hoped) that this might be the start of a series I can’t ignore the fact that any successful appeal resulting in realignment alters the timeline. Future events such as the court case will not happen. I’m not sure how you can maintain central characters in the Department in this scenario. However, ‘The Realignment Case’ is a terrific novel placing time manipulation in the dock with morals being scrutinised or ignored if it’s your own and you are on the legal team. There’s yet one more surprising twist as the story reaches the conclusion. This nicely brings together the loose threads and quirks in the previous chapters.

I think this is a real winner and strongly recommend it.

Andy Whitaker

February 2015

(pub: Roundfire Books. 366 page kindle ebook. Price: Kindle edition ASIN: B00TT5VYPM £ 6.23 (UK). Price: Paperback: £10.38 (UK).  ISBN: 978-1-78279-699-2)

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