The Socratic Contract

Fiction - Thriller - Political
366 Pages
Reviewed on 06/29/2018
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers' Favorite

The Socratic Contract by DC Russell is a political thriller set against the backdrop of Washington DC's corporate world, Dover, Melbourne, and Aspen. It’s a tale that explores the intricate nature of the health insurance world and a fraud that has far reaching reverberations. Merritt Royce is an intelligent young woman, determined to create an enviable space for herself in the healthcare insurance industry. She is intelligent and driven, and she works more than the ordinary employee, clocking seventy hours a week, bracing the stress to make a difference as the administration’s policy official for healthcare. But then the discovery of a shady division hidden in a top insurance company puts her in a very delicate position and she quickly finds herself at odds with the most powerful people in DC, and fighting between her career and her conscience. Does she have the courage to take the fight where it belongs?

This is a great story with phenomenal characters, handled by a master storyteller. The first thing that caught my attention in this narrative was the author’s prose; the ability to find the right words for an emotion, to let readers see the depth of the character’s soul through the skillful description of scenes and well-done dialogues. Merritt Royce is a heroine that readers will stick with, a character that reflects a lot of what takes place in the corporate environment. While this is a political thriller, it explores deep areas of love and betrayal, and a conflict that is so powerful it sends shock waves up the echelons of power. Well-paced and emotionally rich, The Socratic Contract is both entertaining and satisfying.

Romuald Dzemo

The Socratic Contract by DC Russell is a political thriller with a great setting, a novel that plunges the reader into the corporate world and explores the tensions that come along with the struggle for power, success, and control. The Socratic Contract was never intended to be something public — a secret tool in the insurance company’s arsenal to handle the impasses of the market, but now someone knows about it, and that is already too much to handle. Can the chairman of Delaware General handle the intelligent insurance analyst and keep things under wraps? Merritt Royce is a thirty-four-year-old woman with an unusual intelligence, determined to earn her spot in the administration as one of the principal analysts of America’s health care policies. Merritt is poised for success, but then an investigation pits her against the most powerful people in Washington DC. At a time when she is falling in love, she discovers stress like never before and betrayal as well. She must make life-changing choices and determine whether to pursue what is just and right or save herself. She may pursue justice, but is she ready for the price?

DC Russell just won me over with the writing — crisp and fluid. The author displays a strong understanding of the insurance industry and weaves a riveting, intriguing story around it. While the pacing might not be fast, there is a beauty of expression and a unique storytelling skill that will grab the reader’s attention and keep it. The character building is meticulously done and readers will enjoy following Merritt through her work, the high class dinners, and back to her bedroom without feeling bored with her. This is because the narrative is atmospheric, the conflict strong, and the characters believable and compelling. Readers will understand what it takes to cheat in the insurance business and the kinds of minds that can unveil the fraud. The Socratic Contract is a great read, a novel with a conflict that sends shock waves right up to the highest office in the country.

Natasha Jackson

The Socratic Contract is a gripping story by DC Russell that explores the ethics, morality and profitability of the healthcare industry. A timely and relevant story line allows the reader to follow a gorgeous government worker, Merritt, as she works to uncover just why one particular insurance company seems to have soaring profits while others are struggling. For the cynical among us, the answer is clear, but Merritt is a government administrator and therefore a true believer, which is kind of irritating but it helps move the plot along. This story really takes off when Merritt begins asking questions that the evil corporate head of the insurance company would rather have no one ask.

The Socratic Contract is an interesting read, filled with a lot of drama and intrigue. The writing could use a bit more energy in a story and a plot this good, but it didn’t detract much from the flow. DC Russell’s tale will have the reader questioning their own beliefs when it comes to addressing how we treat the terminally ill, and how much control we allow government officials and private corporations to have when it comes to decisions that are most important to us. Weaving together the threads of a fast paced mystery, The Socratic Contract is a thrill ride that will have you stopping simply to explore your own feelings on the issues this story brings to the surface. Shady insurance companies, government conspiracies and one plucky administrator make this an exciting thriller that any faithful conspiracy theorist will enjoy.

K.C. Finn

The Socratic Contract is a fast-paced political thriller for adult readers by author DC Russell. Merritt Royce, the senior official responsible for policies relating to healthcare, is about to go head-to-head with a billionaire’s political power when she discovers a deeply-buried secret in a major insurance company. Set in the contemporary mania of the boomer problem and the struggle to support an ageing population, there are harsh truths to be faced in order for law, policy, human well-being and justice in healthcare to all be satisfied. Merritt faces dilemma after dilemma on her journey to not only uncover the inconvenient truth, but decide what is truly the right way to alleviate the problem.

As a Brit, I’m not familiar with the American political or healthcare systems, and as such I found this a little inaccessible as an international read. I’m certain from the detailed descriptions and dialogue that DC Russell has crafted that this is an author who truly knows their field, but engaging a novice in such a complex situation is no easy task. I think fans of the political thriller genre will find The Socratic Contract engaging, thrilling and delightful to delve into, and I was intrigued to see a hidden-away topic like the ageing population thrown into such stark light for examination, as that is truly a global issue. Merritt’s character development was very strong in places, though I felt I connected to her less as a woman and more towards the set of ideas that she was putting forward. Overall, however, an accomplished work.

Grant Leishman

“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, a high level administrator in the Federal Department of Health and Human Services, has her attention 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 DC 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 DC 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, but 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 DC Russell. I will look for more from this author in the future.