The Sophocles Rule

What starts out as a journalist’s curiosity about some old quarters quickly spirals into an investigation of a small town’s old, unsolved murder and bank robbery.

The Sophocles Rule features Tony Harrington in another investigative journalist turned crime solver novel. The plot is fast-paced, engaging and suspenseful. When readers think they know what’s about to happen, LeValley throws in a surprise twist that will leave readers wanting more. In addition, LeValley’s expertly crafted descriptions and world building is spectacular; readers will feel as though they are in Orney, experiencing the small town and its unique characters. Suspense, danger, and the thrill for answers draw the reader deeper and deeper into a mystery that continues to grow until its gripping climax.

One of the author’s biggest strengths is his ability to write the book in a way that allows it to stand on its own, even though many titles precede it. First-time readers will benefit from being able to follow the story and understand LeValley’s characters easily. They will also be enticed to venture back and give the rest of the titles in the series a try.

With believable characters and a thrilling fast-paced plot, readers will surely be thoroughly captivated with this engaging page turner.

Reviewed by Book Excellence Awards

“The Sophocles Rule” is local novelist Joe LeValley’s fifth book about the fictional town of Orney, Iowa, its local newspaper and star reporter Tony Harrington. And it may be his best. LeValley, a retired Des Moines hospital executive, finished the book a year ago, but publication was delayed several months due to shortages of paper and ink for book printers. The plot unfolds after solid-silver coins minted before 1964 start showing up in Orney and are traced to a bungled 1960s bank robbery that resulted in the slaying of a prominent citizen. The Greek philosopher Sophocles, who is quoted at the beginning of the book, once wrote: “Hide nothing, for time, which sees and hears all, exposes all.”

And so it is with the plot; actions buried in the past unravel in the present.

Dave Elbert - columnist for The Des Moines Business Record

4 out of 4 stars. Tony Harrington, a newspaper reporter, was on a stakeout with his friend Special Agent Rich Davis. When they flipped a quarter to see who would go for food, he noticed it was made from real silver and was minted in 1961. Somehow, he sensed that this was important. Upon being questioned, various merchants around town informed him that they had been witnessing an increase in similar quarters. Tony discovered they were being spent by a teenage boy, who disappeared soon afterward. He was surprised to learn there had been a bank robbery in town about sixty years previously (in which the banker had been killed). The case had never been solved. Certain people are still around who don’t want the case reopened, and they will go to any lengths to prevent the newspaper’s investigation. Tony’s boss and friend, Ben, received a surprise visit from a woman he had been in love with in the past. She was running from her cruel, extremely intelligent husband. Ben, still harboring feelings for her, agreed to let her stay. Tony and Ben have no idea how dangerous their lives are about to become. The Sophocles Rule by Joseph LeValley is a 311-page crime drama with plenty of mystery and suspense and a little bit of romance. This is the fifth story in A Tony Harrington Novel series. However, the author includes enough information that keeps the reader informed about the characters and any past events that are pertinent to the tale. I was never puzzled about any previous incidents or characters. Considering this is the fifth book, it is an impressive feat. Therefore, it can be read as a standalone novel as all of the relevant questions are answered. The author has utilized his experience as a newspaper reporter to create believable characters and a realistic plot. It is obvious he is writing about something of which he has knowledge. This expertise is also shown in his creation of a fascinating story with only a few minor errors. The story is narrated from the third-person point of view but is mainly from Tony’s perspective. This provides an eye into everything that is happening but also supplies the information to understand Tony and his motives. He is courageous and unafraid to fight for others, but he is also humble. He is a very likable character. The action begins promptly in the first chapter. Mr. LeValley weaves a story that mesmerizes the reader throughout with an excellent plot, lots of action, surprising twists, and nerve-racking suspense. Even though the story is riveting, interwoven humor and romance help to lighten the mood. Nothing was seen in this intriguing book that I didn’t enjoy. Therefore, it deserves a rating of four out of four stars. I enthusiastically recommend it to readers who like crime dramas, mysteries, and suspense. Profanities and violence are encountered. Sex is alluded to but not graphically described. If any of that is a problem for readers, they may need to look elsewhere.

Online Book

This was my first encounter with Tony Harrington, a fictional journalist from Orney, Iowa created by Joseph LeValley, and I have to say that it was an experience that I would be very keen to repeat.  
“The Sophocles Rule” is book five in a series, something of which I was unaware when I began my reading of it, but this did not matter: my lack of knowledge of this book’s precursors did nothing to hinder my enjoyment of this one. The action of the novel follows Harrington as he pursues his investigative line of inquiry, in this instance, an attempt to discover the truth behind the mysterious appearance of some very old currency, most notably silver quarters. Harrington does this with the aid of his friends in law enforcement, DCI Special Agent Rich Davis, and FBI Agent Tabors, along with his film star girlfriend, Darcy Gillson, who I was excited to read was far from the stereotype of a Hollywood starlet and was a perceptive, intuitive woman first, beautiful, successful actress second. Harrington himself is a likeable hero, brave but vulnerable, with a strong idea of loyalty to friends as well as a keenness to pursue a story and provides an engaging lead throughout the whole book.
The narrative is peppered with other people who inhabit Orney and LeValley is good at showing the comic and conflicting element to folks in terms of how they interact with others, their concerns and their familial relationships. His depictions are very human and accessible and this is one of the strengths of his fiction – bringing people to life in a convincing way that allows the reader to become absorbed in the story. Also, for those who like their murder mysteries on the clean side of gory, LeValley’s book provides enough threat and action for it to be thrilling, but there is nothing gratuitous in the depiction of violence within the story; it is involved but in a way that is necessary to the development of plot.  
For me, I found that this book was very well written from start to finish, with a convincing plot and characters who sprang from the page through witty dialogue and well-realized relationships. “The Sophocles Rule” by Joseph LeValley was a very fluid read, and I found myself racing through it with ease and finished it keen to meet Harrington again.

Rachel Deeming - for Reader Views

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