(12. - 1195.) Suspect by Scott Turow - Pinky, Sandy Stern’s granddaughter, is back. She appeared in The Last Trial helping her grandfather, who was featured in over a generation of Turow’s books. Stern was a suave distinguished lawyer. Pinky is a raucous reckless young woman who was cast out from the police academy. She has tattoos spread around her body. While an unlikely figure to aid lawyers she has a vital aptitude for an investigator. In her words “I love to snoop and pry”.
Beyond the ink Pinky, now 33, has a striking presence with a “magenta Mohawk (and a blue undercut on one side)”. Much of the time she has a nail in her nose (it is Goth jewelry in that it breaks apart rather than going through her nose).
She spends hours on YouTube looking to “master” PIBOT:
It means the Private Investigator’s Bag of Tricks. That started with a concealed carry permit, training included in my private investigator’s course. Now I’m always reading about and practicing skills - surveillance techniques, disguises, clever ruses to get people to talk.
She is working for Rik (he has removed the “c” in an unsuccessful attempt to be cool) Dudek who is at the opposite end of the criminal defence spectrum from Sandy. He handles “bar fights and first-time DUIs and drunken stunts by teenagers”.
Now 52, Rik is hoping a new case “might help him finally step up”. Highland Isle Police Chief Gomez is “accused by three officers of demanding sex in exchange for promotions on the force - “sextortion”. A friend of Rik’s since childhood, Chief Lucia Gomez-Barrera has a big personality. She denies the accusations of her male accusers.
Pinky obsesses a bit on her adjoining apartment dweller. (Their combined apartments were once a single apartment.) She thinks of him as “the weird guy next door”. He is a “creature of unvarying habit”. Every night he gets takeout from a small Mexican restaurant. Lacking a name she dubs him “TWO”. Pinky does live in her own world.
The City of Highland Isle (HI) is on an island in Kindle County and was long controlled by the mob. Their presence lingers.
My reader’s heart stopped for a moment when I read that Sandy is now in assisted living. Her Pops gives her his Cadillac CTS when he goes to the facility.
Pinky is tasked with finding the evidence that can discredit the accusers. She looks up a past lover, Toyo (Toy) Eo, who has been an HIPD officer for 12 years seeking to make her a personal confidential informant.
Pinky has no filter. Wanting to know what is in a trunk in his locker she breaks and enters but her pick breaks in the lock. She escapes the situation but has risked her future to satisfy her curiosity.
Two weeks before the Chief’s hearing they still have no evidence to shake the accusers. Somehow a local real estate tycoon, Ritz Vojczek, whom she fired from the police department early on as Chief, has something on the complainants.
At the first stage of the hearing Rik has the rare experience of evidence that allows him to destroy the credibility of an accuser on cross-examination. I did wonder if Turow was, not so subtly, showing how crucifying an alleged male victim of sexual harassment produces nary a complaint.
I realize it is a challenge to identify a character whose identity is unknown to Pinky but “TWO” felt so artificial.
TWO is identified as Koob and becomes an important character.
I was never comfortable with the TWO / Koob subplot. While connected I found it more of a distraction.
It took 150 pages but the book took off when the hearing is turned upside down. Sudden death, possibly a murder complicates the sextortion proceedings.
While the key evidence is not found by accident the circumstances defy credibility.
The conclusion is classic thriller though the landscape is not littered with bodies. The ending has nothing to do with lawyers and legal proceedings.
The book is really about Pinky as an investigator for the lawyers. The lawyers play a secondary role. The court proceedings are well done as always with Turow. While Pinky is fascinating I prefer Turow's books that concentrate on law and lawyers.
I have found Turow’s books vary in quality. Suspect is not one of the best. It is a well told mystery but I know he can do better.
Turow, Scott – (2000) - Personal Injuries (Third best fiction of 2000); (2003) - Reversible Errors (Tied for the best fiction in 2003); (2007) - Ordinary Heroes; (2011) - Innocent; (2012) - One L (My Review) and One L (Michael Selnes review) and Thoughts on Reviews of One L by Myself and Michael; (2014) - Identical; (2018) - Testimony and Lawyers and Opportunities in International Criminal Courts; (2020) - The Last Trial - Opening and Mid-Trial and Closing