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From Barnes & NobleMalice, Murder, and Mayhem
For fans of the Suspicion mystery series by Edgar nominee Barbara Parker, there is good news. The next book in the series, Suspicion of Malice, is here, and it's the most riveting one yet. As a former state prosecutor for Dade County, Florida, Parker's keen grasp of the politics and subtleties involved in the practice of law is obvious in her books and is a large part of their appeal. But her strongest suit is her ability to pull readers into the lives of two of the most complex and fascinating characters to come down the pike in years -- lawyers Anthony Quintana and Gail Connor.
In the last book, Suspicion of Betrayal, Connor and Quintana had a major blowup and broke off their engagement. Anthony spent some time in Spain, while Gail remained in Miami to try to mend her broken heart, resuscitate her law practice, and raise her preadolescent daughter. Though determined to put Anthony as far behind her as possible, Gail finds the fates have something else in mind. She is approached by Anthony's teenage daughter, Angela, who begs Gail to defend her boyfriend, Bobby Gonzales, a talented young ballet dancer and the prime suspect in a murder case.
The murder victim is Roger Cresswell, one of the heirs apparent in the wealthy, yacht-building Cresswell family. Apparently Roger and Bobby had a falling-out, and their heated exchange was witnessed by several people, making Bobby the lead suspect. Plus, an altercation that led to Roger's bloody nose has left Bobby with a shirt that has the dead man's blood on it. Bobby gets a momentary reprieve when it's discovered he has an alibi -- two of them, in fact. But the reprieve doesn't last long. One of the alibis, a high-profile judge up for election, attended the same party Bobby did on the night of the murder, but won't admit to being there. Much to Gail's dismay, the judge's determination is supported by his lawyer, none other than Anthony Quintana. To make matters worse, the second half of Bobby's alibi is Quintana's daughter, who has been forbidden by her father to see Bobby.
Caught in the middle and struggling to deal with her own issues, Gail reluctantly accepts Anthony's help, realizing that a criminal murder case is a bit outside her realm of experience. Together they take a closer look at the eccentric and powerful Cresswells, a family with too much money, too few morals, and a whole truckload of dark secrets they'd rather not expose. But Gail has a secret of her own, one she is reluctant to share with Anthony, knowing he'll be angry and unsure herself just what it means. Yet it's a secret that must come out eventually. And when it does, it will have a devastating impact on both of their lives.
As Anthony and Gail close in on the killer, they also close in on their shared emotions. There is much hurt to overcome and hefty walls to tear down, but there is no denying that they still have strong feelings for each other. When the killer is at long last revealed and Gail is targeted as a victim, it will force these two lovers to face some painful and tragic facts.
One of Parker's greatest strengths is her character development. The relationship between Gail and Anthony is every bit as riveting as the race to find a killer. And certain members of the Cresswell family are as twisted and corrupt as they come. Parker's talents at plotting make it hard to tell just which characters are the worst, as each one weaves a web of lies -- some for altruistic reasons, others for purely selfish ones. Unraveling this sticky web of half-truths is only part of the fun. Watching two proud, passionate, and stubborn lovers try to mend the rent fabric of their own lives is an equal joy. It's Parker's ability to keep these characters interesting and fresh that assures this series a long and successful future.