Suspicion of Vengeance

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In the sixth title in the Suspicion series, Suspicion of Vengeance, Gail Connor takes on a hot potato of a case when new evidence comes to light and she agrees to guide the appeal of a man convicted years ago of a brutal murder. The transcripts show that he was wrongfully convicted, but they offer no indication of the further crimes that will be committed to leave the verdict intact.

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In the sixth title in the Suspicion series, Suspicion of Vengeance, Gail Connor takes on a hot potato of a case when new evidence comes to light and she agrees to guide the appeal of a man convicted years ago of a brutal murder. The transcripts show that he was wrongfully convicted, but they offer no indication of the further crimes that will be committed to leave the verdict intact.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
To win the release of a convicted murderer, Anthony Quintina and Gail Connor must not only prove his innocence; they must convince the community that convicted him that they are not freeing a dangerous killer. Uncovering plots under a scorching Florida sun.
Publishers Weekly
Once readers are pulled in by the intricate plot of Parker's eighth Gail Connor/Anthony Quintana legal thriller (after Suspicion of Innocence), they won't want to skip a word. The premise is simple enough: Gail is asked to take on the case of an old family friend's grandson, Kenny Ray Clark, who was convicted of the stabbing death of a housewife over a decade earlier, indirectly causing the death of her infant son. Now, after 11 years on death row, his appeals are about to run out. Anthony, Gail's on-again, off-again fianc?, himself a high-powered Florida attorney, warns her of the futility of trying to save Clark. But Gail digs into the records and finds, among other things, a drunk defense attorney, a bogus confession and a witness who would have provided an alibi but was threatened by police. At the same time, she discovers skeletons in her own family's closet that seem to be linked to Clark's case, as well as a crooked real estate deal and some unsavory individuals who don't want her getting involved. With help from Anthony and her cousin Jackie, an idealistic young cop, she races to expose the flaws in the state's case and challenges the bureaucratic "conveyor belt" mentality of the death penalty. If Parker has an ax to grind here, it is the legal system's determination to put judicial procedure and the public's thirst for vengeance ahead of the sanctity of human life. She is a former prosecutor who knows her way around the system; her characters are complex and believable, all of which makes this multifaceted and thought-provoking mystery one of the better ones this year. (Aug. 6) Forecast: Parker hit bestseller lists with Suspicion of Betrayal and looks poised to do so again,having taken on a hot-button issue without being sensational or exploitative. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A double dip into violent deaths past isn't enough to power Miami lawyer Gail Connor's race to save a wrongly convicted killer swiftly heading toward execution.. Everybody in suburban Stuart, Florida, knows that 12 years ago Kenny Ray Clark killed Amber Dodson, who worked for the same developer he did. True, Kenny's always denied it, but his checkered past, a jailhouse snitch he allegedly unburdened himself to, and an eyewitness who placed him at the scene say different. Now that he's coming up to his very last appeal only a few weeks before his own date with death, his grandmother, Gail's ex-housekeeper Ruby Smith, wants Gail to press his court-appointed attorney to do whatever she can on the appeal. Gail presses, all right, and as a reward ends up preparing the appeal herself-dragging in her even more skeptical on-again fiance, criminal attorney Anthony Quintana. As she works feverishly against the clock to locate a possible alibi witness, impeach the snitch, and dig up other possible suspects-from Amber's ineffectual husband Gary to her boss, high-powered developer J. Whitney McGrath, and his redneck gofer Rusty Beck-Gail's attention is drawn increasingly to a second fatality a year before Amber's: the one-car accident that claimed the life of Gail's own aunt, Louise Bryce, a realtor whose widower, Garlan, the cop in charge of the Dodson case, is still certain Kenny's conviction was righteous. It's a shame that all this rooting around in the past leaves precious little room for present-day surprise, suspense, action, or felony. About all that keeps Gail going is Kenny's march toward the death chamber, and stolen moments in which she and Anthony talk about their future togetherand the possibility of an offstage quickie in the present. Parker (Suspicion of Malice, 2000, etc.) pulls off the impossible: the story of an 11th-hour Death Row appeal that actually plods.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781497639218
  • Publisher: Open Road Integrated Media LLC
  • Publication date: 7/22/2014
  • Series: Suspicion Series, #6
  • Pages: 360
  • Sales rank: 1,353,968
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Barbara Parker was trained as a lawyer and worked as a prosecutor with the state attorney’s office in Dade County, Florida, before moving into a private practice that specialized in real estate and family law. Parker earned a master’s degree in creative writing in 1993. Her first legal thriller was Suspicion of Innocence, published in 1994, which was followed by another seven titles in the series featuring her two lawyer protagonists, and sometime lovers Gail Connor and Anthony Quintana. While writing the series, she also produced Criminal JusticeBlood RelationsThe Perfect Fake, and The Dark of DaySuspicion of Innocence was a finalist for the Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America. Two of her titles, Suspicion of Deceit and Suspicion of Betrayal were New York Times bestsellers. Barbara Parker died in March 2009, at age sixty-two.

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Read an Excerpt

Suspicion of Vengeance

By Barbara Parker


Copyright © 2001 Barbara Parker
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4976-3196-0


Sunday night, March 4

The porch lights were too bright, Gail thought. They turned the front of her mother's house into a stage set: wrought-iron furniture, the bricks and white wooden columns, the screen door with its metal silhouette of egrets. Between porch and driveway a live oak tree, fuzzy with air plants, interrupted the glare, and Anthony stopped his Cadillac in its shadow.

He turned off the engine and tilted his head toward the girl sleeping in the backseat. "Do you want me to carry her in?"

"No, it's okay. She can walk."

Neither of them made any move to open a door.

Gail touched his cheek. The late hour had put the stubble of beard on his face. She said softly, "What a fast weekend."

He turned his head to put a kiss in her palm. His lips were full and warm. "We should have stayed in Miami."

Anthony's law partner had invited them to a family weekend at his house in the Keys. The house had unexpectedly filled with relatives and friends of relatives bringing enough Cuban food for a month. Gail and Karen had shared a bed in a guest room; Anthony had been exiled to Raul's boat with some of the other men.

"I miss you already," she said.

He whispered in her ear. "Why don't you put Karen to bed and come to my house?"

She laughed. "I wish."

"Come on. I'll even let you sleep for a couple of hours."

"Karen likes me around in the morning."

"So do I." His smile was visible in the brief glint of light on his teeth.

"Well, you're not eleven years old. Anyway, I have to be in court at eight o'clock."

"Ay, Gail." He held her. "This is crazy, living apart."

"You were the one who threw my engagement ring into the pond."

"A mistake. I told you a thousand times."

"Really. Your aim looked pretty good to me."

Their rush toward marriage last summer had ended in a spectacular fight. Gail had shoved her engagement ring at him, and he had flung it into a water hazard on the golf course behind the Biltmore Hotel. It had taken them months to forgive each other. Anthony wanted to start from where they'd left off. Gail wasn't so sure it could be done.

"When are you going to stop torturing me for that?" He rested his forehead on hers. "What if I found it? Would you marry me if I found it?"

"In all those weeds and muck? Not a chance."

"But if I did?" His black eyes seemed enormous, so close to her face. "Would you?"


He whispered, "Caprichosa. I think you don't love me anymore." His breath warmed her cheek. He spoke to her in Spanish. What he wanted to do to her.

Her skin burned.

Then his eyes were shifting toward the house, focusing on something past the passenger window. "Cono. It's your mother." He popped the trunk release, opened the door, and got out.

Gail felt like a teenager caught necking past her curfew. Irene Connor stood at the edge of the porch in a bright yellow sweater, arms crossed against the chill. She was a petite, pretty woman with curly red hair.

"Hi, Mom."

"Hi, honey. I was about to wonder if you'd been in an accident or something."

Gail opened the rear door. "Karen, we're home. Wake up." She tugged the beach towel away. "Come on, sweetie, get up."

Karen yawned widely as she stumbled toward the house, eyes half closed, a long-legged girl in shorts and big sneakers. She was making a show of it, and it occurred to Gail that Karen hadn't been asleep at all. She eavesdropped without remorse, spurred by a squeamish but ravenous curiosity about her mother's sex life.. Anthony walked behind them with a suitcase and beach bag. Irene held the screen door. She was frowning. "Anthony, dear, do you have a couple of minutes? I need to talk to you."

"Is something wrong?" He looked down at her, concerned.

"I want to ask a favor for a friend of mine. Her name is Ruby Smith. Gail, you remember Ruby, don't you? When we used to go up to Sewall's Point? The older woman who baby-sat for you and Renee?"

"Of course I remember Ruby. Is she all right?"

"She needs to find a criminal lawyer. I'll tell you about it inside. Isn't it cold tonight?"

Anthony sent an inquisitive look Gail's way, and she shrugged. Irene's gray cat scooted through the door as they came into the foyer. The tabby watched from the sofa. Irene straightened Karen's sleep-tangled hair. "It's bedtime for somebody."

"Not yet, it's too early. Can I have something to eat?"

A look passed between Gail and her mother, and Gail turned Karen toward the hall. "Go on, sweetie. Bath and pajamas first, okay? Gramma needs to talk with Anthony for a little while."

With a dramatic sigh, Karen vanished toward her bedroom.

In the kitchen, Irene offered to make coffee. Anthony preferred plain soda, if she didn't mind, or he would be up half the night. When her mother turned away, Gail caught him looking at his watch. He made a quick, guilty smile and smoothed his hair back. It fell into deep waves at his collar. Gail's fair complexion required sunscreen and a hat; Anthony's skin glowed with a dark tan.

Irene filled the glasses. "Have you ever been to Sewall's Point?" When Anthony replied that he wasn't sure if he had heard of it, she said, "It's on the intracoastal waterway near Stuart, about a hundred miles north of here, the next county up from Palm Beach. My parents bought a vacation house after Daddy came back from the war. Ruby worked for us. Later on, Ed and I bought the house from my parents' estate, and we kept Ruby on. The girls adored her."

Gail's memory produced a snapshot of a short, round woman, a frizzy gray perm, and a muumuu with big patch pockets. Ruby Smith had carried a box of Red Hots in one of them, which she would tap out into their palms if they'd been good. Her accent was twangy Florida Cracker, and her lap could hold three children at once. Ruby had cleaned house and cared for Gail, her sister, and the assortment of cousins and friends who would drop by.

Her mother said, "After Ed passed away, I sold the house, but I'd go visit my sister Louise and her family. Her husband was Garlan Bryce. He's the sheriff of Martin County now. You might have heard the name? My niece, Jackie, is with the city of Stuart police department, following in her father's footsteps, you might say."

Anthony sipped his club soda, gamely trying to follow this torrent of information.

"Louise died in a car accident," Irene said. "She was thirty-six. Did Gail tell you?"

He let out a murmur of condolence and said that yes, Gail had mentioned it.

"Anyway, Ruby and I have kept in touch. She's eighty-one years old, and I haven't seen her since my sister's funeral, but we've written. She lives in a retirement home now, and her eyes are so bad she can't drive. Except for church she hardly goes anywhere. She is the dearest, sweetest thing."

"Mrs. Smith doesn't sound like a person who would need the advice of a criminal defense attorney," Anthony said. "What's the problem?"

"Her grandson. His name is Kenny Ray Clark. Eleven years ago, he was tried for murder and sentenced to death. Ruby believes he's innocent. She asked me to talk to you about it."

Anthony raised his brows. "I think he's past any help I could give him."

The memory slowly reassembled itself in Gail's mind. "Kenny Ray.... Right, I remember. Ruby brought him with her a couple of times. He was kind of tall and skinny? He didn't talk much. That was ages ago. Did you ever tell me about his arrest?"

"Yes, but you were away in law school," Irene said. "Want to hear what else Ruby said? She said Jesus spoke to her and told her Kenny Ray was innocent, and if he was going to be saved, it was up to her to find a way to do it." Irene looked from Gail to Anthony and back again.

Gail nodded, unable to think of an appropriate reply.

Anthony appeared to contemplate the ice cubes in his glass. "What did her grandson do? Allegedly. Who was the victim?"

"A young married woman. Someone broke into her house and stabbed her to death. The real tragedy is, her baby died, too. He was in his crib and choked on his milk. Just awful. They wanted to charge Kenny Ray with two murders, but the medical examiner said the baby's death was an accident. The husband came home from work and found his wife and child both dead. Of course the community was up in arms, and the police had to find someone to pin it on."

"They don't put a man away without evidence," Anthony said. "What did they have?"

"A neighbor picked Kenny Ray out of a lineup, but he had an alibi. He was across town when it happened. A man in jail with Kenny Ray said he confessed, but would you believe someone like that?"

"The jury did," Anthony said. "They believed the snitch, and they believed the eyewitness. Prosecutors love eyewitnesses. They're better than a fingerprint. Is the case still on appeal?"

"I don't know," Irene said. "Ruby told me the Supreme Court turned him down a few weeks ago."

"Which Supreme Court? Florida? United States?"

"The U.S. Supreme Court, I think. Why are you shaking your head? Is that bad?"

"He's running out of time. I don't know what issues could be left to litigate."

"Oh, this is terrible." Irene reached across the table. "Anthony, could you take the case? Don't worry about your fees. Ruby has some money saved up."


"She said she would spend it all if she had to, every last dime, but she needs to find the right lawyer, someone experienced and tough and smart. I told her I'd trust you with my own life, if I had to."

"Irene, thank you for your confidence in me, but I can't. I'm sorry."

"Why not?" Gail leaned crossed arms on the table. "It would be exciting."


"To save an innocent man from execution. Don't you get bored with all those white-collar, federal bank fraud trials you've been doing lately?"

A smile flickered at the corner of his mouth. "I can't take Kenny Ray Clark's case because he already has a lawyer—a team of them. The state of Florida appoints capital appellate lawyers for everyone on death row, one of the few states that does. I'm surprised that Mrs. Smith didn't mention it."

"She did," Irene said. "She's just not satisfied with the job they've done so far. There he sits on death row, and she can't get anything out of them except 'We're working on it.' She wants to hire an expert."

"They are experts. They're dedicated professionals who do nothing but defend prisoners under sentence of death." Anthony spoke slowly, clearly, and Gail distinctly heard the creeping edge of impatience. "Ruby didn't hire them, and she can't fire them. They're her grandson's lawyers, and that is probably why they don't talk to her. Even if Kenny Ray hired a new lawyer, and it would be very expensive, how much could be done after eleven years of appeals that hasn't been done already?" Anthony waited for Irene to deduce the obvious. Kenny Ray Clark was out of luck.

Irene lowered her eyes. "I don't know what to tell Ruby."

When Anthony glanced at Gail, she shot him a look hard enough to make him sigh. He took Irene's hand in both of his and patted it gently. "Tell her you talked to me. Tell her I said that the best thing she can do is trust his lawyers, and not to look for someone to make miracles. They will do a good job for Kenny Ray—a better job than I could do. If there is any way to prove his innocence, they will find it."

"Do you think so?"

"Of course."

Leaning back in her chair, feeling distinctly let down, Gail noticed a movement at the crack under the kitchen door, a shifting of light, probably made by someone's feet. A cat. Or a creature equally as curious.

"Karen? Come in here."

The swinging door opened, and Karen walked through as if it were natural to have come the long way around instead of through the back hall from the bedrooms. She wore a long yellow sleep shirt and her hair was still damp. She kissed each of them in turn, such a perfect child, smelling of soap and shampoo. "I finished my bath."

Irene roused herself. "Sit down, precious. I'll bet you're starving. Let's see what I've got in the fridge."

Karen went to the cookie jar. "How do they execute people? In the electric chair?"

"You've been eavesdropping," Gail said. "I thought we agreed you wouldn't do that anymore."

"I wasn't. I heard you talking. I can't go around with my hands over my ears."

From across the kitchen, Irene said, "They inject something in his veins to make his heart stop beating."

"Like, stick a poison needle in his arm?"

"That's right."

"Mother, please."

"Do you prefer that I lie to her?" Irene shoved a casserole dish into the microwave and punched numbers on the keypad.

Anthony glanced at his watch and pretended surprise. "Ah. It's almost eleven o'clock. I should be going."

Karen asked, "They won't kill him if he's innocent, will they?"

"Damn good question," Irene said.

"They don't believe he is innocent." Anthony put a hand on Karen's shoulder. "He had a trial, and the jury found him guilty."

"For stabbing that woman." Too late, Karen realized her mistake, and glanced at Gail. "I heard you all the way in my room. You were pretty loud."

"I'll bet. We'll discuss this later."

Karen turned a bright smile on Anthony. "Thanks for taking me to the Keys. I had a really nice time."

"You are very welcome, señorita" He made a small bow. "Good night."

Gail and her mother walked with him to the front door, then onto the porch. Gail was still in her shorts, adequate for bright sunshine, too cold at this hour.

With an excited intake of breath, Irene grabbed his arm. "Anthony, do you suppose, before I call Ruby, you could speak to his lawyers? You know. Find out what's going on? What they plan to do next?"

"Yes, why not?" Gail said.

His quick glance meant only one thing: Stay out of this, por favor. He gave her mother a regretful smile. "No, I'm afraid I can't, Irene. Client confidentiality. Lawyers aren't allowed to discuss their cases, even as a favor for a client's grandmother." He bent to kiss her cheek. "Let me know what happens, will you? I wish I could have been of more help. It was good to see you, Irene. Next time, a happier occasion."

"I hope so."

When the front door had closed and they were alone, Gail said, "I can't believe the way you just brushed my mother off."

"I did not brush her off, Gail. I gave an honest, pragmatic opinion."

"All she wants is to help an old friend."

"I know that. I would like to be able to help, believe me."

"Really? You can't make one phone call?"

"No, I can't."

"Why not?"

"Because—as I just explained to Irene, if you were listening—they won't talk to me."

"They would if you got Kenny Ray's authorization."

"Oh. Perdóname. I didn't think of that." He fixed his dark eyes on her. "If Ruby Smith wants to know the status of his appeal, and she isn't getting information from his lawyers, she should ask her grandson."

"What a sucky attitude."

"I am sorry you think so."

"How much time would it take, for God's sake? Ruby would pay you."

Anthony extended thumb and last finger, miming a telephone at his ear. "'Oh, it's you, Mr. Quintana, big shot lawyer. You want to know if we are doing our jobs. Yes, we are, and screw you.' But maybe you're right. Maybe they would talk to me. 'Mr. Quintana, we are so sorry to tell you that our client just lost his last appeal, but we hope the next one will work. Maybe we can get him a few more years on death row.' Gail, all I would do is raise this woman's hopes, then have to explain why the jury found her grandson guilty on evidence too persuasive to ignore, and that the best she can do is pray. Maybe Jesus will speak to the appeals court."

Gail narrowed her eyes.

"Sweetheart. Please. She's an old woman who used to clean houses for a living. I won't take advantage of her." He gently squeezed her shoulders. "Don't be angry with me, querida. There are lawyers who would take her money and in the end, accomplish nothing. I'm not one of them."

Gail leaned against his chest. "This is so sad."

"I know." His arms went around her.

"It's got to be terrible for Ruby. Waiting for him to die. Believing in his innocence."

"Yes. It's very sad."

Gail knew that he didn't give a damn what happened to Kenny Ray Clark. He didn't care and didn't want to care. Anthony Quintana had not become successful by taking on lost causes, unless—as he had jokingly told her—the client had a big enough bank account or a big enough cause to make losing palatable. Anthony could demand monstrous fees for his services, but would not take a dime from people like Ruby Smith. Gail had to admire him for that.

His hands were warm on her back. He nibbled her ear. "Ven conmigo."


Excerpted from Suspicion of Vengeance by Barbara Parker. Copyright © 2001 Barbara Parker. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2004



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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2003

    Still fabolously intriging & the hottest love story.

    Anthont and Gail are the hottest couple, and their story is never dully or in any way predictible. They always leave you dying for more of their journey.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2001

    Gail and Anthony Rule Again!!!!!!!!

    I love this super couple--forget soap- operas(who needs a tv when you have this book)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2001

    Suspicion of Vengeance

    Certainly Barbara Parker's best work yet. I couldn't put it down. I strongly recommend anyone who is capable of reading to read this novel.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    exciting romantic legal thriller

    After everything that has happened to them in the past, lawyers Gail Connor and Anthony Quintana are trying to make their relationship work. He hires divers to try and find the engagement ring he threw into the muddy pond. Their joint profession brings them closer together when Gail¿s mother asks her to help the son of an old family retainer appeal his death sentence. <P>Kenny Ray Clarke has been convicted for the vicious death of Amber Dardson twelve years ago. He has been sentenced to death and the appeal process is rapidly running out. Gail is reluctantly dragged into taking on the appeal. Anthony knows what the mental price on a lawyer the process takes and reluctantly helps her in order to spare her a nervous breakdown. By the time they are fully acquainted with the facts of the case, Anthony and Gail believe their client is innocent, but only have days left to prove their case before Kenny receives a lethal injection. <P> SUSPICION OF VENGEANCE is one of the author¿s best Gail Connor and Anthony Quintana novels to date. Barbara Parker has thoroughly researched the death penalty issue and it is more than likely readers on the fence will come away converted to her belief that its too open for human error. This novel is an exciting romantic legal thriller that will have massive cross-genre appeal. <P>Harriet Klausner

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