In the fifth title in the Suspicion series, Suspicion of Malice , Gail and Anthony have recently broken up and find themselves on opposite sides of a tangled case when Anthony’s teenage daughter comes to Gail to defend her boyfriend in a capital murder case. Gail takes the case, expecting to have easy access to a reluctant but nonetheless available exonerating witness—until she meets her witness’s lawyer, Anthony Quintana. The personal and professional passions run high, with a young man’s life on the line and conflict of interest in the air. Suspicion of Malice is the 5th book in the Suspicion series, but you may enjoy reading the series in any order.
About 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 Justice , Blood Relations , The Perfect Fake , and The Dark of Day. Suspicion 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.
Read an Excerpt
It was the dog that awakened her, the strange noises he made. A yelping whine, then a bark. Then nothing, and she drifted back to sleep with the soft whirr of the air conditioner. Rain tapped on the roof of the cottage, and dim light came through the window. Then the barking started up again.
Diane thought Jack might come down from the house and see about it, because after all, Buddy was his damned dog. She remembered that Jack had thrown a parry last night, and he'd been happily drunk when she'd gotten home at midnight. It had been three in the morning before the music and laughter had quieted down.
Roof-roof-roof. Roof-roof. Hyeeeeeeee
Diane shoved the pillow off her head and squinted at her clock. 6:45. "Oh, great." In plaid boxers and a camisole, she stumbled out onto the small wooden porch. Nothing stirred in the yard. All she could see of Jack's house was some white clapboard and the steps to the screened porch. In the other direction, past the mildewing seawall, lower Biscayne Bay gleamed as dully as an old nickel.
No dog anywhere in sight. "Stupid mutt."
A walkway ran across the yard, vanishing under a cedar trellis and into a thick stand of palm trees. He was in there. Roof-roof. Roof.
"Buddy! Come!" What was he doing? Diane thought of bufo toadshuge, slimy creatures with poisonous skin. Buddy would taste anything. She ran down the steps and across the yard, then under the trellis. Vines decades old kept out the rain, and the light dimmed. Dead leavesstuck to her bare feet. There was a fountain farther on, and Diane could hear it. The path turned, then opened up to a semicircle of teak benches, beds of bromeliads, and hanging baskets of orchids.
Jack's black Lab stood right in the middle of the path. He turned his head and looked at her, and his tail wagged. Diane came closer, then stopped. There was something just past him. The low, overcast sun barely penetrated the shade, and the thingwhatever it waslay halfway under some bushes. Gradually the details became clear. A man's legs in tan slacks, feet pointing upward. An arm.
Barking, the dog loped toward her. Diane stumbled, caught herself, and raced back the way she had come, along the path, under the trellis, and across the wet grass to Jack's house, then up the steps. Her hair fell from its knot and into her eyes. Buddy danced in circles around her. She flung open the screen door, leaving him in the yard.
A spare key was hidden in a conch shell. She retrieved it in trembling fingers and jammed it into the lock. The back door opened into the kitchen. "Jack! Jack!" She ran through the hall, slipping as she rounded the corner. Dim light came from a globe held aloft by a bronze nude.
"Jack!" Her feet thudded up the stairs. "Jack, get up!"
His door swung open and Jack came out in old hiking shorts. "I'm up! What in the name of God's little angels is going on?" He was pulling a faded green T-shirt down over his belly. His eyes were puffy, and his big sandy mustache was turned up on one end, down on the other.
"There's a man by the fountain. On the pathoh, my God, Jackhe's dead. I heard Buddy barking, and I went to see" Diane steadied herself on Jack's shoulder. "And there was a man lying on the ground. I think he's dead."
"What do you mean, dead?"
"I mean not breathing, Jack! Not moving."
"Maybe he's sleeping."
"No! Buddy's been barking forever."
"Well, who is it?"
"I don't know! I was afraid to look!"
"Calm down." Jack rubbed his face. "My. How inconsiderate, right in my backyard. He's probably asleep. Wait for me downstairs. I'm going to get some shoes on."
"Do you want me to call the police?"
"No. If you want to be helpful, ma petite, go make some coffee."
The door closed. Diane heard a woman's voice. Then Jack's low murmur. A few seconds later he came out in his old leather boat shoes. The door closed, but not soon enough to cut off a view of tangled red hair and a sheet clutched to somebody's breasts.
Jack's stern glance admonished Diane for not being downstairs already. At the landing she whispered, "That was Nikki."
"Shhh. You saw nothing, child." He nudged her along.
Jack looked out the kitchen window as if the wild landscaping would part and reveal whatever was there. He held aside the curtain with one hand and with the other twirled the ends of his big mustache into points.
"I had hoped, on this drizzly Sunday, to spend the day in the sack. No hope of that now." He dropped the curtain. "If my guest ventures downstairs, tell her to stay in the house. I'll go have a look-see."
"What about the coffee?"
"Of course. Start the coffeenot that I need it after this jolt."
Jack pushed open the back door. The dog rose from the mat, and its swaying tail tipped over a beer bottle. More of them littered the porch. The ashtrays were full, and a roach clip lay on a side table. Dead? Dead drunk was more like it. Guests had occasionally been found in the yard, sleeping it off, but not, he had to admit, this time of year, not with mosquitos chewing on exposed flesh and humidity so high one could work up a sweat breathing.
The drizzle was turning to rain. Jack touched his .38 snub-nose through his pocket. The neighborhood was generally safe, and he didn't expect to see any strangers, conscious or otherwise, but one never knew. Buddy trotted along beside him.
The main walkway from the house, paved with old keystone, arrowed to the seawall and a boathouse, where Jack kept his fishing boat raised on davits. Stepping-stones curved left toward the cottage, and another path meandered through a collection of rare plants and palm trees to the grotto. That had been his cousin Maggie's mad creation. She had piled up coral rocks and studded them with tacky Florida souvenirs, then set a bronze manatee on its tail. The sea cow's hippo-like mouth spurted water into a pond where fat carp wove among purple swamp lilies.
Jack could hear the splash of water as he took the path under the trellis. It blocked the rain, and intermittent drops spattered onto the keystone. Jack swept a spider web off his face. Then he saw ita man's legs and feet. White canvas deck shoes with leather laces. Khaki pants, soiled with dirt and bits of rotten leaves. The rest of the man lay just beyond a clump of elephant-ear philodendron.
"Hey!" Jack knew already, but called out, "Wake up!"
Drops of water fell from the trellis onto a philodendron leaf, which moved slightly, as if shuddering. Buddy whined through his nose. Jack pointed toward the house. "Go home!" The dog circled, panting and wagging his tail.
Walking closer, Jack felt a sharp crunch under his shoea snail, smashed like a tiny brown porcelain cup. Slime trails crisscrossed the path. Standing alongside the man's thighs, Jack slowly peered around the huge leaves of the philodendron, holding the edge of one to pull it aside. He saw the other armmuscled, golden-hairedand at the end of it a hand covered in blood. The shattered bones of the wrist gleamed purplish through the skin.
Without his volition, Jack's eyes traveled upward, quickly taking in details that mounted in horrific impact. A torso in a white knit shirt, neat little red holes in it. And so much blood. Not on the shirt. On the face. The left half was bathed in red, and streaks of it ran into the man's ear and matted his hair. One blue eye gazed upward. The other was a pulpy mass of glimmering black. It seemed to be moving. Then Jack saw the ants. Swarms of them.
"Oh, sweet Jesus," he moaned, letting go of the leaf, which gaily bobbed and dipped. Hands on knees, he waited for the dizziness to pass, then stood up. "Buddy, come!" His voice cracked.
Walking slowly through the rain, he gathered his thoughts. Water dripped off his eyebrows and chin, and his T-shirt clung to his back. Diane was on the porch. She pulled open the screen door, and her eyes took him in, finding the answer. She whispered, "He's dead, isn't he?"
Jack went inside, shaking his head when she asked who it was. He grabbed a dishtowel and ran it over his face and neck. The smell of coffee filled the kitchen, but he had no taste for it.
Nikki sat at the table, green eyes open wide. Jack absently smoothed his mustache and stared across the kitchen.
Diane spoke again. "Jack? Who is it?"
He beckoned to Nikki. "Come with me into the study for a sec. Diane, be a good girl and tidy up the back porch, will you? Don't go anywhere. I won't be long."
He took Nikki down the hall, their footsteps reduced to soft thuds on an ancient oriental carpet gone to threads at the edges. The house was too cold. He had turned the air conditioner down to sixty-something before Nikki had slid into bed, giggling. In the study, gray light filtered through wooden blinds.
"What is going on, Jack? Say something. What happened out there? Somebody died?" Her glossy pink mouth was open.
He set his hands firmly on her shoulders. "I want you to be very calm. Can you do that?" Nikki nodded. "It's Roger. He's been shot."
She stared, then blinked. "Roger? Roger is ... dead?" She dropped onto the sofa. "Oh, my God."
He sat beside her. "This is a mess, baby."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Read on trip to Germany. Good airplane read.
Conner and Quintana's stoy is a good one. Malice was a bit confusing and felt disconnected at ti.es
I was really hooked after reading the first book in this series. I subsequently have read the entire series and really enjoyed reading about the main characters - Gail and Anthony and their families and how their relationship progressed. Great stuff.
I had been waiting for this sequel to see what happened to Gail and Quintana, so if you were curious, too, your answers have arrived! I won't spoil that part, but there is a good mystery involving a death in a wealthy family and the involvement of a young dancer (in love with Quintana's daughter). One can almost feel the heat of the humid Florida city -- and there is plenty of passion.
This is the second Gail Connor/Anthony Quintana novel I've read (the other was Suspicion of Betrayal), and once again this book was fast-paced, suspenseful, and not at all predictable. Having read Suspicion of Betrayal helped A LOT to understand the subtext of the romantic relationship between Gail and the oh-so-sexy Anthony, so I would definitely recommend reading the books in order. As for Suspicion of Malice, I found it hard to get into at first, simply because the Cresswell family tree is not at all intuitive. Even now, after having read the book, I'm not sure I could draw it correctly. Aside from this though, this was a thoroughly enjoyable read..something you can read in a matter of 2-3 days and enjoy every hour.
I FELL INTO READING THE GAIL CONNOR BOOKS BY ACCIDENT....I READ THE SUSPICION OF GUILT FIRST AND THEN WAS GIVEN SUSPICION OF MALICE...NOW THAT I SEE HOW MUCH I MISSED INBETWEEN I HAVE TO FILL IN ALL THE BLANKS. I HAD TROUBLE GETTING INTO MALICE AT FIRST AND THEN GOT 'HOOKED' AND ZOOMED THRU...CANT WAIT TO READ THE OTHERS!!!
The book is GREAT!!! I enjoyed it so much, we need another one(as long as they stay together). I want to see them married. Thank you for keeping the storeyline interesting!!
I have read all of the books in this series and in my opinion this is the best yet. The author is successful in making Gail and Anthony's relationship very real to us readers. Not only that, but the book does a very good job at not getting sidetracked by just dealing with their relationship, the suspense plot-line keeps you interested as well. Very good read!
Once they were lovers planning to marry until Anthony Quintana turned his back on his obligation to the law, forcing Gail Connor to walk out on him. He went to Spain to forget his feeling of betrayal while she remained in Miami just as determined to overcome her feeling of deceit. She started to make a life for herself and her daughter from a previous relationship. Unbeknownst to Anthony when he left her, Gail was pregnant with his child. A chance encounter with Anthony¿s eighteen-year old daughter Angela results in Gail accepting the teen¿s boyfriend Bobby as a client. Bobby, who has been previously convicted of some petty criminal activity, is suspected of killing Roger Cresswell, owner of Cresswell Yachts, who fired the lad for allegedly stealing. One person who Bobby insists can provide him with an alibi and prove he is not guilty is Judge Nathan Harris, a person under consideration for an appointment to the US District Court. Heeding the advice of his attorney, Nathan sends his lawyer Anthony to deal with Gail. As the two former lovers closely work together to prove Bobby¿s innocence, their relationship flares to life once again. As suspense novels go, the Connor-Quintana novels rank with the best ones, but SUSPICION OIF MALICE provides the audience much more than an exciting legal thriller. The tale is a relationship drama that will remind readers of the works of Delinsky and Siddons. The investigation is fascinating but the heart and soul of the tale rests in the relationship between Gail and Anthony, two obstinate but compatible individuals. Barbara Parker shows much talent in this exciting thriller has cross-genre appeal. Harriet Klausner