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Murder Mystery Monday: Suspicion by Joseph Finder

Murder Mystery Monday's Book Review:

Suspicion by Joseph Finder

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Adult; First Edition edition (May 27, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525954600
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525954606

My Verdict: 5/5 Five out of Five Stars. 

Choices have consequences. Often our impulsive decisions lead to disaster.

I relish books that force me to answer tough moral questions along side the main character. Suspicion poses a complex situation that any of us could find ourselves in.

Would I have accepted the money?
Would I have agreed to inform on my new friend?
Like in the book Gone Baby Gone, would I have returned Amanda to her neglectful, drug abusing mom?

Suspicion, Joseph Finder’s gripping thriller begins with a father making an uncomfortable choice that spirals into a chain reaction of impossible options and deadly repercussions.  I’m a huge fan of Joseph Finder’s work, but this book varies from his usual spy thrillers. I read somewhere that in an interview, Finder said that he changed publishers because he wanted to take his writing in a different direction. I don’t know if that was truth or rumor, but he did go in a different direction. His latest thriller involves an ordinary protagonist who stumbles into a dangerous situation. Suspicion’s plot reminded me a lot of plot lines you might find in Harlan Coben’s stand alone novels. 

     The protagonist, Danny Goodman, is a single father and a writer with an upcoming deadline. He’s not on the N.Y. Times bestseller list, in fact he is quite strapped for cash. His teenage daughter, Abby attends a fancy prep school in Boston, and when the book begins, Danny receives word from the school that if he can’t make tuition by Friday’s deadline, Abby won’t be returning. She is his life and he can’t bring himself to break her heart. She is finally doing well in school, is well adjusted and has formed a bond with her new best friend.
The best friend’s father, Tom Gavin has his own reason for wanting Abby to remain in school. She’s a positive influence on his daughter.  So, Gavin offers to cover Abby’s tuition, no strings attached. 
Well … is there ever a windfall of fifty grand without strings? Danny reluctantly accepts. Bad move. Thomas Gavin is not the sort of man you want to be indebted to. 
Unbeknownst to Danny, Gavin’s wealth is linked to a deadly Mexican Cartel. Within days of the fifty grand being wired to his bank, the DEA track Danny and inform him that they can build a conspiracy case that would land him in federal prison. They throw in that once the cartel catch wind of his conspiracy indictment, he’ll be lucky to live long enough to make it to trial. His only way out — work for the feds and build a case against the nefarious financial wiz of the Mexican cartel, Thomas Gavin.
     Suspicion is chock full of moral dilemmas. The protagonist faces his first serious dilemma when he is forced to choose between his own freedom and spying on his new friend, who generously bailed him out of debt. He truly believes the DEA will indict and convict him unless he agrees to spy on Gavin and report back to the feds. You’ll have to read the book to find out what other moral choices are thrust upon Danny.  
What options does a normal, average person have when the powerful federal government owns you? As a career prosecutor, I was fascinated by this question. I may never have said it to another living sole, but I admit pondering the issue.

 Bravo to Joseph Finder for exploring such a complex and potentially real issue!

How far would you go for your child?
Where do we draw the ethical or moral line?

 Anyone who has children and even those who don’t will quickly resonate with the protagonist in Joseph Finder’s latest thriller, Suspicion.

What I liked:

  • The rich, three dimensional characters. The author has a way of making his characters seem like real live people. Danny, a down on his luck, single dad who only wants to provide the best life possible for his only child. The teenage daughter, caught up in a materialistic word full of shopping, designer clothing, and top of the line technology. Finder does a fabulous job of portraying a true teen. As a mother of teen girls, I clearly resonated with Abby. She is hooked in to her phone and other techno toys twenty four/seven. I loved that Finder shows how the teenage girl is somewhat embarrassed to bring her rich friend into their home. She is caught up in her friend’s elaborate lifestyle, being driven by a chauffeur, parents who give into her every whim, and a glamorous home with servants.  

  • The protagonist’s character arc is beautifully written.  At the beginning of the novel, Danny is sort of a wimp, but by the end of the book, his character has evolved from a wussy, indecisive, doormat to a devoted, resourceful and brave friend. He grows a backbone. Finder shows us this development with compelling action scenes, the perfect amount of deep thought internalization where the character struggles with the choices he’s made and poignant dialogue deplete with subtext.

  • The incredible way the author explores a father/daughter relationship

  • The way the author delves into modern day technology. I don’t just mean the everyday use of google, social media or how people have turned to texting as the norm for communication. Finder didn’t completely abandon his elaborate techno spy thriller, he found clever and believable ways of introducing high tech devices that allow the government and even friends or enemies a portal into our private lives. When used by the wrong person these true to life gadgets allow, even encourage unsolicited intrusion into our lives.

  • I enjoyed learning about the various methods of digital spying.

  • The quick paced plot was full of suspense. Finder’s books are like peeling back the layers of an onion — pull back a layer and your eyes flood with tears.

  • This suspenseful novel never disappointed me —  as an avid reader of crime fiction thrillers. The plot was believable (for the most part,) and the author ties in the subtle subplots with perfection.

  • Nothing in the book was too predictable. Plot twist after plot twist that I never saw coming.

  • I love the way the book blurs the line between good and evil and the good guys and bad guys. As for the main characters … no one who is you think they are and nothing turns out as you expect. Certainly we have truly evil bad dudes in the book — duh, the Mexican Cartel … loathsome men who’d  just as easily decapitate you as they would throw back a shot of tequila. But the main characters and their story evolved around truly grey areas. 

  • Nothing is as simple as black and white. There is a line and once we cross it, the line is  irrevocably blurred. This novel forces you to consider those lines and put yourself in the shoes of not only the protagonist, but other characters and ask yourself questions like, Is that really so bad? What would I do in that situation? Now that I’ve made this horribly wrong choice, how do I get myself out of it? How can I protect my family? Is it ever okay to cross the ethical line, just a little bit? Is it okay to cross it to give support your family? If not, then is it okay to cross the line to protect your family." 
  • Find me a parent who wouldn’t cross that imaginary line to protect their loved one. I bet you can’t. I hope you can’t. That’s a bold statement I just made, coming from a former career prosecutor of violent crimes. Nothing is ever black and white and we are alway surroundeds by mitigating and aggravating circumstances. 

  • Suspicion, in my opinion, is Finder’s best novel to date. It’s compelling, impossible to put down. Finder is a master of plot twists, surprise twist endings and visceral emotions. He pulls you into the characters’ world in such a way that you feel every heart thump and chills travel up the base of your neck as you sit on the edge of your seat wondering how in the hell the character will escape his latest predicament.

  • The novel requires us to suspend belief, but then again what great thriller doesn’t? The author sets it up so that I was invested enough in the story and the characters, that I was willing to suspend belief.

  • There were times when I felt like shouting at the protagonist to do something else! He made some idiotic choices.

  • I found one part of the plot completely unbelievable. I can’t imagine anyone not investigating the so called predicament with the DEA. Sure, Danny, made one visit to an old school chum, lawyer, but that was it. He never attempted to call the DEA’S main office. He never spoke to another lawyer. Never demanded to speak to a supervisory agent or the U.S. Attorney.  He never explored any of his legal options and this felt contrived — strained. It felt like a means to justify the plot. Then again, I suppose there was no way around it — no way that would have allowed Finder to deliver this fantastic story to us. So this oversight is forgiven. Like I said, as readers, we have to be willing to suspend belief . If not we might as well read non fiction, exclusively.

As you can see my lengthy list of likes far outweighs my few, minor dislikes. Joseph Finder is a pro when it come to writing a page turning thriller. I recommend this book to anyone who likes thrillers or other crime fiction novels. You will not be disappointed.


Melissa Sugar said...

I've not read any of his books. I don't have kids, but I imagine how far I would go for them would be a really difficult moral question.

Melissa Sugar said...

Fantastic review, Melissa! I've only read one joseph finder book and it was pretty awesome. I would probably enjoy reading this, too. PS your blog is seriously the cutest ever!

Melissa Sugar said...

I would do a lot for my kid, so I can totally understand. I agree that nothing is black and white!

Melissa Sugar said...

Thanks Emily. My Disqus locked me out for a while, but I managed to get back in. It's hard to admit, but in reality, life is filled with many areas in between black and white; right and wrong, good and bad.

Melissa Sugar said...

Thanks Tammy. I'm planning a major blog revamp in 2015, but I'll have a hard time letting go of my crazy colors and patterns so they might still be here.

Melissa Sugar said...

Once I had kids, the rules all changed. I can't think of many things I wouldn't do for them.

Melissa Sugar said...

Ao visitar alguns blogs me deparei com o seu, e quero dar-lhe os parabéns por partilhar o seu saber, gostei por isso deixo aqui um convite:

Ficaria radiante se visita-se o meu blog, e leia alguma coisa, meu blog é um blog cristão que fala de diversos assuntos.

É o Peregrino E Servo.

Desejo muita paz e saúde.

Melissa Sugar said...

Great book review, very honest. I'm so glad I found and joined your blog.

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