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May 17 , 2011

Suggestion of Death


"Ripped from the headlines," this murder mystery involves pedophile priests, AIDS and "Big Law" lawyers with a unique narrator. The horrors begin when the narrator sees a peculiar message on the law firm's monitors: Prepare to die. It is a suggestion that someone will die. And someone does: a much beloved retired partner, David St. Clair, beaten to death in his home. Then the firm's managing partner, Michael Bolden, disappears. The unnamed narrator, whose gender is also never revealed, is a former prosecutor who has in the past helped the police solve crimes. The narrator starts by investigating former partners, and young lawyers, who have been dismissed from the firm under a cloud. David St. Clair had been the managing partner when they were fired. One suspect is an abusive lawyer who stole money from the firm. Another is a young lawyer dismissed for raiding client funds to underwrite a gambling habit. The narrator talks to a young man, Matt Moran, who was framed by Michael for sexual harrassment, and then dismissed. The narrator brings into the investigation another partner at the firm, in order to bounce ideas around. Melanie is a chain-smoking, outspoken iconoclast, a good foil for the staid narrator. Both the narrator and Mel think Michael is somehow involved. Then another firm partner is murdered, this time in the firm's main conference room. Jud Levy's heart has been ripped from his chest, although the cause of death is a single gunshot to the head. Are the murders related? Jud helped Michael ruin the reputation of Matt Moran. Did Matt kill Jud? Anatole, known as Ant, Michael's best friend and a public service lawyer, is brutally beaten outside the firm's offices. The narrator discovers that there is a connection among David, Michael and Ant. Each in some way has been involved with the Blessed Brothers of Mercy, a teaching order of monks. David has been a big contributor to the BBM, and Michael and Ant had each been part of the order for a period of time. The narrator meets with the head of the order, who reveals that the order has been the site of rampant sexual abuse for many years. Ant was investigating the abuse and the abusers for the diocese. Michael had been abused. He had recently discovered that he had acquired AIDS from his abuser. With the dry wit of Robert Parker's Spencer, Suggestion of Death explores passions in the hallowed halls of a law firm, from the inside.

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