Suspect (Kindle County 12) by Scott Turow

Sex in the county…

😐 😐

Pinky Granum is working as an investigator in the law office of her step-uncle (I think), Rik Dudek. Rik has been hired to defend the local police chief who has been accused of soliciting sex from junior officers in exchange for promotions. The twist is that the police chief is female, Lucia Gomez, and her alleged victims are males. Lucia claims the allegations are being co-ordinated by an old adversary of hers, a man known as Ritz, who was once her boss until she was gradually promoted to become his boss instead. Now Ritz is a rich and successful property developer, and Lucia thinks he’s out for revenge because she had him sacked from the police force. Two of the officers who are accusing her also work part-time for Ritz, so there’s an obvious connection. Pinky takes a liking to Lucia and throws herself into trying to prove that Ritz is behind the accusations. But meantime Pinky’s also concerned about her neighbour – a newcomer who’s behaving very strangely, in her opinion, so in her spare time she sets out to investigate him too.

In the previous book in the series it became clear that the major recurring character, Sandy Stern, was making his final appearance, and in fact I assumed it would be the last of the Kindle County books. Turow has decided to continue them by making Pinky the central character in this one – Sandy’s granddaughter who has appeared in a secondary role in the last couple of books. Was this a wise decision? I’m not sure. While I never feel authors should restrict themselves to writing only about people like themselves, I feel it’s a stretch for a man in his 70s to successfully inhabit the head of a young female character in a society that has changed so dramatically since his own youth. Of course I’m also at the other end of the age scale from Pinky, so it makes it hard for me to judge how well he’s pulled it off. Personally, I found Pinky utterly tedious and stereotyped, to be honest – bi-sexual (of course), foul-mouthed, Mohawk hairdo, voraciously sexually promiscuous, ex-drug addict, thrown out of the police college, covered in tattoos (or ink, as the cool people apparently say), unable to form permanent relationships, etc., etc. Exactly the type of character, in fact, that has driven me away from contemporary fiction in recent years into the welcoming arms of vintage and the classics.

Scott Turow

However, the Pinky character wasn’t my only problem with the book. The Lucia plotline is sordid in the extreme. While she may or may not have been forcing unwanted sex on her subordinates, she was certainly having sex with them and we hear far more about the sleazy details of that than this reader wanted to know. There have been earlier books in the series where sex played an important role in the crime or in the lives of the characters, but I don’t remember any of them being as graphic as this or as overwhelmingly consumed by the subject. (Or maybe I’ve just grown more prudish. It seems to me men, or at least male writers, of a certain age become increasingly obsessed by sex, while women of the same age grow less interested in it as a literary subject as they grow older.) I feel that Turow has tried to appear modern by making his two main female characters behave like the worst of men – one considering everyone she meets in terms of suitability as a sexual conquest and the other being the sexually predatory boss. Both are stock male characters who have merely had their genders flipped. I didn’t believe in either of them.

I considered abandoning it about a quarter of the way in but, because I’ve loved this series for so long, I decided to persevere. I wish I hadn’t. I can only hope that Turow doesn’t repeat this experiment. If he is going to continue the series, I hope he brings forward a different character to take the lead role next time, as he has done from time to time in other books, and finds a rather less salacious plot.

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Swift Press.

Amazon UK Link

41 thoughts on “Suspect (Kindle County 12) by Scott Turow

  1. Oh, I am sorry to hear you didn’t like this more, FictionFan. I like Turow’s work quite a lot (‘though I haven’t read this one, I admit). I’ve found his work quite compelling, and I wondered what this one would be like. Hmmm….. I know what you mean about the lead character; if I don’t care for the lead character, or if that person’s thinking and motivations don’t make sense, I find it hard to be drawn into a book, too. And as far as lurid details go, I prefer my books without them, too. I think we’ve all got enough imagination to ‘fill in the gaps’ without needing to be told…

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    • As you know, I usually love Turow but I’m afraid Pinky is no replacement for Sandy Stern as far as I’m concerned. Sometimes it feels as if an author doesn’t realise when a series is “finished” – for me the last book rounded off the Kindle Country series perfectly. And I’m very tired of graphic sex – or indeed, graphic anything! – in contemporary fiction. As you say, we all have imaginations of our own!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. 😞😞😞 Sounds dreadful. I admire your perseverance though. Not my sort of book. And I hear what you’re saying about contemporary fiction. I rarely read contemporary books these days or watch many contemporary TV shows.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I struggled to find enough contemporary books to fill my awards posts this year, and have abandoned more of them than I’ve loved. And I’m the same with contemporary TV – I nearly always prefer to watch a repeat from long ago. I’m surely it’s partly age, but it’s mostly cultural, and I can’t say I feel our creative culture is improving at the moment!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve joked in the past many times that I must stop reading favourite male authors when they reach their 60s, because so many of them seem to revert to a kind of adolescent obsession with sex! It’s not a subject that ever did much for me in literary terms, and I’m certainly not growing more fond of it as I age…

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Pity. Though I have to admit I agree with you, even without reading this book! Why must a character be so off-putting? Oh well, I’d have probably abandoned the thing long before you considered doing so!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It seems that “ordinary” people are not considered worthy of being main characters these days – they all have to have quirks and issues! Pinky had enough quirks and issues to last a lifetime though! Such a pity, since normally he’s a favourite of mine but hopefully he’ll find a more interesting subject next time.

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  4. I’m sorry your love of this series had to end on such a sour note. Now I don’t feel so pressured to try and catch back up with it. (which, to be honest, wasn’t going to happen any time soon!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh no, you don’t get off that lightly! You can still read the series up to book 11 and then stop! 😉 Yes, it was a pity, but I’m afraid Pinky just didn’t work for me as a character. And hopefully he’ll find a more interesting plot next time!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve always enjoyed him, though some of his books more than others. But here I’m afraid neither the characters nor the subject matter worked for me. I “identified” far more with good old Sandy Stern, who may have had sex – I’m sure he did – but didn’t feel the need to tell me all about the mechanics of it… 😉

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  5. I would agree with your assessment. Sounds like a 20-something written from a much older male POV, one who’s out of touch, so he decided to throw in the kitchen sink of everything he’s heard about “today’s youth.” Definitely a pass.

    Liked by 1 person

    • If today’s youth are really all like Pinky, I despair for humanity! And I can never find these types admirable – society has changed, yes, but I’m not sure we really think even yet that it’s a good thing for young women to mimic the worst of male behaviour. Hope not, anyway!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’m delighted to hear that! I know society has changed but fundamentally I don’t think people have, which is why I have a lot of trouble with the characters in contemporary fiction. Especially the women who are often made to behave like men as if that is the peak of feminist aspiration!

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  6. Ugh, I know exactly what you mean by authors who try to appear modern by simple plugging in female characters who act like men. It’s of course possible for authors to write characters different from themselves but I think it has to be done thoughtfully and it sounds like it wasn’t here.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s a sort of corruption of the idea of equality as meaning “the same as”. I don’t remember feminism ever suggesting that women should try to be the same as men – we’re not, and even if we were would we want to be the same as the worst of them?? Yes, I felt he’d have been better to pick someone he understood better – he tried too hard to make Pinky have lots of what he clearly sees as “modern” characteristics, and she just ended up not feeling real.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes! That’s very much part of it. There is a certain type of male writer who seems to assume that everyone else is thinking about sex and bodily functions as much as they are. They seem to write women like this who are functionally really no different than their male characters and it always stands out as unrealistic.

        Liked by 1 person

        • As so often, I wonder why editors and publishers don’t tell them. I expect the books still sell in massive numbers, but each book will lose some long-time readers. It’s like William Boyd – I used to read every book of his but I now avoid them. Do they pick up new readers to compensate for the old ones they lose?

          Liked by 1 person

          • Sometimes I think authors get away with too much when they reach a certain level of success. As if their editors are afraid to tell them to bring their books down to fewer than 700 pages or cut back on the sexism. I’m sure they must lose readers but maybe they have enough at that point that it doesn’t matter so much to them?

            Liked by 1 person

            • Yes, the length issue is definitely one that seems to become more of a thing as an author gets more successful. JK Rowling’s last crime novel is over 1000 pages! Nothing in this world would persuade me to read that, unless every page were made of chocolate… 😉

              Liked by 1 person

            • Yes, it puts me off the whole series. I enjoyed the first book even though it was far too long too, and it was only about 500 pages! But I haven’t even added the second to my wishlist because of the length.

              Liked by 1 person

  7. I will say, even the short summary you gives here does make the female characters sound a bit unbelievable. And I totally agree that older male writers become obsessed with sex – I’m thinking John Irving, Ian MacEwan, etc.

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