Joseph Finder’s previous ten novels have landed him on the New York Times Bestseller list, and credited in two movies (Paranoia, High Crimes). His latest, Suspicion, has the earmarks of a thriller coming to a cineplex near you, as an average Joe writer, Danny, finds himself in deep in a war between the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Mexican cartels. Like Dwayne Johnson’s Snitch, the story takes the mundane, a budding friendship between Danny’s daughter and another girl, and transforms it into a continent-wide adventure from the city of Boston to Aspen and back again.
Widower Danny Goodman’s adventure begins, as Finder writes, “with a quick handshake and a friendly smile.” His daughter, Abby, is enrolled in a snooty private school, but secretly, his income has dried up as his writing inspiration goes dim. Not only can’t he pay for the school trip abroad, but he lacks the means to pay the current tuition.
Enter Tom Galvin, with a forceful offer of substantial money that Danny desperately needs, all in return for Abby’s continued friendship with Galvin’s daughter, Jenna. Sure, it’s enough to shame Goodman, but he doesn’t really have a choice, if he doesn’t want to deny his daughter her dream.
So far, there’s not much to see here, right? But if you’ve read enough of these types of stories or watched television, you know there will be “the catch.”
The catch comes in the form of two shadowy agents who announce that Danny must keep tabs on Galvin, providing them information, pictures, etc. unless he wants to be brought up on charges. Galvin is an American money launderer for a Mexican drug cartel, and the DEA is after him. Danny refuses, seeks legal counsel, and finally, faced with no other options, agrees in various stages to spy on Galvin. It only gets worse from there.
Imagine yourself, a regular joe, thrown out of your element into a world where everything seems stacked against you, you don’t know who to trust, and your family is all you have left. What will you do? What lines would you cross? What would you do to get your life back?
Finder’s writing is quick, witty, and exciting. The tension for the reader builds, palpably, even as the playing field is constantly shifting. Who is trustworthy? Who is not? Who is good, who is bad, and who is…stuck somewhere in the middle? We want Goodman to extricate himself from his predicament; we want there to be justice for him in the face of the situation where he’s really done nothing morally wrong. But we’re kept unbalanced, and we don’t know until the very end who will survive and who will fall.
We have our suspicions.