Suspicion of Puilt: 2a Novel

Barbara Parker, Author Dutton Books $22.95 (400p) ISBN 978-0-525-93769-2

Returning in this accomplished sequel to Suspicion of Innocence, Miami attorney Gail Connor faces serious career choices. After spirited widow Althea Tillett is found dead in her kitschy Miami home, a number of local charities are positioned to benefit from her will. But Patrick Norris, Althea's nephew and Gail's old law school buddy who had dropped out to do good, suspects the will is a fake. If so, he, as Althea's only survivor, stands to gain all of the multimillion-dollar estate. Gail agrees to represent him, a decision which causes problems at her firm (where she's about to be made partner), with her lover, Anthony Quintana, and in her home life as she struggles to reconcile principle with ambition and cope with the demands of raising her 10-year-old daughter. When the police determine that Althea was murdered, Patrick becomes the prime suspect and Gail is soon searching for a forger and killer. She discovers that many interests are being protected, some of them by Miami's elite. Parker controls her narrative assuredly-she's at her best with boardroom scenes that crackle with tension-and she unabashedly goes after the big finish. While some of the characterization seems cliched, it all fits the steamy Miami setting of power and ambition. Overall, this is a breathlessly paced legal thriller with a powerful punch. Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club selections. (Mar.)