Suspect turns the victim-harasser relationship on its head. This legal thriller exposes the vulnerability of the legal system where someone with an agenda can use it to their advantage.
The story has Lucy Gomez, the police chief of Highland Isle being accused by three male officers of soliciting sex in exchange for promotions. Unfortunately, it seems that any woman in law enforcement must gain respect by walking a fine line between camaraderie and respect. Now accused, she hires Rik Dudek as her defense attorney in the federal grand jury investigation. She insists that the accusations against her are part of an ugly smear campaign to destroy her career and reputation. Working alongside Rik is Clarice “Pinky” Granum, a licensed PI. Both she and Rik must sort through all the lies, secrets, and claims to find what is true and what is not.
This legal thriller has intense courtroom scenes and shows the process of how an investigation is conducted. Although more of a plot driven story than a character driven story readers will turn the pages to find the outcome.
Elise Cooper: How did you get the idea for the story?
Scott Turow: Pinky was a character in the last novel and jumped off the page there. Years ago, when I was a prosecutor, I conducted two police investigations of a police beating. After I left the US Attorney’s office I was hired as a Special Prosecutor to investigate a suburban police department of Chicago where officers were stealing recovered evidence. I have seen how the disciplinary hearings work and used my experience to write scenes.
EC: Why did you make the police chief accused of sexual harassment a female?
ST: I can remember a whippet little thrill when I thought of it. It seemed to me it would turn a lot of things on their head. I thought it was provocative and interesting. The law does not look different when the gender roles are reversed. Pinky says that she does not understand how a female chief can force guys six inches taller than her. The defense attorney and Pinky’s boss replies there would be no question if the sides were reversed. There is still an imbalance of power.
EC: To me, it does not matter the size of someone but their position of power in a company?
ST: She was the Chief who made overtures. It was not right. At no point does anyone tell her it was a good idea. The Chief does not think it was especially wrong. I do not think people would be as quick to accept that if she was a he. There is hypocrisy because she was supposed to think about it. She should not walk away from it. It was wrong. People will see what they are inclined to see. There is no universe on what she did is not a crime.
EC: How would you describe “The Ritz?”
ST: I have never written anyone like him before who is bad to the bone. He is Nietzshe-like. He is such an inscrutable human being. His gratification comes from proving he is the smartest guy in the room. He has feelings for his ex-wife but has no moral compass and enjoys the power over everybody. This is another demonstration of how smart he is. Lucy found a way to exert power over him, which really angers him.
EC: How would you describe the Chief, Lucy?
ST: She thought of herself as one of the guys, on an equal footing. As a female officer she had to put up with all the jokes and had to be thin-skinned. She is smart, defiant, kind, and a liar. I admire her but she is a mixed character. A reformer of a corrupt department who at times plays the system. People in the city of Chicago come into office and then get worn down by the corruption. This is Lucy. Her instincts after twelve years are less defined than they once were.
EC: How would you describe Pinky and will you write a series?
ST: I have no commitment to write another Pinky novel. She is brass, instinctive, never follows the rules, has her own internal sense of right and wrong. She believes that the ends justify the means. Pinky is coming to terms with the fact that she is different than anyone else, including not looking for a partner. The pandemic was a great time for her because she does not like to deal with people. She is successful at her job.
EC: What was the relationship between the Chief and Pinky?
ST: Pinky hero-worshipped her and wanted her approval. She wanted the Chief to be of a certain ideal and she was not. Pinky is shocked that the Chief cares what Pinky thinks of her, but she is very honest with her.
EC: How about Rik?
ST: He is the most uncompromised character of the book. He is a good lawyer and dedicated to his client. He does not sell himself out. He is a good boss. As a younger person he fell on hard times. He is a good guy. He knows that clients have done wrong, do not tell the truth, and are trying to hide it. They undermine their lawyers with their process.
EC: Chapter titles as sentences of first paragraph?
ST: This is the first book in which I did it. If you go through my books readers will not find it. It felt right here, to move the reader from where they were in the last chapter to where they are going in this chapter.
EC: Any movies/TV shows on the horizon?
ST: David Kelley who has optioned the book before this, for TV, sees it as a series. Suspect was also optioned by him. Apple TV Plus is remaking Presumed Innocent, in which David Kelley is involved with J.J. Abrams. This is green lighted and is in production now. They were very faithful to who my characters were. Even though I was the architect of that universe, Kelley had the characters doing things I never expected. The writer is always the last to know. There will be changes. It will be eight episodes and the shooting starts in January. I would guess that it will go on the air in 2023.
EC: How about your next book?
ST: I am working on it. It will be out probably two years from now. I want to get further down the road before I talk about it. This is my own little playground and I do not want to allow anyone else in until it is more fixed.