Friday, January 25, 2013

Crime of Privilege

Crime of Privilege by Walter Walker
Digital galley provided by Random House via NetGalley
Description from Goodreads:
In the tradition of Scott Turow, William Landay, and Nelson DeMille, Crime of Privilege is a stunning thriller about power, corruption, and the law in America—and the dangerous ways they come together.

A murder on Cape Cod. A rape in Palm Beach.

All they have in common is the presence of one of America’s most beloved and influential families. But nobody is asking questions. Not the police. Not the prosecutors. And certainly not George Becket, a young lawyer toiling away in the basement of the Cape & Islands district attorney’s office. George has always lived at the edge of power. He wasn't born to privilege, but he understands how it works and has benefited from it in ways he doesn't like to admit. Now, an investigation brings him deep inside the world of the truly wealthy—and shows him what a perilous place it is.

Years have passed since a young woman was found brutally slain at an exclusive Cape Cod golf club, and no one has ever been charged. Cornered by the victim’s father, George can’t explain why certain leads were never explored—leads that point in the direction of a single family—and he agrees to look into it.

What begins as a search through the highly stratified layers of Cape Cod society, soon has George racing from Idaho to Hawaii, Costa Rica to France to New York City. But everywhere he goes he discovers people like himself: people with more secrets than answers, people haunted by a decision years past to trade silence for protection from life’s sharp edges. George finds his friends are not necessarily still friends and a spouse can be unfaithful in more ways than one. And despite threats at every turn, he is driven to reconstruct the victim’s last hours while searching not only for a killer but for his own redemption

My Take: 

This fast-paced book is told from George Beckett's point of view. The book begins on the evening of the crime that George witnessed and tells his side of the story. It is clear from the start that George is "a friend of a friend" and hadn't really met the illustrious Gregory family before this night. George is just a pretty typical college kid - he's not too wealthy, he is on the fringes of the wealth and power, he knows friends of these people, but he doesn't really feel that he belongs among them. Unfortunately, for George, he makes a cowardly decision and has to deal with the consequences of this choice. The interesting thing is that he actually benefits from this decision in many ways, but the choice has it's down side as well. He is plagued by guilt and is also threatened by the family of the victim of the crime. Years later, George is working in the basement of the District Attorney's office on Cape Cod; keeping his head down and trying not to cause trouble when he is approached by the father of the girl who was murdered years ago and whose murder has never been solved. In an attempt to redeem himself and bring the guilty person to justice, George begins the long and dangerous investigation into the murder.

I really enjoyed this book. I loved the setting and the author seems to be very familiar with the area and describes it beautifully. This book had me hooked from the very beginning. George isn't the best person in the world, but I felt empathy for him. He made some bad decisions, but he was young and scared and intimidated. I did like that he felt actual guilt and remorse and finally decided to attempt to redeem himself and bring the guilty party to justice. 

The power and influence that the Gregory family wields is explained and described very well through the book. I thought that the way the locals felt about the family was well done as well. There always seems to be certain factions trying to undermine each other. The way power can influence and change people is another  prominent issue in the book. While reading, I couldn't help but think that the Kennedy family must have been a model for the handsome, wealthy, popular, political Gregory family since they also are from the same area. They are so famous and prominent in the American mind that they are who we think of when given these kinds of descriptions.

I kept trying to figure out how the book was going to end and what would happen to George - would he cave and drop his investigation or would he get framed for it or any number of other possibilities occurred to me while reading. This was a super fast read because I just could not put my kindle down. The last line of the book had such an impact on me. I wasn't expecting it and it made me have to go back and really think about everything in the book again.

I would highly recommend Crime of Privilege to anyone who enjoys fast-paced, political, crime stories. 

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