Review: Crime of Privilege

Posted 14 June, 2013 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Crime of Privilege
By: Walter Walker
Format/Source: galley courtesy of Ballentine Books via NetGalley

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 benefitted 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.

The premise of this novel caught my attention: crime and cover-ups involving a rich and influential family. I’m still on a streak of reading books that are a little more on the easy, suspense/mystery side since I have a number of tests coming up soon for my classes. I was fortunate to have been approved of a galley copy of this novel from NetGalley.

Crime of Privilege has all of the elements to create a powerful and intriguing mystery/suspense. The protagonist, George, is in the perfect position to investigate and figure out the truth given his closeness to the influential family in question. The cases in question are very much cases we hear about in the news and touches on the serious topic of violence against women and the matter of abusing public power and office. Yet despite of all this, I was rather bored with the story about a third in, which was discouraging; I only read through the rest of the novel because I was curious enough to know whether the Gregory family would be nailed for these crimes and for covering them up.

Part of my boredom stemmed from the main character. George is narrating the story and given his implication in an earlier crime involving the Gregorys (using his point of view and flashbacks), he proves to be somewhat of an unreliable narrator. This element was interesting, coupled with his notable flaws and his sense of indebtedness to Senator Gregory for getting him his job. But beyond this, George was far too…blank, passive and lacking in some sort of strong or particular characterisation to define him that would in turn compel me, the reader, like him and root for him as he investigates further.

There was also something awkward about the writing, the narration to which the story was being told. The story is already pretty dense with all of the characters coming in and out and the twists and roadblocks that crop up during the investigation; I felt that the narration didn’t help ease me into the story.

Crime of Privilege is a promising mystery and suspense but in the end felt cumbersome and flat. George elicited no sense of interest or emotion from me to continue following his story as he uncovers the truth of the girl’s murder. The writing didn’t help as George is continually tossed into false leads and directions. Other mystery fans may enjoy this novel and the writing style but Crime of Privilege left me indifferent.

Rating: ★★½☆☆

Visit the author’s profile on Mystery Writers of America || Order this book from the Book Depository

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