Area of Suspicion

Area of Suspicion is one of MacDonald’s truly underrated thrillers. He starts this one off in noir style with the key protagonist Gevan Dean partying on the Florida coast and living off his dividends from the family industrial concern. Then, it is slowly pieced out to the reader that Gevan has been in self-imposed exile for four years after catching his younger brother with his fiancé, Niki Webb. He left everything behind including running the company with his heart and his pride shattered. But now with his brother dead, a lawyer has arrived wanting Gevan to sign over his proxy vote to his brother’s widow.

It’s a great set up as Gevan returns unheralded to the small midwestern town where the factory their grandfather started still has a commanding presence. Gevan feels guilt for running away and leaving it to his brother who was never really up to running the company. Gevan wonders about how his brother died and how the solution was so neat and clean and tied up with a bow. And he doesn’t know how he can deal with Niki who he has hated for four long years but still find’s irresistible.

MacDonald expertly weaves these themes together and these questions linger even as the bulk of the book is about the sides jockeying for the upcoming vote for control of the company. In four years, Ken has allowed outsiders to insinuate themselves into the business and drive out long time employees all in the name of efficiency. Something is really not right in the Stare of Denmark and for much of the book you sense Gelvan circling around the answer and rarely come close to answering the riddle. An absolutely terrific thriller.


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