Ballantine, Sept 2001, 23.95, 192 pp.
The Hightowers of Hightower oil may be very rich, but they are not happy. The mother Julia is a drunk; the son is a dilettante with a wife who has a single digit IQ; and the daughter believes play is weed. The patriarch, Arthur, never encouraged them to work, preferring they remain under his control until he was ready to divorce his wife and disinherit his children.
Before that could happen, Arthur is found murdered, frozen solid in the family's locked freezer. The wife is arrested because the victim's blood was on her blouse and her pearls were found in his hands. She is a heavy drunk who suffers blackouts and had no alibi. Julia hires a no name lawyer who realizes that there is a lot more to this case than meets the eye.
NATURAL SUSPECT is one story line divided by chapters with each chapter written by some very famous writers in the mystery field including Leslie Glass, Michael Palmer and John Lescroart. The chapters are numbered but no credit is given to the author (except for chapter one written by William Bernhardt) so readers will have a mystery trying to figure out which writer wrote what chapter. The chapters smoothly flow into another, but with different styles making for an interesting puzzle inside a who-done-it that turns NATURAL SUSPECT into a fine read.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner