Suspects Summary (Thomas Berger)

Thomas Berger


(Masterpieces of American Literature)

While several of Berger’s novels have been considered genre parodies by critics, Suspects seems to be an almost straightforward police procedural in the tradition of Ed McBain, shifting back and forth between the police investigating a brutal murder and the aimless life of their prime suspect. The novel lacks the irony and humor of most of Berger’s efforts while demonstrating his interest in storytelling as an end in itself. The seemingly effortless, realistic, often mundane dialogue recalls such crime writers as George V. Higgins.

Donna Howland and her three-year-old daughter are killed while Larry Howland is at a motel with his boss’s wife. After initially suspecting Larry, the police turn their attention to his younger half brother, Lloyd, fired from his job at a supermarket shortly before the murders. The narrative follows the unstable Lloyd on his rambles as he is befriended by Molly, a long-distance truck driver. When he learns of the deaths, Lloyd confronts Larry, whom he suspects, but is arrested himself.

Berger also follows the investigation of Moody, a suggestively named homicide detective, with glimpses of his personal life, including heavy drinking and two failed marriages. Moody is disgusted to learn that LeBeau, his partner, is having an affair with Daisy O’Connor, a police officer whom Moody has known since she was a child because her father was his partner. That the Howland murders, as well as a string of...

(The entire section is 481 words.)


(Masterpieces of American Literature)

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