By Walter Walker
(Ballantine Books, $26)
Reviewed by Rose McAllister Croke
“Don’t we pay for all the things we do?” wrote Hemingway. No one knows this better than George Becket, the not-so-innocent main character in Walter Walker’s book “Crime of Privilege.”
While he wasn’t born to privilege, George understands how it works and has benefited from it through the influence of his connections. A lawyer by trade, George works in the office of the Cape and Islands district-attorney’s office — a job he acquired after he witnessed the rape of a drunken young woman by members of the Gregory family, one of Cape Cod’s most revered and influential political families.
Haunted by the fact that he did little to stop the craven attack and his subsequent testimony that exonerated the perpetrators, George spends years in denial while also seeking redemption and absolution. When approached by another man whose daughter was brutally slain nine years prior at an exclusive Cape Cold golf club, George decides to launch an investigation and opens the dusty cold case file.
Again, all leads point in the direction of a single family and reveal a massive cover up by local police and key members of his very office. Despite threats to his life and revelations that threaten to destroy his world, George is driven to reconstruct the victim’s final hours and find out who killed her.
George’s investigation takes him from Idaho to Hawaii, Costa Rica to France and New York City. Everywhere he goes, he meets people like himself — people who have more to gain by remaining silent than by speaking up, people haunted by past decisions and admissions never told, and all of whom were handsomely rewarded to protect the reputation of one family.
Riddled with a cast of deeply flawed and selfishly motivated characters, “Crime of Privilege” is a carefully crafted legal thriller that makes interesting observations about class, privilege, power, corruption and the uneven scales of justice.