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Above Suspicion

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  2,358 ratings  ·  203 reviews
A harrowing account of crime and conscience that exposes the dark side of the nation's top law-enforcement agency and the complex workings of the human heart. When rookie FBI agent Mark Putnam's illicit involvement with an informant turns into a fatal attraction, he kills in a fit of passion, unwittingly committing the "perfect" crime. A movie based on the book, starring E ...more
Hardcover, 284 pages
Published November 1st 1993 by Simon & Schuster
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Average rating 4.04  · 
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 ·  2,358 ratings  ·  203 reviews

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Sep 29, 2019 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: True crime fans.
“A lie can go around the world twice before the truth gets its socks on.”
― Joe Sharkey, Above Suspicion: An Undercover FBI Agent, an Illicit Affair, and a Murder of Passion

This will be a tough book to review. On the one hand, I am awed by the writing here and by how much research must have gone into writing it. On the other hand, I had a very difficult time with aspects of it for my own reasons.

This is a true story about an FBI agent..Mark Putnam who is arrested for murder. If I have my facts s
♥ Marlene♥
Mar 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Finished last night. I have now read both books and they were so different but I give more credit to Joe Sharkey than to Aphrodite Jones. Her only source seemed to be the sister of Susan, Shelby who has not even seen the 2 together (Mark with Susan)

In her book it said that Mark had an affair with her for 2 years so nearly from the beginning but in this book it is said that it was not near that long. Not sure why he would lie about that. Okay perhaps for his wife but his wife supported him throug
Linda Strong
Jan 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Mark Putnam is a rookie FBI Agent. A week after graduation he is sent to Pikeville, Kentucky for his first assignment. Pikeville is not anything like what he and his wife, Kathy, were expecting. We're talking mountain folk, drug rings, and lots of miscellaneous crimes.

But all this is okay with Putnam. He was a man bent on becoming a great federal agent and he's willing to put in the time and effort to reach his goal. Meanwhile, Kathy is a stay at home mom with their young daughter, Danielle.

Apr 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Interesting true crime story which is well written. Tells the story of a cop who let ambition rule his life which eventually brings him down both personally and professionally, along with others close to him. Emotional and captivating, worth the time to read.
Jan 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing

This is one of the most tragic stories I have ever read and it is based on court transcripts, police records and interviews. I think the author did a brilliant job of telling this story. I feel sorry for almost everybody involved. Mark and his wife Kathy move to rural Eastern Kentucky in Pikeville in 1988 where Mark gets his first assignment to the FBI as an agent. The office is so small there is only Mark and one other FBI Agent. FBI agents get informers and pay th
Andy Marshall
Jan 10, 2018 rated it it was ok
Good lord, was the author this guy’s defense attorney or something? He ascribes noble motives and alleged thoughts of remorse to someone who beat to death a woman half his size, dumped her body, and lied about it. But it’s not really lying (according to the author) because the subject “finds himself saying” or doing things repeatedly against his better judgment. Please.
Valerity (Val)

I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book for review by Netgalley and Open Road Integrated Media.

I liked this True Crime book by Joe Sharkey set in the Kentucky mountains. Fresh from the FBI academy is Mark Putnam, who is excited to be starting his first new posting, despite the fact that it's in a really small office in Pikeville, Kentucky (or BFE). He's always lived a life with good morals, thanks to his father's example, and he wants to make him proud
Erin Kelly
Oct 02, 2018 rated it liked it
This is a compelling story, but the author takes unnecessary artistic liberties and the favoritism toward Putnam is astonishing. We are told repeatedly that Putnam is an abiding guy, led to believe that he is kind-hearted, and reminded again and again how he is wracked with guilt. This is the same man who, when ultimately questioned, said (according to the author) that he “planned to confess but wanted to make them sweat for it.” (And then doesn’t confess in that session at all).

I’m not sure wh
Jul 26, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Audiobook----------- Reading the Goodreads synopsis, you would think that this true crime story was in league with Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood". Not so-- hardly any crime-- and just flat out boring.
I guess that there is a movie from this. Unless screen play is divergent from the book, it should only be shown on the Lifetime Network.
Oct 17, 2018 rated it did not like it
According to the author, this is the tragic story of a family man/FBI-agent, whose life is destroyed when he is goaded by his informant/mistress into murdering her, dumping her body and lying to everyone about it until he finally, heroically, confesses. Knowing it was written like 25 years ago didn't stop my head from exploding with uncontrollable rage. Utterly baffled by the high rating on GR.
Jan 29, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
I just couldn't keep reading about these stupid people. Got to 30%, skipped to 50% and read a little more, then just gave up. I don't care.
Mar 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well-told human tragedy. Even though it's non-fiction, it felt Shakespearean/Dennis Lehanean at certain moments--people making bad choice after bad choice until their fate is sealed. Would pair well with Evidence of Love: A True Story of Passion and Death in the Suburbs in my imaginary college class called Gender Studies in True Crime.

I'd bet that some readers will have a problem with the way Mark is depicted versus Susan and Kathy. Sometimes I had a problem with it, but at the same time, I res
Jan 29, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: true-crime
A reader starting this book, who did not know it was a true crime story, might imagine it was a comedy. There's all these crimes going on in a rural area where everyone knows who's committing them; and all these informants being paid big bucks by the FBI, where everyone knows, including the criminals, who is getting paid to talk; and most of that money seems to be going to buying drugs and having a good time. And on and on it all goes.

Enter Mark Putnam, a rookie FBI agent, who gets caught up in
Jan 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
OK, so I am trying to become part of the "Make America Read Again" initiative so hopefully I will write some more reviews in 2019. I didn't read enough in 2018, which makes me cranky. This was my first completed book of 2019. I honestly don't know why I chose this one. I think I was looking for a book to send my Dad for his Birthday and he likes crime/thrillers... I read the review for this on on amazon and was intrigued by it. Also there will be a movie coming out soon based on this story that ...more
May 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: true-crime
True crime.

Journalist Sharkey interviewed some of the lead
characters, colleagues, and family + friends of
Mark & Kathy ( M+K) and Susan. These 3 took
up the focus of the story. Starkey's story was tight
and had some suspense.

Mark graduated from the FBI Academy & the FBI
regional Pikeville KY office (in coal country) served
as his 1st assignment. The office had space for only
2 agents. Their Pikeville supervisor was stationed
in Lexington KY. Mark, a former college soccer player,
jogged daily &
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 24, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I gave this three stars mostly because the author used to work for The Wall Street Journal (although in his bio "The" was lowercase and he should know that's wrong), and because it's clear he did a ton of research. Maybe too much, as he seemed to include every detail, no matter how inconsequential, and the book dragged in spots (do we need to know all about Susan's pallbearers?).
The writing is good though (can't really say the same for the copy editing) and I liked the way all the events were la
Tami Campbell
I wanted to like this book. Too much detail that didn’t seem relevant to the story or was repetitive. The story just couldn’t get my attention and really didn’t get interesting until I was about 75% finished.
Dec 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
ARC for review, obviously a re-release of an older title, EPD, January 17, 2017.

Review to be published following publication.
Jul 21, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As others have said in their reviews, there really is no "bad guy" in this story. Sure there was a murder but once you learn the details and the circumstances surrounding it you'll understand both the victim and the perp are empathetic characters. There is no winning for anyone in this story and if you read/listen to the epilogue you'll discover even more bad news about some of the people in this story.

The plot sounds very Hollywood and occasionally I had to remind myself that this is a true st
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Crime doesn't pay, even when you're in law enforcement.
Sep 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a n excellent book! Well written and engaging. I had no idea that it was a true story until I got to the end.
Gege wolf
Mar 02, 2020 rated it it was ok
sad ending
Eileen Cosenza
Meh--I think this book could have been shortened quite a bit. It spent way too much time on the history of the area, people, etc. Maybe it was just not written well. The story kept me reading, but it was painful in parts and slow-moving for the first half.
Nov 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book was a well-told story about an FBI agent who gets in over his head with the locals. The author did a good job of describing the players without going overboard.
Dec 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was an excellent read. The author did a great job of keeping me interested in the story. It's a very sad book, but I had a hard time putting it down. I highly recommend it!
Bonnie Kernene
Above Suspicion is about the murder of Susan Daniels Smith by former FBI agent Mark Putnam. It was a really good book, very well written with well defined characters and a good storyline. It was very detailed and researched well. It was fair to both the victim and the killer. The victim was not overlooked. I will read any book written by this author. He is a great author, taking care to write the story well.

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley for an honest review.
Ronnie Cramer
May 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The bizarre story of a rookie FBI agent who goes off the rails during his assignment in Pikeville, Kentucky. Far superior to Aphrodite Jones' FBI KILLER, which covers the same ground. Originally published in 1993 and updated this year (no doubt to coincide with the release of a movie version).
Oct 27, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
In the afterward, Sharkey explains that he stuck with this story (and it with him) because he found the events particularly haunting. I can see why. This is a character driven story, one with all the archetypes of classic drama locked into a slow tragedy.
- Our Hero is a faultless scion of New England middle class respectability, and has impeccable morals.
- Our Angel in the House is his wife, who overcame a traumatic past to find redemption in her family.
- Our Snake is the opposite of the Her
Jan 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First published in 1993, this current publication has the addition of follow-up notes by the author updating the status of those involved and his observations during his return visit to the area of Pikeston, Kentucky.
Mark Putnam and his family accept his first “G-man” assignment in the dreary town of Pikeston Kentucky. His wife, Kathy, is very supportive and patient with the extensive hours required for him to make a good first impression. Part of his job is using informants, one of whom is a y
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Joe Sharkey’s work appears in major national and international publications. For 19 years, until 2015, he was a columnist for the New York Times — for 16 years doing the weekly “On the Road” column on business travel, and before that the weekly “Jersey” column for three years. He is currently a columnist with Business Jet Traveler magazine, and an adjunct professor of journalism at the University ...more

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