ULTERIOR MOTIVES: The Killing and Dark Legacy of Tycoon Henry Kyle by Suzanne Finstad

ULTERIOR MOTIVES: The Killing and Dark Legacy of Tycoon Henry Kyle

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From Houston writer Finstad (Heir Not Apparent, 1984), a highly readable, if not quite riveting, rendition of the Henry Kyle murder trial, wherein the son of Texas tycoon Henry Kyle stands trial for murder, and the outcome depends on unlocking the dark, violent past of a rugged and glamorous Jekyll and Hyde. In the early hours of July 22, 1983, the L.A.P.D. arrives at Henry Kyle's Bel-Air mansion to find the transplanted Texas millionaire nude on the dining-room floor, dead from a bullet in the back. Veteran Det. Grogan takes the case, and within two months Kyle's eldest son, 20-year-old Ricky (who was shot in the elbow and claimed that he and his father were shot by a burglar) is charged with murder. The key to the case seems to be Ricky's half-sister, Jackie: Ricky allegedly confessed to her on the day of the funeral over a pipe of free-base cocaine (Jackie's addiction). The unstable Jackie may be a co-conspirator, since Grogan traces the murder pistol to an old boyfriend of Jackie's (she claims Ricky's brother Scott stole it); she may also be lying to get her brother divested of his share of the estate. (The challenge to the will introduces a mysterious secret wife, Vicki Yang Kyle.) The issue that emerges in the trial, however, is the Jekyll-and-Hyde--character of Henry Kyle. To outsiders, Kyle is a dashing self-made man, a poor boy who made it big, a Marine hero and lady's man (Zsa Zsa Gabor attests to his charms). However, as Ricky's crack defense team proves, Kyle is violent with his loved ones--and he may have fired first. The case ends in mistrial; at a new trial, Ricky is sent to prison for involuntary manslaughter, the minimum sentence allowed. Not Thomas Thompson's Blood and Money, whose glamour and crackling suspense Finstad fails to match--in large part because the players here are all victims--but, overall, a durable, if uninspired, read.

Pub Date: Aug. 18th, 1987
Publisher: Morrow