By Joe Sharkey
while rookie FBI agent Mark Putnam bought his first task in 1987, it was once the fruits of a lifelong dream, if now not the main fascinating place. Pikeville, Kentucky, is excessive in Appalachian coal nation, an outpost rife with lawlessness relationship again to the Hatfields and McCoys. As a emerging celebrity within the bureau, however, Putnam soon was cultivating paid informants and busting drug jewelry and financial institution robbers. but if one informant fell in love with him, ardour and responsibility may collide with tragic results.
A coal miner’s daughter, Susan Smith was once a tender, appealing, suffering unmarried mom. She used to be additionally a drug consumer occasionally defined as a con artist, thief, liar. eventually, Putnam gave in to Smith’s relentless pursuit. but if he ended the affair, she waged a crusade of vengeance that threatened to wreck him. whilst finally she faced him with a stunning statement, a violent scuffle ensued, and Putnam, in a burst of out of control rage, fatally strangled her.
although he had every thing essential to escape with murder—a spotless attractiveness, a sufferer with a number of enemies, and the safety of the bureau’s impenetrable shield—his moral sense wouldn’t let it. plagued by a yr of guilt and deception, Putnam ultimately led specialists to Smith’s is still. this is often the tale of what occurred prior to, in the course of, and after his startling confession—an account that “should take its position at the darkish shelf of the simplest American actual crime” (Newsday).
Revised and up to date, this publication additionally comprises photographs and a brand new epilogue by way of the author.
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Extra resources for Above Suspicion
So his wife had called the special agent in charge in Louisville to point that out, but she was told that the assignment was firm. “Tell him the Pikeville office can be a career-maker if he handles himself well,” she was told. Resigned to labor night and day to do just that, Mark reported to work on a Monday morning in late February 1987. The Pikeville FBI office was a tiny room on the ground-floor front of the federal building, with a window that looked out on Pikeville’s sleepy Main Street.
Broken trees and shattered boulders lay scattered on the site in huge heaps. Staring in wonder, they drove past and started another steep climb. Kathy frowned at a Triple-A road map, but it was clear there was no real choice except to go straight ahead on the winding two-lane. There weren’t any intersections, and few pull-offs. But after a while, they saw evidence of a settlement: unpainted little frame houses set onto shelves of land hacked into the hills; tumbledown bungalows and rust-streaked trailers pushed up close against the highway, as if waiting to pull out into traffic.
Kenneth liked cocaine and booze. Susan preferred pills, which were readily available in the region, where many doctors ran “pain management” clinics catering to patients on welfare, disability, Medicaid, and Medicare. The four-room bungalow just across the river where Susan, Kenneth, and the two children lived had long been a social center for the disaffiliated, a place to drop by, borrow clothes, drink beer, smoke cigarettes, or snort cocaine at the kitchen table, and, for those so inclined, crash for the night on the couch.
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