Grippando grabs for the brass ring in his second galloping Napoleon-of-crime fantasy (The Pardon, 1994)--and brings it about halfway home. Somebody's decided to start selling Mike Posten, a Pulitzer alumnus at the Miami Tribune, the hottest crime tips of the decade: sending him the names of each new target of a cunning killer who's cutting out his victims' tongues--and sending them after they're already dead but before the bodies are discovered. It's the killer himself, insist the FBI when Mike asks if they'll bankroll his stories. But task force coordinator Victoria Santos doesn't think so, and like Mike, she sticks her neck way, way out in support of her theory that the killer's being dogged by a second man, an informant who knows his modus operandi so well that he can predict what he'll do next. Bucking the reservations the Tribune--and the FBI--have about spending big bucks for tips that may be coming straight from the killer and financing his getaway, Mike and Victoria work to piece together profiles of both the men they think they're looking for, even though the killer's profile, which combines hallmarks of both organized and disorganized serial killers, leaves them wondering if he might be a schizoid tattling on himself after all. So far, so edgy--until Grippando, halfway through, lifts the veil to expose the identities of both killer and informant, the relationship between them, and the motive for the ghoulish crimes, and the story turns into a cat-and-mouse game with a cat who's a lot less scary (and convincing) once he's been explained away, and a new series of threats (breaking up Mike's fragile family for good, taking an ocean liner hostage) that scream TV movie. Even the flatter second half, once Grippando's shown all his cards, is enough to keep you tearing through the pages--but now you already know what you're going to find.