Kirkus Reviews QR Code
AFRAID OF THE DARK by James Grippando

AFRAID OF THE DARK

By James Grippando

Pub Date: March 22nd, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-06-184028-9
Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Grippando brings back Miami attorney Jack Swyteck to deal with a cold case that wasn’t.

When 16-year-old McKenna Mays was brutally murdered, everyone knew who did it. In particular, Sergeant Vince Paulo, Miami PD, knew. At the behest of McKenna’s dad, he’d been engaged in a doomed attempt to watch over her, arriving at the Mays house with time only to ask for a name and was not surprised at the one she managed to supply. By all reports Jamal Wakefield, an ex-boyfriend, had not taken kindly to rejection. Then, moments after McKenna’s death-bed accusation, the Mays house blew apart, an explosion that destroyed Vince Paulo’s sight as well. And that, too—the deadly home-made bomb—was credited to Jamal. So no mystery, no bothersome unanswered questions about motivation, but also no Jamal. He’d vanished. Flash forward three years. Series hero Jack finds himself at Gitmo, defending Prisoner Number 977, who turns out to be the very same Jamal, who, interestingly enough, turns out to have a seemingly rock-solid alibi covering the time he was supposed to be murdering McKenna and blinding Vince: incarceration by federal authorities. Suddenly, McKenna’s homicide becomes a case of a different temperature, inasmuch as Jamal has so unexpectedly climbed out from under, and inasmuch as McKenna’s actual killer is presumably still at large. Now there are questions, bothersome indeed. How, for instance, to explain McKenna’s fateful I.D.? Precisely what had landed Jamal in Gitmo, and why does he refuse to talk about it, even to his own lawyers? All that is for Jack to sort out, a task not beyond him of course, provided he can stay alive long enough.

By the skin of its teeth, Grippando’s 18th (Money to Burn, 2010, etc.) survives one of those evil-incarnate villains whose lack of nuance is an invitation to disbelief.