In Grippando’s fast-moving 21st, an oil-rig disaster drags Florida lawyer Jack Swyteck into lawsuits against everyone in the known universe.
Since American corporations can’t enter into agreements to explore the Caribbean waters off Cuba, the Cubans themselves, partnering with Russian, Chinese and Venezuelan interests, have launched the Scarborough 8, a behemoth platform assembled in China, to search for oil deep beneath the seas. That search ends when an explosion aboard the rig kills derrick worker Rafael Lopez and 15 other workers and unleashes a massive spill American relief forces are powerless to stem. As oil slicks approach the Florida Keys, Jack, his honeymoon already interrupted when his bride, undercover agent Andie Henning, is called away for another hush-hush FBI operation, reluctantly agrees to help Rafael’s widow, Bianca, prosecute her wrongful-death suit against the owners of Scarborough 8. In the story’s irresistible middle section, Jack dukes it out in a Key West courtroom with Luis Candela, the lawyer representing Petróleos de Venezuela, who throws up one roadblock and smokescreen after another, including a stunner: Bianca can’t have been legally married to Rafael at the time of his death because he was engaged to Josefina Fuentes, a boxer he’d known since his childhood in Havana. Candela’s allegation is the cue for legal quiddities to dissolve into a wild third-act scramble for the truth that takes Jack and his old friend (and ex-client) Theo Knight on a trip to Cuba, then to the Bahamas, where Theo is framed for murder. Think nothing else can go wrong? Think again.
Perhaps the most successful of Jack’s 11 cases (Blood Money, 2013, etc.). As usual, the characters are sketched in only lightly, but readers immersed in the rewardingly complex tangle of political/legal problems sparked by the Deepwater Horizon disaster—sorry, the Scarborough 8 disaster—will never notice.