In Grippando’s limp latest, what looks like unpremeditated vehicular homicide isn’t.
Twenty-something Chelsea James, exemplary wife and mom, is on her way to McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, R.I., to see her husband play what might be his last game as a minor leaguer. Ryan, “six feet three and 220 pounds of athletic ability,” is headed for “the Bigs,” the smart money says. But Chelsea never gets to the ball park, and Ryan’s can’t-miss trip to glory gets derailed when a drunk driver rams Chelsea’s car, then vanishes. Chelsea’s killed, two-year-old Ainsley, strapped securely in her car seat, is bruised, and Ryan’s shattered. He so adored his wife that he meant it literally when he said he couldn’t live without her. Three years later, Ryan, now co-host of a popular morning sports-talk radio program in Boston, has in fact managed to live without Chelsea, but clearly he’s a lesser Ryan. Gone is his baseball career and, with it, his sleep. He’s so locked into insomnia that in three years his grief counselor has been unable to pry him loose. And then suddenly, Chelsea’s death, the coldest of cold cases, heats back up. Secret agendas, long buried, become manifest; friends turn into enemies; conspiracies emerge. When is vehicular homicide not vehicular homicide? When it’s premeditated murder, of course.
Unpersuasive plot contrivances and clunky prose add up to a pedestrian effort from a writer who’s done better work (Born to Run, 2008, etc.).