Miami criminal-defense lawyer Jack Swyteck is back in action, defending an old friend and rekindling an old flame in this fast-paced thriller.
After another standalone, Grippando (Lying with Strangers, 2007, etc.) brings back the likable Swyteck for a seventh wild ride. This time, old crimes are challenging old friends and reawakening the ghosts of South Florida’s past. Swyteck’s best friend Theo, a former death-row inmate, is implicated when a former gang buddy breaks out of prison. The gangster, Isaac, wants help but Theo knows better than to jeopardize his new life, his relationship with his girlfriend, Trina, or his plans to open a jazz bar in the spirit of Miami’s lost African-American heyday. So Isaac uses the murder of Theo’s mother, 20 years earlier, as bait, promising information about that unsolved crime, and lays a trail for the cops to Theo’s door, to push him into action. Once Isaac makes these moves, Jack has his hands full. Not only does he have to defend Theo from charges of breaking Isaac out, he must restrain his friend from going after Isaac himself for leads about his Momma. And when Isaac is killed, Jack has to fight his growing feelings for FBI agent Andie Henning, a former almost-girlfriend who can’t help but believe that Theo is involved. Mysteries pile up within mysteries, as the old murder ties in with current drug crimes and an urban-renewal scam. There’s plenty of shoot-’em-up action, including a showdown in a horse barn that thankfully leaves the gorgeous beasts unharmed. But Grippando goes beyond the formula. Touches of humor, particularly between the romancing couples and Theo’s Uncle Cy, and a feeling for the history of the city propel this thriller beyond the ordinary. In addition to action, the author gives us people we can root for, both on the street and in their private lives.
A surprisingly warm thriller with the flavor of the real Miami.