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LAST TO DIE by James Grippando

LAST TO DIE

By James Grippando

Pub Date: July 8th, 2003
ISBN: 0-06-000555-6
Publisher: HarperCollins

A wild will turns its legatees into clay pigeons in Miami lawyer Jack Swyteck’s latest outing.

Sally Fenning’s luckless first marriage ended in poverty, divorce, and homicide: A masked man broke into her house, attacked her, and drowned her four-year-old daughter Katherine. Five years later, her second marriage seems to have gone a lot better; a cagey prenup and prudent investments have left her $46 million richer. So why does she contact a hit man and ask him to kill her? If she’s so devastated by Katherine’s murder, why has she waited five years? And why does the will she leaves behind after she’s shot to death on the freeway divide her entire estate among six people she didn’t even like, with the stipulation that the whole pot will go to the last survivor? As the would-be heirs—Sally’s ex Miguel Rios, his divorce lawyer Geraldo Colletti, Miami Tribune reporter Deirdre Meadows, assistant state attorney Mason Rudsky, small-time hoodlum Tatum Knight, and mysterious Alan Sirap—begin eyeing each other nervously, Swyteck (Beyond Suspicion, 2002, etc.), who wants nothing to do with the case, gets dragged into it by his best friend, Tatum’s brother Theo, who insists that his brother didn’t kill Sally, even though he’s the hit man she pitched her own death to. Jack spins his wheels interminably filing suit against Rudsky to force him to disclose files on Katherine’s unsolved murder and flying to the Ivory Coast to see Sally’s sister Rene, a pediatrician working with Children First, so it’s a good long time before the heirs predictably start to die and the fun (though not the logic, complexity, or surprise) begins.

Forget Grisham. Grippando works in the James Patterson mold: high concepts, simple characters, prefab thrills, turbo-charged pacing, and utterly forgettable twists and turns.