Miami lawyer Jack Swyteck’s 25th case is one of his best.
The most dangerous place a woman can be, Isabelle Bornelli was told long ago, is in a relationship with a man. Since then the former Venezuelan beauty-pageant contestant has entered a doctoral program in psychology, married high-powered wealth manager Keith Ingraham, and gone off to make her home with him in Hong Kong, far from the University of Miami, where fellow student Gabriel Sosa raped her 12 years earlier. Her illusions of safety end when she gets off a plane in Miami, where she’s come to take her 5-year-old, Melany, for surgery to correct the hearing loss brought on by meningitis, and is promptly taken into custody for Sosa’s murder. Since Keith is a close friend of Jack, who’s on hand to witness the arrest, she’s got herself some highly capable representation (Black Horizon, 2014, etc.). But all the other men in her life spell trouble. Her college boyfriend David Kaval prepares to tell the court she egged him and a friend on to kill Sosa shortly after the assault in exchange for a deal that will release him from the prison term his more recent convictions for conspiracy and armed robbery have earned him. Her estranged father, former Venezuelan consul officer Felipe Bornelli, plans to direct her defense along his own lines, even if that means sabotaging Jack. Manuel Espinosa, the slick attorney who gets her released on bail after Jack fails to deliver, insinuates himself into her defense in disquietingly manipulative ways. Even her husband becomes a potential danger when hard-driving prosecutor Sylvia Hunt charges him as an accessory and the couple’s two cases are separated, paving the way for a plea bargain for each of them in return for testimony against the other.
Grippando gets underway with a bang and never lets up, springing a series of carefully calibrated surprises in and out of the courtroom guaranteed to catch even the canniest readers unaware.