WHEN DARKNESS FALLS by James Grippando


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Funky-chic South Florida mise-en-scène and macho-jokey dialogue qualify the sixth in the Jack Swyteck series as movie-ready.

Deranged and homeless, Falcon teeters atop Miami’s tallest bridge, threatening a nose-dive, while blind Sergeant Vincent Paulo tries talking him down. From the get-go, it’s beaucoups suspense—and then Grippando (Lying with Strangers, 2006, etc.) puts pedal to metal. Enter D.A. Swyteck, Grippando’s savvy but oddly nondescript hero. He’s representing the saved Falcon, now charged with creating a public nuisance and possessing crack. He’s also on heavy watch because one of his I’ll-off-myself-if demands was to chat up Alicia Mendoza, Paulo’s ex-squeeze, the mayor’s luscious daughter and a cop to boot. Shockingly making $10,000 bail by dipping into his Cayman Island strongbox, Falcon flies free, but then draws serious heat when a body is found stuffed in his trunk. On the lam, he holes up in a flea-bag hotel after seizing as hostage Swyteck’s sidekick, Theo Knight—“a cross between The Rock and a young Samuel L. Jackson on steroids.” Turns out, also inside are a couple of Latina hookers and their john, the unctuous local weatherman. A white-knuckle standoff ensues, with the obligatory SWAT crew and Paulo/Swyteck as tag-team negotiators. Things get complex (for a thriller) when cornered desperado Falcon begins freaking on flashbacks—torture cells in Argentina’s dirty war; unmentionable things done to pregnant women. Paulo and Alicia try to rekindle their spark, but Paulo’s got a weird suspicion about Alicia’s dad. Swyteck, too, thinks the mayor’s suspect when he hears that one of Mendoza’s bodyguards had pow-wowed with Falcon before Falcon went gun-happy. As Falcon self-combusts, so, too, do Alicia’s illusions about her father, and a fine, but by-the-numbers, action tale takes on deeper dimensions.

Filled with hostages, hush money and Miami vice, but it’s the relentless pacing that makes this one sizzle.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2007
ISBN: 0-06-083113-8
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2006


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