Beyond Suspicion (Jack Swyteck Series #2)

Beyond Suspicion (Jack Swyteck Series #2)

3.9 43
by James Grippando
     
 

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Miami criminal lawyer Jack Swyteck’s beautiful ex-girlfriend Jessie Merrillsold her life insurance benefit for a cash payment when she was diagnosedwith a deadly disease. Now, thanks toJack’s courtroom prowess, Jessie can keep the $1.5 million she received. But both Swyteck and those whoexpected to double their investment when Jessie died, it turns

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Overview

Miami criminal lawyer Jack Swyteck’s beautiful ex-girlfriend Jessie Merrillsold her life insurance benefit for a cash payment when she was diagnosedwith a deadly disease. Now, thanks toJack’s courtroom prowess, Jessie can keep the $1.5 million she received. But both Swyteck and those whoexpected to double their investment when Jessie died, it turns out,were dupes of a gorgeous scam artist who was never sick at all. And whenJessie’s corpse is discovered in Jack’sbathtub, he’s suddenly wanted for murder. Framed and desperate, he’s up against the police and a powerfulcriminal consortium willing to go toany lengths to retrieve their money.To save his freedom and his career,Jack must exhume the dark secretsof a buried past. But first he has toescape the murderous vengeance of a cold killer who is beyond suspicion . . .and who wants Jack Swyteck’s blood.

Editorial Reviews

Miami Herald
“Grippando’s legal insight and timely subject matter produce a strong narrative punch.”
Booklist
“A top-knotch adventure with plenty of supercharged excitement.”
Publishers Weekly
Grippando might not be the most lapidary of legal thriller writers, but he certainly has the imagination and research skills to plot up a storm. Readers of his seventh book (after A King's Ransom) will find themselves riveted as Miami criminal lawyer Jack Swyteck the hero of Grippando's first thriller, The Pardon returns to discover himself and his family under attack from several corners. Jessie Merrill, a particularly hot old flame of Jack's who's now dying of ALS, has hired him in an unusual civil case involving a "viatical settlement," in which she sells an insurance policy in return for an immediate cash payment. But the doctors were wrong: Jessie isn't dying, and the shadowy consortium of Russian mobsters who bought her policy are now suing to get their money back. Jack and Jessie win the case; Jack realizes that he and the Russians have been scammed; and when a principal character turns up dead in the Swyteck bathtub, Jack's unstable wife soon joined by a vengeful prosecutor thinks Jack did the dirty deed. There's also a tough and dangerous young Cuban woman with reasons of her own for wanting the Russians brought down, a likable roughneck whom Jack once rescued from death row, and enough mean-spirited federal agents and prosecutors to settle a career's worth of scores for a lawyer-turned-writer like Grippando, who was a partner in Janet Reno's firm before he took up the quill. (Sept.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
In his seventh book, Florida lawyer Grippando revives characters from his debut, The Pardon. After successfully defending a former girlfriend in an insurance case, Miami attorney Jack Swyteck becomes convinced that his client scammed everyone. The situation worsens when she is found dead in his bathtub. Swyteck is, of course, suspected of murdering her, and evidence making him look like a willing participant in her scam appears. Further incriminating information strains his marriage and leads him into a dangerous confrontation with the people who might be behind the killing. Grippando writes in compact prose, quickly moving from one situation to the next. The legal situations are clearly written and understandable, and the characters are well rounded-though Grippando never addresses Swyteck's alleged involvement in a different murder in the earlier book. Still, fans of legal thrillers will particularly enjoy this latest novel, which recounts important aspects from its predecessor. For most popular fiction collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/02.]-Joel W. Tscherne, Cleveland P.L. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
After a promising start, Grippando's eighth thriller-about an insurance scam and the Russian Mafia-stalls at midpoint and never recharges. Grippando (A King's Ransom, 2001, etc.) begins as confidently as Miami lawyer Jack Swyteck (last seen in The Pardon, 1994) strides from a courtroom where he has just won a case. Jack's former girlfriend Jessie Merrill had sold her three million-dollar insurance policy for half that amount to a firm named Viatical Solutions. Jessie had been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and given a short time to live. But her doctor later said his diagnosis was wrong, and that healthy Jessie was unlikely to die anytime soon. Viatical sued to retrieve its investment and lost. But after the verdict comes down, Jack suspects that Jessie and her doctor had scammed Viatical with fake records. And he's right-as Jessie brazenly tells him, her revenge over their break-up now complete. Then someone works revenge on Jessie: she turns up dead in Jack's bathtub in a pool of blood, wrists slashed. Grippando now works many intriguing angles: Did Jack kill Jessie? Did Jessie kill herself? Why did Jessie deposit her take from the case in an account under her name and Jack's? Is someone from Viatical the culprit? Jack digs into the latter possibility to save his hide and to shore up his shaky marriage with wife Cindy. Therein begins the drag. Cindy remains in numbing stasis, her conversations with Jack moving in wearying circles. Likewise, Jack's probe of Viatical keeps meeting itself coming around to the same question: Did someone from this front for the Russian mob kill Jessica? Intriguing, but hardly riveting when pushed uphill by flat characters-save for blunt, funnyTheo, Jack's ex-con friend, who steals the few scenes Grippando gives him. Questions compel, characters don't. Give Theo the next case.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062024541
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
11/29/2011
Series:
Jack Swyteck Series, #2
Pages:
496
Sales rank:
297,184
Product dimensions:
4.20(w) x 7.40(h) x 1.30(d)

Read an Excerpt

Beyond Suspicion


By James Grippando

Harper Collins Publishers

Copyright © 2003 James Grippando All right reserved. ISBN: 0060005548

Chapter One

Outside her bedroom window, the blanket of fallen leaves moved - one footstep at a time.

Cindy Swyteck lay quietly in her bed, her sleeping husband at her side. It was a dark winter night, cold by Miami standards. In a city where forty degrees was considered frigid, no more than once or twice a year could she light the fireplace and snuggle up to Jack beneath a fluffy down comforter. She slid closer to his body, drawn by his warmth. A gusty north wind rattled the window, the shrill sound alone conveying a chill. The whistle became a howl, but the steady crunching of leaves was still discernible, the unmistakable sound of an approaching stranger.

Flashing images in her head offered a clear view of the lawn, the patio, and the huge almond leaves scattered all about. She could see the path he'd cut through the leaves. It led straight to her window.

Five years had passed since she'd last laid eyes on her attacker. Everyone from her husband to the police had assured her he was dead, though she knew he'd never really be gone. On nights like these, she could have sworn he was back, in the flesh. His name was Esteban.

Five years, and the horrifying details were still burned into her memory. His calloused hands and jagged nails so rough against her skin.The stale puffs of rum that came with each nauseating breath in her face. The cold, steel blade pressing at her jugular. Even then, she'd refused to kiss him back. Most unforgettable of all were those empty, sharklike eyes - eyes so cold and angry that when he'd opened his disgusting mouth and bit her on the lips she saw her own reflection, witnessed her own terror, in the shiny black irises.

Five years, and those haunting eyes still followed her everywhere, watching her every move. Not even her counselors seemed to understand what she was going through. It was as if the eyes of Esteban had become her second line of sight. When night fell and the wind howled, she couldeasily slip into the mind of her attacker and see things he'd seen before his own violent death. Stranger still, she seemed to have a window to the things he might be seeing now. Through his eyes, she could even watch herself. Night after night, she had the perfect view of Cindy Swyteck lying in bed, struggling in vain with her incurable fear of the dark.

Outside, the scuffling noise stopped. The wind and leaves were momentarily silent. The digital alarm clock on the nightstand blinked on and off, the way it always did when storms interrupted power. It was stuck on midnight, bathing her pillow with faint pulses of green light.

She heard a knock at the back door. On impulse, she rose and sat at the edge of the bed.

Don't go, she told herself, but it was as if she were being summoned.

Another knock followed, exactly like the first one. On the other side of the king-sized bed, Jack was sleeping soundly. She didn't even consider waking him.

I'll get it.

Cindy saw herself rise from the mattress and plant her bare feet on the tile floor. Each step felt colder as she continued down the hall and through the kitchen. The house was completely dark, and she relied more on instinct than sight to maneuver her way to the back door. She was sure she'd turned off the outside lights at bedtime, but the yellow porch light was burning. Something had obviously triggered the electronic eye of the motion detector. She inched closer to the door, peered out the little diamond-shaped window, and let her eyes roam from one edge of the backyard to the other. A gust of wind ripped through the big almond tree, tearing the brownest leaves from the branches. They fell to the ground like giant snowflakes, but a few were caught in an upward draft and rose into the night, just beyond the faint glow of the porch light. Cindy lost sight of them, except for one that seemed to hover above the patio. Another blast of wind sent it soaring upward. Then it suddenly changed direction, came straight toward her, and slammed against the door.

The noise startled her, but she didn't back away. She kept looking out the window, as if searching for whatever it was that had sent that lone leaf streaking toward her with so much force. She saw nothing, but in her heart she knew that she was mistaken. Something was definitely outthere. She just couldn't see it. Or maybe it was Esteban who couldn't see it.

Stop using his eyes!

The door swung open. A burst of cold air hit her like an Arctic front. Goose bumps covered her arms and legs. Her silk nightgown shifted in the breeze, rising to midthigh. She somehow knew that she was colder than ever before in her life, though she didn't really feel it. She didn't feel anything. A numbness had washed over her, and though her mind told her to run, her feet wouldn't move. It was suddenly impossible to gauge the passage of time, but in no more than a few moments was she strangely at ease with the silhouette in the doorway.

"Daddy?"

"Hi, sweetheart."

"What are you doing here?"

"It's Tuesday."

"So?"

"Is Jack here?"

"He's sleeping."

"Wake him."

"For what?"

"It's our night to play poker."

"Jack can't play cards with you tonight."

"We play every Tuesday."

"I'm sorry, Daddy. Jack can't play with you anymore."

"Why not?"

"Because you're dead."

With a shrill scream she sat bolt upright in bed. Confused and frightened, she was shivering uncontrollably. A hand caressed her cheek, and she screamed again.

"It's okay," said Jack. He moved closer and tried putting his arms around her.

She pushed him away. "No!"

"It's okay, it's me."

Her heart was pounding, and she was barely able to catch her breath. A lone tear ran down her face. She wiped it away with the back of her hand. It felt as cold as ice water.

"Take a deep breath," said Jack. "Slowly, in and out."

She inhaled, then exhaled, repeating the exercise several times. In a minute or so, the panic subsided and her breathing became less erratic. Jack's touch felt soothing now, and she nestled into his embrace.

He sat up beside her and wrapped his arms around her. "Was it that dream again?"

She nodded.

(Continues...)


Excerpted from Beyond Suspicion by James Grippando
Copyright © 2003 by James Grippando
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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