Intent to Kill

Intent to Kill

3.8 17
by James Grippando, Jonathan Davis

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In this gripping thriller by New York Times bestselling author James Grippando, a fallen baseball star must use his new skills as Boston's king of sports talk radio to outwit a dangerous caller and prove—live and on the air—that the hit-and-run that killed his wife was no accident.

The fact that the police never found the drunk who ran Ryan

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In this gripping thriller by New York Times bestselling author James Grippando, a fallen baseball star must use his new skills as Boston's king of sports talk radio to outwit a dangerous caller and prove—live and on the air—that the hit-and-run that killed his wife was no accident.

The fact that the police never found the drunk who ran Ryan's wife off the road makes closure impossible.

Then, years later, chilling words from an anonymous tipster turn the accident into a homicide: "I know who did it."

Ryan then makes a stunning discovery. The tip may have come from Chelsea's own brother, Babes, who has an autism-related disorder. But why would Babes have withheld this information for three years? And what finally made him come forward anonymously?

The demand for answers sends Babes on the run and a cover-up begins to unravel that reaches back to the night of Chelsea's death, and that may implicate one of New England's most powerful families.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
In Grippando's limp latest, what looks like unpremeditated vehicular homicide isn't. Twenty-something Chelsea James, exemplary wife and mom, is on her way to McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, R.I., to see her husband play what might be his last game as a minor leaguer. Ryan, "six feet three and 220 pounds of athletic ability," is headed for "the Bigs," the smart money says. But Chelsea never gets to the ball park, and Ryan's can't-miss trip to glory gets derailed when a drunk driver rams Chelsea's car, then vanishes. Chelsea's killed, two-year-old Ainsley, strapped securely in her car seat, is bruised, and Ryan's shattered. He so adored his wife that he meant it literally when he said he couldn't live without her. Three years later, Ryan, now co-host of a popular morning sports-talk radio program in Boston, has in fact managed to live without Chelsea, but clearly he's a lesser Ryan. Gone is his baseball career and, with it, his sleep. He's so locked into insomnia that in three years his grief counselor has been unable to pry him loose. And then suddenly, Chelsea's death, the coldest of cold cases, heats back up. Secret agendas, long buried, become manifest; friends turn into enemies; conspiracies emerge. When is vehicular homicide not vehicular homicide? When it's premeditated murder, of course. Unpersuasive plot contrivances and clunky prose add up to a pedestrian effort from a writer who's done better work (Born to Run, 2008, etc.).
Madison County Herald
“Intent to Kill’s unique double play of baseball and the unpredictable Babes make Grippando’s newest thriller a hit for the bleachers.”
“An excellent thriller . . . Ryan James is a strong, sympathetic lead, and the supporting cast . . . is uniformly excellent. . . . This guy is really good.”
Romantic Times
“In this stand-alone thriller . . . the well-constructed, suspenseful plot is layered with many ‘What?!’ and ‘Oh my God’ moments. With the reader well and truly hooked, all one can do is hang on until the final reveal.”
National Examiner
“[A] page-turner.”
Lansing Journal (MI)
“A fast-paced, nifty crime novel with many surprising plot twists.”
The Globe and Mail
Intent to Kill is [Grippando’s] best. . . . It’s crisp and fresh and full of action from beginning to end.”
Charleston Post & Courier
“This book has it all: sports, crime, money and romance. . . . It’s a delight.”
Sun Sentinel
“Grippando’s thrillers marry well-drawn characters and realistic action. . . . The story strongly fits into the family thriller genre, epitomized by Harlan Coben.”
Providence Journal-Bulletin
“[A] tight, twisty thriller . . . Hums along like a sizzling fastball thrown straight and sure.”

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
Unabridged, Low Price CD
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 5.70(h) x 1.40(d)

Read an Excerpt

Intent to Kill

Chapter One

The first thing Ryan found was a hand with part of an arm. He guessed it was the left hand, but it was hard to tell. He spotted the right foot on the other side of the kitchen, on the floor, next to the high chair.

God only knew where the missing eyes and ears were.

Living in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, birthplace of Mr. Potato Head, had its ups and downs. But this working-class city of seventy-two thousand on the Blackstone River was no one-spud wonder. It was also the minor-league home of one of the most storied teams in baseball.

"Hi, Dada," said Ainsley. She was wearing only a diaper and her baseball cap—her daddy's team, of course. The Pawtucket Red Sox—"PawSox"—were the Triple-A minor-league affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, and twenty-four-year-old Ryan James was their rising star. Ryan put his daughter's partially reconstructed toy aside and gathered up Ainsley in his arms.

"What do you want for breakfast?" asked Ryan, as he put her in the high chair.

"Mama," she said.

"Anything else?"


"Coming right up," said Ryan.

Ainsley had fewer words in her vocabulary than most two-year-olds, and anything that she couldn't say was either a mama or a dada. Ryan didn't want to get Freudian about the whole thing, but he assumed the dada was a banana. He had no idea what the mama was. He selected a ripe one from the bunch, sliced it up for her, and put the pieces on the tray.

"Here you go, gorgeous," he said.

Ainsley ate one bite, then took the biggest piece and threw it right over Ryan's head. It landed infront of the refrigerator, where the real mama had to duck out of the line of fire as she entered the kitchen.

Chelsea sighed and put her hands on her hips. "Ryan, please don't throw food."

"I think you meant Ainsley," he said.


"You said, 'Ryan, please don't throw food.' I swear it wasn't me."

Chelsea looked flummoxed. "Oh, God. I'm already stressed."

"Just wait till we have five of these bambinos-." Chelsea froze.

"Kidding," said Ryan. He wanted only four. Chelsea poured a quick cup of coffee and gulped half of it down. "Why are you so tense?" said Ryan. She coughed on her java, and he immediately regretted the question. As a minor-league player, Ryan made the standard eleven hundred dollars per month plus a twenty-dollar per diem food allowance. It wasn't enough. Chelsea supplemented their income by teaching third-grade English at one of Boston's prestigious private schools. Three nights a week she attended law school classes at Suffolk University in Boston, a four-year program that would earn her a diploma when Ainsley was ready for first grade. If Ryan made it to the majors, she'd keep teaching; if he didn't, she'd start a new career. Either way, money would no longer be such an overriding issue in their future. For now, however, finances were tight, and with her full-time teaching responsibilities, her part-time law studies, and an hour-long commute each way between Pawtucket and Boston, Chelsea was struggling to be the good wife and mother.

Chelsea said, "I have a very important meeting, first thing this morning, with Mrs. Chambers. The last person I want to keep waiting is the head of school."

"You should eat something. It'll settle your nerves."

"No time."

"At least take a dada for the road," he said, holding up another banana.

The Ainsleyism brought a smile.

"Okay," she said. "I'll have a dada."

She went to him and gave him a kiss, and for a brief instant, it seemed to cut the stress. That was the great thing about marrying the love of your life. People sometimes said, "I can't live without you" without a thought, but when Ryan said those words to Chelsea, he was quite literal. Teammates teased him for being whipped, but deep down they envied him.

"Me, me, me!" said Ainsley.

Chelsea gave her a kiss, too.

"Ainsley has speech therapy today at eleven," she said. "Can you pick her up from day care and take her?"

"Sure," Ryan said. "Batting practice doesn't start until three. I'll take her to your mother's afterward."

"And I'll get her from there."

"Then you're coming to the game tonight?"

There was a long pause. Chelsea's schedule hadn't allowed her to see many of Ryan's games this season.

"I have a two-hour criminal law class tonight," she said.

"Honey, it's the last game of the season."

"I know. But the semester has barely started, and I'm already getting into trouble for missing too many classes."

"Don't they let you make up the class work for family commitments? Just this one time?"

"Well, I guess I could call the professor and see what he says."

"So you'll come?"

"I will really, really try."

Ryan took an envelope from the kitchen counter and handed it to her. "I snagged you really great seats."

She hesitated, and Ryan could see that he was adding pressure that she didn't need today. But it truly was the biggest game of the season.

Chelsea looked inside the envelope. "There are only two tickets," she said.

"Yeah. One for you and one for Ainsley."

"What about Babes?"

Ryan paused. What about Babes?

Babes was the nickname for Chelsea's younger brother, Daniel. Twenty-one years old and still living with his parents, he suffered from Asperger's syndrome, an autism-related disorder. He loved baseball and rarely missed a PawSox game. Most of the players were kind to him, but it was a bad practical joke a few years ago that had brought Ryan and Chelsea together. For laughs, one of Ryan's teammates asked Babes if he wanted a chocolate bar, but it was really Ex-Lax. Around the seventh inning, poor Babes suddenly dropped his baseball mitt and cap and went running home from the stands, a grown man with a load in his pants. Ryan got a three-game suspension without pay for breaking the nose of the jackass who'd done it. When Babes's sister came to thank Ryan, the sparks started to fly.

Intent to Kill. Copyright © by James Grippando. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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