Last Call (Jack Swyteck Series #7)by James Grippando
Criminal defense attorney Jack Swyteck learns that the sins of the past never die. . .
Many years ago, Jack Swyteck saved Theo Knight's life. Theo grew up on the streets of Miami's roughest neighborhood and lost his mother to a violent crime. By the time he was a teenager, he was on Death Row for a murder he didn't commit. Jack was/blockquote>… See more details below
Criminal defense attorney Jack Swyteck learns that the sins of the past never die. . .
Many years ago, Jack Swyteck saved Theo Knight's life. Theo grew up on the streets of Miami's roughest neighborhood and lost his mother to a violent crime. By the time he was a teenager, he was on Death Row for a murder he didn't commit. Jack was the lawyer who proved him innocent.
Now a successful bar owner, Theo has turned things around. But he needs Jack's aid again, this time more than ever. An escaped convict from the old neighborhood shows up at Theo's back door, asking for help. In return, he'll finger the man who murdered Theo's mother. But the answers aren't so simple, and soon Theo's own life is in danger.
Last Call is a brilliant and bullet-fast thriller complete with revelations that no reader will ever forget.
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Last Call LP
A Novel of Suspense
In silent agreement, the Grove Lords selected their next victim.
All of Miami—or at least the bus-riding, project-dwelling population of the Coconut Grove ghetto—seemed to stop and admire the 1964 Chevy Impala cruising down Grand Avenue. The totally refurbished, twenty-year-old classic had all the trappings of the finest in gang wheels. Metallic blue paint job with a flaming red devil atop the hood. Bumpers, mirrors, and side strips in high-polished chrome that glistened in the sunset. Low-ride, hydraulic suspension that left barely enough ground clearance for a garden snake. The most prized upgrades, of course, were the all-important rims—180-count spoke radials with 24-karat, gold-plate finish. Not bad for three punks from the 'hood. They'd stolen it from a Latino gang leader who had more flash than firepower. A pair of 9-millimeter bullet holes in the rear quarter panel marked the occasion.
Music blasted at ear-splitting decibels from a boom box in the trunk. The dark-tinted windows rattled with the deep-base vibes of "When Doves Cry," by Prince. Thirteen-year-old Theo Knight rode shotgun. He wore his Nike cap backward, the price tag still dangling from the bill. Sweat pasted an orange Miami Hurricanes football jersey to his back. A Mercedes-Benz hood ornament hung from a thick gold chain around his neck. It was the standard uniform of the Grove Lords, a gang of badass teenagers led by chief thief of the week Isaac Reems. Isaac was behind the wheel. Theo's older brother, Tatum, was sandwiched between them on the bench seat.
Isaac lowered the music sothey could talk. "You seen him, right?"
"Uh-huh," said Tatum.
Theo didn't answer.
"Theo?" said Isaac. "You seen him, didn't ya?"
Theo knew exactly who he was talking about. The next white dude they spotted was their agreed-upon target. "Yeah, I seen him. Crazy man ridin' straight through nigguh town on a bicycle."
Coconut Grove was one of those mixed communities in south Florida. Long before the developers came with bulldozers and wrecking balls, the Grove was known as a bohemian enclave for tree lovers and flower children of the 1960s. Finding your way through the twisted, narrow residential streets beneath the green tropical canopy was a perennial right of passage in Miami. But to Theo—to any black kid who'd heard the gunshots outside the rundown bars and package stores on Douglas Road—the Grove was a world of extremes. Butting right up against Miami's most expensive real estate was a ghetto that could service just about anyone's bad habit, from gangs with their random hits, to doctors and lawyers who ventured out in obedience to their addictions. It was easy for affluent white folks to become careless and take a dangerous shortcut on their way home to paradise. And there were plenty of opportunists like the Grove Lords to make them pay for it.
"This one's all yours," said Tatum.
"I know," said Theo.
The cyclist turned on Grand Avenue. The Chevy followed. "Let's tail him for a while," said Isaac. "Make him shit his pants."
Tatum laughed and took a long swig from a half-empty bottle of vodka. He passed it to Theo, who pushed it away.
"What's wrong with you, pussy?" said Tatum.
"I ain't a pussy."
"We'll see," said Isaac. "Pop the glove box."
Theo opened it. Inside was a pearl-handled knife with a six-inch, serrated blade that shone like a mirror. It was an impressive weapon, a collector's item with serious pawn value. "What you want me to do with this?"
"Cut him," said Isaac.
"Say what? I thought I just had to take him down."
"What you think 'take him down' means?" said Isaac. "Show me some blood, brotha'. That's your ticket into the gang."
"I can knock his ass off his bike. That'll get him bloody."
"Fucking road rash?" said Tatum. "You think that's gonna make you a Grove Lord?"
The cyclist was pedaling faster, glancing nervously over his shoulder every few seconds, obviously sensing that he was being followed. "Nobody said nothin' about stabbin' nobody," said Theo.
"You want in the gang or don't you?" said Isaac.
"Yeah. I want in."
Tatum took another hit of vodka. "Then shut up and do your job."
Theo drew a deep breath and let it out. Compared to Tatum, Theo was the good kid in the family. Gang life seemed to come naturally to his older brother. Tatum was always in trouble, and Theo had inherited a bad-boy reputation and a slew of enemies without even trying. Not that Theo was a saint. Even with a thug for an older brother, Theo wouldn't have been considered for membership in the Grove Lords if he hadn't shown potential of his own. But his résumé was filled with petty stuff—smash-and-grabs from parked vehicles, some vandalism, that kind of thing. Theo had never really hurt anyone, at least not simply for the fun of it.
The cyclist made another quick left. The Chevy was right behind him. A jerky hand signal told the driver to go around him.
Tatum nearly burst with laughter, slapping the dashboard. "Yeah, right. Like we need you to tell us what to do, white boy."
Isaac smiled. "He knows he's in trouble."
Theo was sullen. "I'm no good with knives."
"Man, why do I have such a pussy for a brother?" said Tatum, groaning.
Theo took a swing at him, but before it landed, Tatum had his younger brother's wrist in one hand and the knife in the other. "Don't you ever turn on me," said Tatum, showing him the tip of the blade.
The cyclist suddenly found a higher gear. He was racing through the green light, crossing six lanes of stopped traffic on U.S. 1.
"Got ourselves a flyer!" said Isaac. He hit the gas, and as the Chevy sped over the gentle crown in the highway, the chassis scraped on asphalt, sending sparks flying. "Shee-it," said Isaac.
On the other side of the highway, the cyclist made a hard right onto the paved bicycle path.
"He's getting away," said Tatum.
"No, he ain't," said Isaac. The tires screeched as he steered the car onto the bike path in hot pursuit. Tatum howled, cheering on the chase.
The path was like a narrow, winding road beneath the elevated Metrorail tracks. A tall chain-link fence topped with spirals of razor wire bordered the left side, separating the public path from warehouses and auto-repair shops. To the right were the three southbound lanes of U.S. 1, an endless stream of traffic headed in the opposite direction at better than fifty miles per hour. The cyclist had nowhere to go but due north along the bicycle path. He swerved a few feet to the left, and the Chevy followed. The cyclist jerked to the right, and so did the Chevy. Isaac toyed with his prey, practically kissing the bicycle's rear tire with the Impala's big chrome bumper. The rider glanced back over his shoulder, terror on his face. He was inches away from being roadkill when they reached a cross street. The cyclist made a hard left turn.
"He's toast," said Isaac.
It was a side road of broken asphalt and rutted gravel. The rider hit a mud puddle and nearly fell, but he managed to right himself and keep going. He had to stand on the pedals to maintain his speed. The all-out sprint was taking its toll.
"Get ready," Tatum told his brother.
Dead ahead was a solid block wall. The paint-and-body shops on either side had closed hours earlier, their windows and doors protected by roll-down, metal security shutters. White boy had found himself a blind alley. He dropped his bicycle and ran, searching frantically for a way to scale the wall. It was like a sheer cliff. He turned and faced the music—literally—as the noisy low-rider raced toward him. His back was to the wall, his chest heaving, as he braced himself for the worst.
The Chevy skidded to a stop. Tatum reached across his brother's lap and pushed the door open. "Get him, Theo!"
Theo didn't move.
Tatum slapped the knife handle into the palm of Theo's hand. "Go on, do it!"
"Take the bike," shouted the rider, his voice quaking. "I paid over a thousand bucks for it. Really. You can have it."
"Now!" Tatum said to his brother.
"Why don't we just take the bike?" said Theo.
"We ain't here for no bike. You gonna cut him or not?"
The rider was ash white with fear, pleading. "Come on, guys. Please. Don't do this. I have a two-year-old daughter."
Tatum had lost all patience. "Cut him, damn it! Cut him good!"
Theo's gaze shifted back to the rider, who was trying to adopt a goofy martial-arts, self-defense pose. Theo could have kicked his ass so easily. It wasn't fear that was holding him back. In fact, there was strange satisfaction in walking up to a Bruce Lee wannabe and laying him out on the sidewalk—but only if there was a good reason to do it, like payback or protection. If Theo was going to turn some random Joe into a noisy amusement for a knife, it was important that he stand to gain something more than acceptance by a couple of punks who called themselves the Grove Lords.
Theo handed the knife to his brother. "You cut him."
"Pussy!" shouted Tatum. He reached across for the handle and slammed the door shut.
Isaac shook his head with disapproval as he hit the gas. The tires spun and gravel flew. Theo looked back and saw white boy fall to his knees, relieved and exhausted.
Tatum shoved the knife back into the glove compartment. Theo thought he heard him say "pussy" again, but the boom box was way too loud. Isaac was singing along to Prince again, changing the words: "This is what it sounds like / when Theo Knight cries."
Twilight turned into night as they drove back into Coconut Grove. Theo retreated into thought. He was no pussy. He just wasn't as stupid as his older brother. Even so, Tatum would pound him when they got home, no question about it. Or at least he would try. Theo grew bigger and stronger with each passing month, and everyone knew that before long the younger brother would have the upper hand.
"Something's goin' down over there," said Isaac.
At the south end of Grand Avenue, right outside Homeboy's Tavern, a crowd had gathered in the street. A line of cars in the right lane was blocking traffic. The Chevy stopped a block away at the red light. Isaac rolled down the window and shouted to another Grove Lord who was standing on the corner.
"Hey, Switch," said Isaac. Switch (short for "switchblade") sauntered up to the driver's side of the Impala. Isaac said, "Hey, what's happenin', bro'?"
"You mean over there?" he said, indicating the crowd.
"I sure don't mean in your shitty little life."
Switch smiled, too dumb to know when he was being insulted. "Some bitch got her throat slit."
"She still there?"
"Yeah. Blood everywhere. And she's wearing this short skirt with nothin' underneath. You can see it all, dude. Definitely worth a look."
"Cops there yet?"
"Uh-uh. Just happened."
"Let's go see," said Tatum.
Isaac raised the window. The traffic light changed, and the car started slowly down the street. Isaac looked at Theo and said, "Here's the deal, bro'. I'm giving you one more chance to make it."
"I ain't cuttin' no dead woman."
"Forget the knife. All you gotta do is walk up to the body in front of all these people. Make sure everyone sees you. And then I want you to steal something off her."
"That's too easy," said Tatum.
"I make the rules," said Isaac. "This is Theo's gig. You up for it?"
"Shit, yeah. No problem."
Isaac steered the Chevy into Homeboy's parking lot and killed the engine. "All right. Go for it, dude."
Theo climbed down from the low-rider and started toward the crowd. About fifty black folks had gathered, most of the adults with drinks in their hands from Homeboy's. The front door to the bar was wide open. The latest hit song from Kool and the Gang filled the warm night air. The nearest street lamp had been shot out by the Grove Lords weeks earlier, so the only source of light was the half-moon and the blinking Budweiser sign above the entrance to Homeboy's. The main crowd formed a semicircle that blocked Theo's view of the fallen victim. Several shirtless teenage boys were on their bellies, getting the X-rated up-skirt view that Switch had mentioned. Not a cop was in sight, but sirens could be heard in the distance. Theo needed to move quickly. He was about to break through the crowd when someone grabbed him by the arm, halting him.
"Don't go there," the man said.
Theo nearly slugged him in the darkness, but at the last moment he recognized his great-uncle. "Uncle Cy, what are you doing here?"
"That don't make no never mind. Just do as I tell ya. Don't go there."
Theo glanced back toward his brother in the Chevy. "I gotta go."
"No, you don't want to do that." Uncle Cy tightened his grip. Theo noticed that the old man's hand was shaking. At six foot two he was taller than Theo, but he was a thin reed who lived on gin and cigarettes and God only knew what else. Theo could have shaken him off like a fly, but Uncle Cy with all his flaws was the closest thing he had to a father.
"You're messing me up here," said Theo.
"I ain't gonna let you do this."
Theo had no idea how the old man knew he was on a Grove Lord mission. He must have just figured that if Theo was out cruising with Tatum and Isaac, they had to be up to no good. "You need to let go."
"No can do, boy."
"Take you hands off me."
"Not tonight I won't."
"Get out of the way."
"It's for your own good."
"Don't make me knock you on your ass."
"You're gonna have to. 'Cuz I ain't lettin' you through here, boy."
Theo shoved him, and Uncle Cy went down like a bowling pin. Theo started through the crowd.
He kept going.
"Come back, boy!"
Theo ignored him.
"Theo, it's your momma!"
Theo froze. There was blood on the street, on her dress, in her hair—so much blood, the color of her long crimson nails dotted with cheap rhinestones. Flies buzzed with interest around the deep gash across her throat. The wound was just below the white leather choker around her neck, a few inches above the rose tattoo on her right breast. Theo didn't want to see her face, but some inner curiosity made him take a good long look. He saw the open mouth, the painted lips, the vacant eyes staring into the night—two black pools behind a hooker's false lashes and enough sparkling purple shadow to let the johns know exactly what she was.
And he saw a leopard-print shoulder bag on the ground, beside the lifeless body.
Sirens in the distance grew louder. Theo stood silent and stared, as if searching for the right emotions. He didn't let his eyes go there, but he knew Switch was right: you could see right up her skirt. The view would have been only slightly less revealing had she been standing in her usual spot on the corner.
"Theo," his uncle said, but Theo ignored him.
He stepped toward his mother, bent down on one knee, and checked to make sure that everyone was watching.
Then he grabbed the purse and ran back to the Chevy.Last Call LP
A Novel of Suspense. Copyright © by James Grippando. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. <%END%>
Meet the Author
James Grippando is a New York Times bestselling author of suspense. Cane and Abe is his twenty-second novel. Grippando was a trial lawyer for twelve years before his 1994 debut novel, The Pardon, and he now serves as counsel to Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP. He lives in South Florida with his wife, three children, two cats, and a golden retriever named Max who has no idea that he's a dog.
- Coral Gables, Florida
- Date of Birth:
- January 27, 1958
- Place of Birth:
- Waukegan, Illinois
- B.A. with High Honors, University of Florida, 1980; J.D. with Honors, University of Florida, 1982
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Criminal Defense Attorney Jack Swyteck is back in another adventure involving a friend, Theo McKnight, who Jack had saved, when Theo was on death row in Florida, Theo is really a good guy but his undeserved past reputation is still with him. Theo is in search of the person that murdered his mother some years ago. He has his suspicions but proof has to be discovered. Theo gets Jack to give him an assist in this involved matter. Theo owns a club and has future desires to own another one in a better area. He has some roadblocks occur that slow down that dream for a while. Last Call takes place mostly in the Miami area. There are many gangs active in the area, gangs that have no qualms regarding killing anyone that looks at them the wrong way. They have gang initiations that force their candidates to doing the vilest things to others. Theo felt that these gangs were responsible for his mother¿s death and he decided to play his old gang contacts so he could find the murderer. The problem became one that caused more murders along with many beatings that included Theo and his Uncle Cy. Uncle Cy had been a musician in his earlier days and still maintained that great memory and played those places all over again in his mind. He was a tough guy but getting older reduced his available actions to retaliate. Swyteck had relationships with Rene but Rene had to go back to Africa, many times sooner than necessary in Jack¿s thinking. They had great sex but then it was goodbye Rene for months when Jack usually didn¿t hear from her. Jack had another acquaintance he liked quite well. Andie Henning had been an FBI agent for several years and Jack remembers the ¿sparks¿ that could fly just seeing her. When an old prison acquaintance of Theo¿s, Isaac Reems, escaped from prison too easily, Andie was called into the case. This, of course, brought Andie and Jack back together in another case and renewed the `friendship¿ that neither ever forgot. After several murders and beatings, the search for Reems intensified. When he killed a state trooper, the investigation got frantic. While Theo wanted to find his mother¿s murderer, he hated to get involved in any part of the investigation but Reems forced him into that. Reems was a tough guy. He used some of his many gang contacts in and out of the Miami area as well as in prison to make Theo become deeply involved. He was terrific at using people and at killing them after he was through with them. Last Call tells a terrific story in a very interesting way. The author uses his characters well and keeps the reader guessing all through the book. I read Mr. Grippando¿s last book, The Pardon, and thoroughly enjoyed it. He gives no less a great story in his new book. I thoroughly recommend Last Call if your interests lie in lawyer, police, gangland, killing, beatings, and of course, love. What more can be said. You will not be disappointed in this great read.
Swiftstripe padded out of the den with the five kits behind him. Onekit turned around to see his mother, Bluedust, looking at him with big eyes. Blackkit jumped on top of Onekit. "Come on!" He squealed. "You gotta look around! I might get you!" Blackkit warned and got off of Onekit. "No fighting, kits." Swiftstripe meowed. "I want to show you something." Onekit ran over to him, with Blackkit close to his heels. Ravenkit ran in front of Swiftstripe and ran into a bush. "Ravenkit, no!" Swiftstripe yelled and dug his head in the bush. He came out with Ravenkit's tail dangling in his jaws. Swiftstripe set the kit on the ground. "Just look kits. This is what I want you to see." Swiftstripe crouched and silently move into the bush. The kits imitate him. When Onekit and his littermates reached to the end of the bush, the look out and see alot of different cats. All of them were black with pure-white collars. Their claws are sharp and their pelts are covered with claw marks and dried blood. "Whoa..." Onekit meowed. "Not really, Onekit." Frostkit mewed. "They're a vicious group of cats; bloodthirsty and killers. They all were kittypets but they are here now." Swiftstripe explained. "They were called Kittyclan." Blackkit flinched. "Kittyclan? What a mouse-brain name!" He snorted. "Yes, it is. But to them, they are called 'Sharpblood'. Their leader is the one who killed your father, Tigertail. This place use to be our clan, but they took over it. They killed the leader and Tigertail. Everyone else just vanished except for the kits." Cinderkit trembled. "The kits?" She whispered. "Yes, the kits." Swiftstripe murmured. "All of them were captured and they have two choices: the first one is to join Sharpblood. The second one is to die." Frostkit stared at Swiftstripe, eyes-wide. "That's horrible!" She meowed. "I know it is, Frostkit. That is why you can't go over there. I don't want you five to make that mistake. Come on, lets go back." Swiftstripe ordered and moved back. The kits imitate him to get out of the bush. When the kits got out, they raced each other toward the den. Bluedust was waiting for them. "Hi mom!" Frostkit squealed and snuggles next to her. The other kits came in, Onekit was last. "Alright kits. What time is it?" Bluedust asked. Onekit looked out. "Nearly moonhigh, mom." He answered. "Then it's time to go to sleep." Bluedust cuddled around her kits. Onekit snuggled next to his mother. "Goodnight, mommy." He whispered. "Goodnight Onekit." Bluedust replied and closed her eyes. -------------------- "Onekit, wake up!" Something was nudging him. Onekit opened his eyes slowly and see Blackkit pounding on him with his paws. On the corner of Onekit's eye, Frostkit, Ravenkit, and Cinderkit were next to the entrance of the den, eyes-wide in fear. "What is happening Blackkit?" Onekit asked and stepped in front of Blackkit. "We're going to check out Kittyclan camp. A.K.A, Sharpblood." Blackkit answered in a whisper. "But that place is too dangerous!" Onekit pointed out. "Yeah, but all of them are mouse-brain kittypets and it's moonhigh, so all of those idiots are sleeping." Blackkit murmured and grabbed Onekit by the scruff and haul him to the entrance, where his other brother and sisters are. "Don't be scaredy cats! We are just looking!" Blackkit whispered. Cinderkit was the only one to calm down, and the others imitaed her. "Now, lets go." Blackkit ordered and everyone raced out. Author's note: Part threee coming soon. -Flamepaw of Leafclan.
#7 IN SERIES, ALL GOOD BOOKS.
This installment of Grippando's Jack Swytek series focuses on Jack's best friend Theo Knight, a man Jack saved from death row. Theo owns his own bar and is on the verge of expanding his business when Isaac Reems, former gang member and an escaped convict, shows up asking for help. Theo isn't so inclined but Reems's bargaining chip is that he can reveal the identity of the person who killed Theo's mother 20 years earlier. The FBI, hot on the trail of Reems, suspects Theo is helping the convict, and when Reems is murdered, their focus is on Theo. Jack and Theo suspect all is tied to his mother's death but that road leads to danger. This addition to the series is middle-of-the-road, better than some, not as good as others. Grippando brings back FBI agent Andie Henning, and although chemistry is hinted at between Andie and Jack, it's just not there. Swytek seems off his game and Theo's constant emotion is anger, although there is good cause. More is learned of Theo's Uncle Cy, an interesting character.
Good summer book........... good story
In his typical style, James Grippando kept me turning pages in his 7th Jack Swyteck. Grippando is an excellent author. Last Call is an excellent, easy read. I look forward to #8.
Sick and sad. Someone who finds his mother dead in the street then steals her purse so he can become part of a gang. That's when I stopped reading. This garbage is not worth any more of my time.
'Last Call' reminded me of Michael Connelly's 'The Last Coyote', and not just because of the similar titles. Both are about the search for the killer of a main character's mother. Both murders occurred when the characters were young boys, the crimes haunting each of them into adulthood. And both investigations uncover the possible involvement of local movers and shakers - political and otherwise - in the killings. 'Last Call' is more character-driven than Grippando's other recent Swyteck novels, with its focus on Swyteck's buddy Theo and the long-ago crime that took his mother. All for the better, I think, as Grippando develops the relationship between Swyteck and FBI agent Andie Henning, as well as that of Theo and his Uncle Cy. I also liked the Miami backdrop, and the way the history of the city was integrated into the plot. Don't get me wrong, there's plenty of action, for which Grippando has a natural flair, but it's nice to seen the author stretch a little.
REVIEWER: BARBARA LIPKIEN GERSHENBAUM SEE ALL MY REVIEWS Jack Swyteck makes his 7th appearance in James Grippando's adult legal series. The most important case of his career was when he proved that Theo Knight, a prisoner on Florida's death row was innocent. The attorney and the boy from a gang in the hood formed a bond of friendship that is unbreakable. Thus when Isaac Reems, a gang pal from Theo's bad old days, escapes from prison he makes a bee line for 'Sparky's,' Theo's bar. He demands help and threatens to take Knight down with him if he's caught. Outraged and frustrated Theo knows the only way for him to stay safe and out of jail is to call Swyteck at once. Jack wants him to turn himself in to the state's attorney through FBI agent, Andie Henning. The arrangements are made. The deed is done and the story unfolds from there. Interesting twists and surprising turns of plot abound throughout LAST CALL. Unfortunately, too much of the story is predictable, which is unusual for a thriler by James Grippando. Nevertheless fans will enjoy the fast pace and fully fleshed out characters whose dialogue is very believable. BARBARA LIPKIEN GERSHENBAUM
Miami criminal defense lawyer Jack Swyteck still worries about his former client bar owner Theo Knight as he knows his best friend has lingering resentment, rightfully so. When Theo was a teen raised by kind Uncle Cy (after his mom was killed) in the roughest hood, he was arrested and convicted for murder. He became the youngest person on death row and was only saved when Jack proved he could not have committed the homicide even then he still almost was executed. --- Jack learns that someone tried to kill Theo in his old hood. Apparently, convict Isaac Reems promised to provide Theo with the name of his mom¿s killer in exchange to helping him elude the law. Instead the escaped con leaves evidence that Theo abetted his escape while setting Theo up for the failed shooting. Theo has always wanted to avenge his mother¿s murder, but the case went cold for the cops and him as the trail was outside the hood. While Jack joins Theo on his investigation, he hopes to keep his buddy from committing a homicide, but that may not matter when Isaac is found dead with proof that Theo killed him. Meanwhile an affluent unknown adversary wants the son as dead as the mother so that a two decade old murder stays unsolved. --- LAST CALL is an excellent South Florida mystery as the key players bring the Greater Miami area to life in a fast-paced tale. Isaac and whoever hired him cleverly use the past that haunts Theo to get at him while Jack is there for him. A touch of two romances and a bit of humor adds depth to a great cat and mouse thriller. --- Harriet Klausner