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Last to Die (Jack Swyteck Series #3)

Last to Die (Jack Swyteck Series #3)

4.0 34
by James Grippando

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Miami criminal attorney Jack Swyteck doesn’t want Tatum Knight as a client. But the allegedly “reformed” contract killer is the brother of Jack’s best friend, and the assassin swears he had nothing to do with the shooting death ofSally Fenning, though he claims the beautiful, depressed multi-millionairess wanted him to do the deed. Even so,


Miami criminal attorney Jack Swyteck doesn’t want Tatum Knight as a client. But the allegedly “reformed” contract killer is the brother of Jack’s best friend, and the assassin swears he had nothing to do with the shooting death ofSally Fenning, though he claims the beautiful, depressed multi-millionairess wanted him to do the deed. Even so, Knight has been named in Fenning’s will, along with five others, all vying for afortune. The catch is that only the last living would-be beneficiary will inherit the $46 million. So begins a twisted game of survival of the greediest and deadliest as, one-by-one, the heirs start to fall. And suddenly Jack’s caught upin a chilling race to ensure that thenext to die is not Jack Swyteck.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Dangle $46 million in front of six people and tell them the last one standing gets it all. From that shopworn yet undeniably tantalizing premise springs Grippando's latest thriller starring Miami attorney Jack Swyteck. The big pot of money comes from wealthy divorcee Sally Fenning, who leaves an enormous estate following her murder. Not only is her death suspicious, the terms of her will are insidiously cunning. None of the six heirs, all people Fenning despised, can collect until all but one has either died or renounced their share of the inheritance. The common denominator is that all were connected to the murder of Fenning's daughter five years earlier. There is Fenning's ex-husband, his divorce attorney, the prosecutor who failed to bring charges against any suspect, the newspaper reporter who wrote about the case and a mystery man who can't be immediately located. Swyteck's client, hitman Tatum Knight, is the only one not connected to the little girl's murder, though his tie to Fenning is odious in its own right: Fenning tried to hire him to kill her, but he steadfastly denies taking the job. As expected, someone starts knocking off heirs. Those who survive are brutally intimidated into dropping their claim on the estate. Swyteck, meanwhile, scrambles to find out who's behind it all while balancing a love affair on the side. Grippando (Beyond Suspicion) handles his eighth thriller, his third featuring Swyteck, with workmanlike dexterity. As a protagonist, Swyteck is likable, yet there is little to distinguish him from the current throng of attorney-heroes: he's white, refined but not prissy, fighting off middle age. Yet his adventures are comfortingly enjoyable. Despite including a pointless trip to Africa's Ivory Coast, Grippando's latest lives up to its promise as a $46-million game of survival. 8-city author tour. (July 8) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In Grippando's eighth book and the third to feature Miami attorney Jack Swyteck, Theo Knight asks Jack, his best friend, to represent his brother, Tatum, who is one of six people named in the will of murder victim Sally Fenning. Tatum, who has a reputation as a hit man, claims that Fenning tried to hire him to kill her. It soon turns out that Fenning had reasons to hate all six heirs, and the will contains a provision that only one person will inherit her fortune, the last surviving heir. One of the six cannot be located and is suspected of having killed Fenning's young daughter years earlier. As expected, the heirs begin to die, and Tatum falls under further suspicion. It is up to Swyteck to learn more about Fenning's past and find the killer. Some aspects of the book seem implausible, particularly how a missing heir can inherit the fortune, especially with the others being murdered. Otherwise, Grippando's style keeps the story moving and renders the legal aspects understandable. While not on the same level as Beyond Suspicion, this is still recommended for most collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 3/15/03.]-Joel W. Tscherne, Cleveland P.L. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A wild will turns its legatees into clay pigeons in Miami lawyer Jack Swyteck's latest outing. Sally Fenning's luckless first marriage ended in poverty, divorce, and homicide: A masked man broke into her house, attacked her, and drowned her four-year-old daughter Katherine. Five years later, her second marriage seems to have gone a lot better; a cagey prenup and prudent investments have left her $46 million richer. So why does she contact a hit man and ask him to kill her? If she's so devastated by Katherine's murder, why has she waited five years? And why does the will she leaves behind after she's shot to death on the freeway divide her entire estate among six people she didn't even like, with the stipulation that the whole pot will go to the last survivor? As the would-be heirs-Sally's ex Miguel Rios, his divorce lawyer Geraldo Colletti, Miami Tribune reporter Deirdre Meadows, assistant state attorney Mason Rudsky, small-time hoodlum Tatum Knight, and mysterious Alan Sirap-begin eyeing each other nervously, Swyteck (Beyond Suspicion, 2002, etc.), who wants nothing to do with the case, gets dragged into it by his best friend, Tatum's brother Theo, who insists that his brother didn't kill Sally, even though he's the hit man she pitched her own death to. Jack spins his wheels interminably filing suit against Rudsky to force him to disclose files on Katherine's unsolved murder and flying to the Ivory Coast to see Sally's sister Rene, a pediatrician working with Children First, so it's a good long time before the heirs predictably start to die and the fun (though not the logic, complexity, or surprise) begins. Forget Grisham. Grippando works in the James Patterson mold: high concepts,simple characters, prefab thrills, turbo-charged pacing, and utterly forgettable twists and turns. Author tour. Agent: Richard Pine

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Jack Swyteck Series , #3
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.20(w) x 7.50(h) x 1.50(d)

Read an Excerpt

Last to Die

By James Grippando

Harper Collins Publishers

Copyright © 2003 James Grippando All right reserved. ISBN: 0060005556

Chapter One

The rainstorm was blinding, and Sally was way behind schedule. She hadn't intended to be late, fashionably or otherwise. She just wasn't good with directions, and this wasn't exactly her neck of the woods.

Sheets of water pelted the windshield, sounding like marbles bouncing off glass. She adjusted the wipers, but they were already working at full speed. She couldn't remember rain like this in years, not since she and her first husband lost their restaurant to that no-name tropical storm.

Orange taillights flashed ahead. A stream of cars was inching down the highway at the speed of cooling lava. She slowed to somewhere below the school-zone limit, then checked her watch. Eleven twenty-five.

Damn. He'd just have to wait. She'd get there, eventually.

Their meeting had been arranged by telephone. They'd spoken only once, and his instructions were simple enough. Thursday, 11 P.M. Don't be late. She didn't dare reschedule, not even in this weather. This was her man. She was sure of it.

Just ahead, a neon sign blinked erratically, as if shaken by the storm. It was like trying to read an eye chart at the bottom of a lake, and she could only make out part of it: S-P-something-something-K-Y-apostrophe-S.

"Sparky's," she readaloud. This was the place. She steered off the highway and pulled into the flooded parking lot. Under all this water, she could only guess as to the exact location of the parking spot. She killed the engine and checked her face in the rearview mirror. Lightning flashed - a close one. It lit up the inside of her car and unleashed a crack of thunder that sent shivers down her spine. It frightened her, then triggered a bemused smile. How ironic would that have been? After all this planning, to get hit by lightning.

She took a deep breath and exhaled. No turning back now. Just go for it.

She jumped down from the car and started her mad dash across the parking lot in the pouring rain. Almost immediately a blast of wind snatched her umbrella from her hand and pitched it somewhere into the next county. Wearing no coat, she covered her head with her hands and just kept running, splashing with each footfall. In a matter of seconds she reached the door, soaked to her undergarments, her wet jeans and white blouse pasted to her body.

A muscle-bound guy wearing a Gold's Gym T-shirt was standing at the entrance, and he opened the door for her. "Wet T-shirt contest's not till tomorrow, lady."

"You wish," she said, then headed straight to the restroom to see if she could dry off. She looked in the mirror and gasped. Her nipples were staring back at her, right through her bra and wet blouse.

Good God!

She punched the hand dryer, hoping for hot air. Nothing. She tried again, and again, but to no avail. She reached for a paper towel, but the dispenser was empty. Toilet paper would have to do. She went to the stall, found a loose roll atop the tank, and proceeded to dab furiously from head to foot. It was single-ply paper, not terribly absorbent. She went through the entire roll. She exited the stall, took another look at her reflection in the mirror, and gasped even louder this time. Her entire body was covered with shredded remnants of cheap toilet paper.

You look like a milkweed.

She started laughing, not sure why. She laughed so hard it almost hurt. Then, with her hands braced on the edge of the sink, she leaned forward and hung her head. She could feel her emotional energy drifting up to that ever-present knot of tension at the base of her skull. Her shoulders started to heave, and the laughter turned to tears. She fought it off and quickly regained her composure.

"You are a total wreck," she said to her reflection.

She brushed off as much of the toilet paper as she could, fixed her makeup, and said the hell with it. Nothing was going to stop this meeting from happening. She took a deep breath for courage and exited into the bar.

The crowd surprised her, not so much its makeup, which was about what she'd expected, but more the simple fact that there was such a big crowd on a nasty night like this. A group of truckers was playing black-jack by the jukebox. Leather-clad bikers and their bleached-blond girlfriends had a monopoly on the pool table, as if waiting out the storm. T-shirts, jeans, and flannel shirts seemed to be the dress code for a seat at the bar. These folks were hard-core, and this was clearly a place that depended on its regulars.

"Can I help you, miss?" the bartender asked.

"Not just yet, thanks. I'm looking for someone."

"Yeah? Who?"

Sally hesitated, not exactly sure how to answer that. "Just, uh, sort of a blind date."

"That must be Jimmy," said one of the men at the bar.

The others laughed. Sally smiled awkwardly, the inside joke completely lost on her. The bartender explained, "Jimmy's the umpire in our softball league. They don't come any blinder."

"Ah, I get it," she said. They laughed again at this Jimmy's expense. Sally broke away and continued across the bar before their interest could return to the lost girl in the wet clothes. Her gaze fixed on the third booth from the back, near the broken air-hockey table. A black guy with penetrating eyes and no smile was staring back at her. He was wearing a dark blue shirt with black pants, which made Sally smile to herself. Never before had she laid eyes on him, but his look and those clothes were exactly what he'd described over the telephone. It was him ...


Excerpted from Last to Die 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.

Meet the Author

James Grippando is a New York Times bestselling author of twenty-four novels. He was a trial lawyer for twelve years before the publication of his first novel in 1994 (The Pardon), and now serves as counsel at 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.

Brief Biography

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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Last to Die (Jack Swyteck Series #3) 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 32 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read When Darkness Falls first, and got hooked on Grippando. This book, Last to Die, takes inheritance to a new meaning. Before reading it, you should start with The Pardon, where Grippando first intruduces his main characters. His writing makes me feel as if I know all his characters.
Guest More than 1 year ago
James Grippando has delivered another masterpiece in the 3rd installment of Florida lawyer, Jack Swyteck series. As with every James Grippando novel I have read to date, twists and turns abound that keep you glued to the last page! Just when I thought I had the end figured out....wham....I was wrong! Can't wait to read more about Jack and his sidekick, Theo. An excellent read!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful continueous book in the series. It is very funny, sad and full of who done it and why? You won't know till the even then you won't believe it. Read this and the first two and there is more to come! Great book James keep on writing>!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great author grear
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I enjoyed this book. Interesting idea with a twist at the end. --K--
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