The Pardon

Overview

A brilliant Miami defense attorney, Jack Swyteck has spent years rebelling against his father, Harry, currently the governor of Florida. Their relationship is strained to the limit when Harry allows one of Jack's clients to die in the electric chair—a man Jack firmly believed was innocent. But now they will have to put their mutual animosity on a back burner, because a psychopath driven by his own twisted version of justice has placed both father and son in extreme harm's way. With no one to turn to but each ...

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Overview

A brilliant Miami defense attorney, Jack Swyteck has spent years rebelling against his father, Harry, currently the governor of Florida. Their relationship is strained to the limit when Harry allows one of Jack's clients to die in the electric chair—a man Jack firmly believed was innocent. But now they will have to put their mutual animosity on a back burner, because a psychopath driven by his own twisted version of justice has placed both father and son in extreme harm's way. With no one to turn to but each other, Jack and Harry must work together to overcome the sinister manipulations of a brilliant and bloodthirsty tormentor-or they will die together as the stakes are raised to higher and more terrifying heights.

A brilliant Miami D.A. and his powerful father are targets of a killer in this explosive legal thriller. When one of Jack's clients goes to the electric chair, Jack becomes even more estranged from his father, the governor who allowed it to happen. Now, somewhere in Miami, a killer is plotting his own revenge for the death--to be served on both father and son.

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Editorial Reviews

Boston Herald
A gripping melange of courtroom drama and psychotic manipulation . . . . A bona fide blockbuster.
Boston Herald
A gripping mélange of courtroom drama and psychotic manipulation . . . . A bona fide blockbuster.
Paul Levine
Move over John Grisham! The legal thriller of the year!
People
A gritty mystery that . . . rings true to the emotional realities of contemporary life. Readers will turn the pages of The Pardon faster than a bailiff can swear in a witness.
People Magazine
A gritty mystery that . . . rings true to the emotional realities of contemporary life. Readers will turn the pages of The Pardon faster than a bailiff can swear in a witness.
Tampa Tribune
The Pardon arrives with the pistol-shot crack of a gavel cutting through a courtroom.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Matters like realism and credibility take a back seat to high concept in this brisk but far-fetched first novel by a Florida attorney who poses a nifty question: What if a governor who favors the death penalty faced the prospect of allowing his own son to be executed for murder? In 1992, Florida governor Harold Swyteck allowed convicted killer Raul Fernandez to die in the electric chair despite the pleadings of his lawyer son, Jack, who claimed to have confidential proof that Fernandez was innocent. Now, in 1994, the man who supposedly gave Jack that proof-the man who claims to have committed the murder that was pinned on Fernandez-is blackmailing the governor by threatening to reveal that he let an innocent man die. Meanwhile, Jack has gotten an admitted killer, Eddie Goss, free on a technicality; when Goss is killed and all the evidence points to Jack as the murderer, the governor faces his dilemma: Will he sign his son's death warrant if he's convicted-or will he try to save him? Grippando's fast pacing obscures much plot manipulation and heavy-handed characterization. The novel's premise is compelling, but the structural holes sink this narrative. 75,000 first printing; $100,000 ad/promo; audio rights to HarperAudio; Literary Guild, Doubleday Book Club and Mystery Guild alternates; author tour. (Sept.)
Library Journal
This first novel is yet another entry into the crowded legal thriller genre. Jack Swyteck, defense attorney, has for many years rebelled against his father, Harry, currently the governor of their state. The story begins with the denial by Harry of a request for a stay of execution for one of Jack's clients, which sets into play a series of events. First, Jack is arrested for murder, and then Harry is blackmailed and faced with political ruin. These events lead to a reconciliation between father and son, who must now pull together and face a vengeful psychopath. The action, while slow to get started, ultimately leads to a series of increasingly violent episodes. Recommended for libraries with large collections of mysteries or thrillers. [Literary Guild, Doubleday Book Club, and Mystery Guild alternates.]-Erna Chamberlain, SUNY at Binghamton
From Barnes & Noble
Relentless pacing and murderous suspense combine in this thriller about an estranged father and son who must find common ground to survive the machinations of a psychopath bent on serving his own twisted vision of justice.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781419321054
  • Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC
  • Publication date: 9/22/2004
  • Series: The Jack Swyteck Series
  • Format: CD

Meet the Author

James Grippando

James Grippando is the New York Times bestselling author of eighteen previous novels, including Money to Burn, Intent to Kill, Born to Run, Last Call, Lying with Strangers, When Darkness Falls, and Got the Look, which are enjoyed worldwide in twenty-six languages. He lives in Florida, where he was a trial lawyer.

Biography

Whether standing before the bench in a courtroom or penning one of his bestselling thrillers featuring defense attorney Jack Swyteck, James Grippando has a deep fascination with the law. He practiced as a trial lawyer for twelve years before shifting his career in a more literary direction. However, the decision was not the result of bitter disillusionment. "I actually liked practicing law," he explains on his web site. "I just wished I could do less of it. That may sound like a contradiction, but the problem with being a lawyer is that, if you get caught up in it, eventually you won't know anything about anything except what you happen to be working on at the moment."

As he contemplated leaving the law, Grippando set his sights on becoming a writer, a career shift not as drastic as one might imagine. "A trial lawyer is in many ways a story teller," he said in an essay in Mystery Scene magazine. "Still, I had no idea how to become a novelist... So, I set a couple of ground rules. First, I would do my writing on the sly, nights and weekends, while continuing to bill my obligatory two thousand hours a year. Second -- and this was by far the most important rule -- I was determined to keep it fun."

Both Grippando's legal expertise and his determination to "keep it fun" were readily apparent in his 1994 debut, The Pardon, a taut thriller that introduced Jack Swyteck, a brash young Miami criminal defense attorney who successfully defends an admitted killer -- only to find himself framed for his defendant's murder. Called "a bona fide blockbuster" by the Boston Herald, this well-plotted first novel marked Grippando as a writer to watch.

Despite the popularity of The Pardon, Grippando would not return Jack Swyteck to active duty for eight more years. His second novel, written while he was still practicing law, was a fast-paced crime thriller called The Informant. Shortly after it was published in 1996, he left his practice for full-time writing and published a string of well received stand-alones, including The Abduction, Under Cover of Darkness, and A King's Ransom.

Then, in 2002, Grippando revived Jack Swyteck, placing him at the center of Beyond Suspicion, a gripping courtroom drama involving an insurance scam and the Russian Mafia. Readers reacted so joyfully to Swyteck's return that the author has -- with very few exceptions -- kept attention focused on his beloved series protagonist. As the review journal Booklist put it : "Grippando, whose best thriller have been full of imagination and out-of-left-field surprises, looks like he's found a winner in the Swyteck series."

Good To Know

When he was a lawyer, one of Grippando's most prominent cases found him defending a group of chicken farmers against, according to his essay in Mystery Scene magazine, "the largest privately-held corporation in the world." The Wall Street Journal deemed the case "the catalyst for change in the $15 billion a year poultry industry."

Before becoming a writer, Grippando was on the fast track to becoming a partner at Steel Hector & Davis, the Miami law firm at which former Attorney General Janet Reno began her career.

Some interesting outtakes from our interview with Grippando:

"In this world of revolving doors, I'm what you might call a professional anomaly. I've had the same publisher (HarperCollins) and agent (Richard Pine, along with his father Artie until his death) since the start of my career. I've also had the same editor (Carolyn Marino) since my second novel. I treasure these relationships. It is because of them that I am able to do what I love for a living."

"My first published novel was actually inspired by a near arrest in a case of total mistaken identity. One night in October 1992, tired of staring at a blank computer screen, I went for a walk before going to bed. I got about three blocks from my house when, seemingly out of nowhere, a police car pulled up onto the grassy part of the curb in front of me. A cop jumped out and demanded to know where I was going. I told him that I was just out for a walk, that I lived in the neighborhood. He didn't seem to believe me. "There's been a report of a peeping Tom," he said. "I need to check this out." I stood helplessly beside the squad car and listened as the officer called in on his radio for a description of the prowler."Under six feet tall," I heard the dispatcher say, "early to mid-thirties, brown hair, brown eyes, wearing blue shorts and a white t shirt." I panicked inside. I was completely innocent, but it was exactly me! "And a mustache," the dispatcher finally added. I sighed with relief. I had no mustache. The cop let me go.

But as I walked home, I could only think of how close I'd come to disaster. Even though I was innocent, my arrest would have been a media event, and forever I would have been labeled as "the peeping Tom lawyer." It was almost 2 a.m. by the time I returned home, but I decided that I needed to write about this. I took the feeling of being wrongly accused to the most dramatic extreme I could think of. I wrote about a man hours away from execution for a crime he may not have committed. What I wrote that night became the opening scene of The Pardon."

"My first editor on everything I write is my wife, Tiffany, who was an English Lit major."

"I can't underestimate the impact Miami -- the city in which I live -- has had on my writing. Miami evokes all the right buzz words -- smart and sexy, young and beautiful -- but it also has a self-destructive quality that triggers the kind of fascination we have with a reckless youth. It is blessed with natural beauty, but it's threatened by developers. It has the gift of cultural diversity, but is plagued by ethnic tension. Its nightlife is unrivaled, but the threat of violence is never far enough away. There's glitz, there's money, there's the see-and-be-seen -- and then there are neighborhoods that seem straight out of the third world. You often hear it said that truth is stranger than fiction, and nowhere is that more true than in south Florida. Where else could the United States Attorney lose his job after losing a big case, getting drunk, and biting a stripper? But it's where I live, it's where I practiced law, and it will always be an inspiration to my writing.

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    1. Hometown:
      Coral Gables, Florida
    1. Date of Birth:
      January 27, 1958
    2. Place of Birth:
      Waukegan, Illinois
    1. Education:
      B.A. with High Honors, University of Florida, 1980; J.D. with Honors, University of Florida, 1982
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

It was 5:00 A.M. and Governor Harold Swyteck had finally fallen asleep on the daybed. Rest was always elusive on execution nights, which would have been news to anyone who'd heard the governor on numerous occasions emphasizing the need to evict "those holdover tenants" on Florida's overcrowded death row. A former cop and state legislator, Harry Swyteck had campaigned for governor on a law-and-order platform that prescribed more prisons, longer sentences, and more executions as a swift and certain cure for a runaway crime rate. After sweeping into office by a comfortable margin, he'd delivered immediately on his campaign promise, signing his first death warrant on inauguration day in January 1991. In the ensuing twenty-one months, more death warrants had received the governor's John Hancock than in the previous two administrations combined.

At twenty minutes past five, a shrill ring interrupted the governor's slumber. Instinctively, Harry reached out to swat the alarm clock, but it wasn't there. The ringing continued.

The phone," his wife grumbled from across the room, snug in their bed.

The governor shook himself to full consciousness, realized he was in the daybed, and then started at the blinking red light on the security phone beside his empty half of the four-poster bed.

He stubbed his toe against the bed as he made his way toward the receiver. "Dammit! What is it?"

"Governor," came the reply, "this is security."

"I know who you are, Mel. What's the emergency?"

The guard shifted uncomfortably at his post, the way anyone would who'd just woken his boss before sunrise. "Sir, there's someone here who wants tosee you. It's about the execution."

The governor gritted his teeth, trying hard not to misdirect the anger of a stubbed toe and a sleepless night toward the man who guarded his safety. "Mel-please. You can't be waking me up every time a last-minute plea lands on my doorstep. We have channels for these things. That's why I have counsel. Call them. Now, good-"

"Sir," he gently interrupted, "I -- I understand your reaction, sir. But this one, I think, is different. Says he has information that will convince you Fernandez is innocent."

"Who is it this time?" Harry asked with a roll of his eyes. "His mother? Some friend of the family?"

"No, sir, he ... well, he says he's your son."

The governor was suddenly wide awake. "Send him in," he said, then hung up the phone. He checked the clock. Almost five-thirty. just ninety minutes left. One bell of a time for your first visit to the mansion, son.

Jack Swyteck stood stiffly on the covered front porch, not sure how to read the sullen expression on his father's face.

"Well, well," the governor said, standing in the open doorway in his monogrammed burgundy bathrobe. Jack was the governor's twenty-six-year-old son, his only offspring. Jack's mother had died a few hours after his birth. Try as he might, Harold had never quite forgiven his son for that.

"I'm here on business," Jack said quickly. "All I need is ten minutes."

The governor stared coolly across the threshold at Jack, who with the same dark, penetrating eyes was plainly his father's son. Tonight he wore faded blue jeans, a brown leather aviator's jacket, and matching boots. His rugged, broad-shouldered appearance could have made him an instant heartthrob as a country singer, though with his perfect diction and Yale law degree he was anything but country. His father had looked much the same in his twenties, and at fifty-three he was still lean and barrel-chested. He'd graduated from the University of Florida, class of '65 -- a savvy sabre-fencer who'd turned street cop, then politician. The governor was a man who could take your best shot, bounce right back, and hand you your head if you let your guard down. His son was always on guard.

"Come in," Harry said.

Jack entered the foyer, shut the door behind him, and followed his father down the main hall. The rooms were smaller than Jack had expected-elegant but simple, with high coffered ceilings and floors of oak and inlaid mahogany. Period antiques, silk Persian rugs, and crystal chandeliers were the principal furnishings. The art was original and reflected Florida's history.

"Sit down," said the governor as they stepped into the library at the end of the hall.

The dark-paneled library reminded Jack of the house in which he'd grown up. He sat in a leather armchair before the stone fireplace, his crossed legs fully extended and his boots propped up irreverently on the head of a big Alaskan brown bear that his father had years ago stopped in its tracks and turned into a rug. The governor looked away, containing his impulse to tell his son to sit up straight. He stepped behind the big oak bar and filled his old-fashioned glass with ice cubes. Jack did a double take. He thought his father had given up hard liquor-then again, this was the first time he'd seen him as Governor Swyteck. "Do you have to drink? Like I said, this is business."

The governor shot him a glance, then reached for the Chivas and filled his glass to the brim. "And this" -- he raised his glass -- "is none of your business. Cheers." He took a long sip.

Jack just watched, telling himself to focus on the reason he was there.

"So," the governor said, smacking his lips. "I can't really remember the last time we even spoke, let alone saw each other. How long has it been this time?"

Jack shrugged. "Two, two and a half years."

"Since your law-school graduation, wasn't it?"

"No" -- Jack's expression betrayed the faintest of smiles -- "since I told you I was...

The Pardon. Copyright © by James Grippando. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Table of Contents

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First Chapter

Chapter One

It was 5:00 A.M. and Governor Harold Swyteck had finally fallen asleep on the daybed. Rest was always elusive on execution nights, which would have been news to anyone who'd heard the governor on numerous occasions emphasizing the need to evict "those holdover tenants" on Florida's overcrowded death row. A former cop and state legislator, Harry Swyteck had campaigned for governor on a law-and-order platform that prescribed more prisons, longer sentences, and more executions as a swift and certain cure for a runaway crime rate. After sweeping into office by a comfortable margin, he'd delivered immediately on his campaign promise, signing his first death warrant on inauguration day in January 1991. In the ensuing twenty-one months, more death warrants had received the governor's John Hancock than in the previous two administrations combined.

At twenty minutes past five, a shrill ring interrupted the governor's slumber. Instinctively, Harry reached out to swat the alarm clock, but it wasn't there. The ringing continued.

"The phone," his wife grumbled from across the room, snug in their bed.

The governor shook himself to full consciousness, realized he was in the daybed, and then started at the blinking red light on the security phone beside his empty half of the four-poster bed.

He stubbed his toe against the bed as he made his way toward the receiver. "Dammit! What is it?"

"Governor," came the reply, "this is security."

"I know who you are, Mel. What's the emergency?"

The guard shifted uncomfortably at his post, the way anyone would who'd just woken his boss before sunrise. "Sir, there's someone here whowants to see you. It's about the execution."

The governor gritted his teeth, trying hard not to misdirect the anger of a stubbed toe and a sleepless night toward the man who guarded his safety. "Mel-please. You can't be waking me up every time a last-minute plea lands on my doorstep. We have channels for these things. That's why I have counsel. Call them. Now, good-"

"Sir," he gently interrupted, "I -- I understand your reaction, sir. But this one, I think, is different. Says he has information that will convince you Fernandez is innocent."

"Who is it this time?" Harry asked with a roll of his eyes. "His mother? Some friend of the family?"

"No, sir, he ... well, he says he's your son."

The governor was suddenly wide awake. "Send him in," he said, then hung up the phone. He checked the clock. Almost five-thirty. Just ninety minutes left. One bell of a time for your first visit to the mansion, son.

Jack Swyteck stood stiffly on the covered front porch, not sure how to read the sullen expression on his father's face.

"Well, well," the governor said, standing in the open doorway in his monogrammed burgundy bathrobe. Jack was the governor's twenty-six-year-old son, his only offspring. Jack's mother had died a few hours after his birth. Try as he might, Harold had never quite forgiven his son for that.

"I'm here on business," Jack said quickly. "All I need is ten minutes."

The governor stared coolly across the threshold at Jack, who with the same dark, penetrating eyes was plainly his father's son. Tonight he wore faded blue jeans, a brown leather aviator's jacket, and matching boots. His rugged, broad-shouldered appearance could have made him an instant heartthrob as a country singer, though with his perfect diction and Yale law degree he was anything but country. His father had looked much the same in his twenties, and at fifty-three he was still lean and barrel-chested. He'd graduated from the University of Florida, class of '65 -- a savvy sabre-fencer who'd turned street cop, then politician. The governor was a man who could take your best shot, bounce right back, and hand you your head if you let your guard down. His son was always on guard.

"Come in," Harry said.

Jack entered the foyer, shut the door behind him, and followed his father down the main hall. The rooms were smaller than Jack had expected-elegant but simple, with high coffered ceilings and floors of oak and inlaid mahogany. Period antiques, silk Persian rugs, and crystal chandeliers were the principal furnishings. The art was original and reflected Florida's history.

"Sit down," said the governor as they stepped into the library at the end of the hall.

The dark-paneled library reminded Jack of the house in which he'd grown up. He sat in a leather armchair before the stone fireplace, his crossed legs fully extended and his boots propped up irreverently on the head of a big Alaskan brown bear that his father had years ago stopped in its tracks and turned into a rug. The governor looked away, containing his impulse to tell his son to sit up straight. He stepped behind the big oak bar and filled his old-fashioned glass with ice cubes. Jack did a double take. He thought his father had given up hard liquor-then again, this was the first time he'd seen him as Governor Swyteck. "Do you have to drink? Like I said, this is business."

The governor shot him a glance, then reached for the Chivas and filled his glass to the brim. "And this" -- he raised his glass -- "is none of your business. Cheers." He took a long sip.

Jack just watched, telling himself to focus on the reason he was there.

"So," the governor said, smacking his lips. "I can't really remember the last time we even spoke, let alone saw each other. How long has it been this time?"

Jack shrugged. "Two, two and a half years."

"Since your law-school graduation, wasn't it?"

"No" -- Jack's expression betrayed the faintest of smiles -- "since I told you I was...

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