When Darkness Falls (Jack Swyteck Series #6)
  • When Darkness Falls (Jack Swyteck Series #6)
  • When Darkness Falls (Jack Swyteck Series #6)

When Darkness Falls (Jack Swyteck Series #6)

4.2 48
by James Grippando

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In the latest novel from the bestselling author whom critics have called "the thriller writer to watch," lawyer Jack Swyteck tackles a case in which the life of his best friend hangs in the balance-and in which nothing is as it seems.

Miami criminal defense attorney Jack Swyteck isn't looking for a new client, at least not one who is homeless and in jail for

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In the latest novel from the bestselling author whom critics have called "the thriller writer to watch," lawyer Jack Swyteck tackles a case in which the life of his best friend hangs in the balance-and in which nothing is as it seems.

Miami criminal defense attorney Jack Swyteck isn't looking for a new client, at least not one who is homeless and in jail for threatening to jump off a bridge. But from the moment Jack is called to defend the man, who goes by the name Falcon, something is amiss. For one thing, Falcon comes up with the $10,000 bail-in cash. Then the body of a brutally murdered woman is found in the trunk of the abandoned car in which he is living.

Panicked and on the run, Falcon takes Jack's best friend, Theo, hostage. They end up barricaded in a motel room, and Theo isn't the only one at Falcon's mercy. Jack must work with the cops and their crackerjack negotiator to free Theo and the other captives before Falcon decides he has nothing to lose by killing them all.

What Jack doesn't know is that Falcon has a much bigger agenda, and that there are people behind the scenes who will stop at nothing to keep their dangerous secrets. Thus unfolds a riveting, lightning-paced story, as only James Grippando can tell it.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A tense hostage crisis in Miami propels the action in bestseller Grippando's solid sixth thriller to feature criminal defense lawyer Jack Swyteck (after Got the Look). Jack represents an armed homeless man known as Falcon, who takes among his hostages in a seedy motel Jack's best friend, Theo Knight, an innocent man the lawyer once pulled off death row at the last minute. Vincent Paulo, the recently blinded negotiator, has been dating the one person Falcon insists on talking with, police officer Alicia Mendoza, who also happens to be the mayor's daughter. With strands reaching back to Argentina's dirty war, the plot relies heavily on coincidence, but engaging characters, notably the blind Vincent ("People either pity me to death and think that I can't possibly manage a minute of my life without a sighted person holding my hand, or they think I've been magically transformed into some kind of blind mystic with extrasensory powers"), will help readers overlook the implausibilities. (Jan.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
When Miami attorney Jack Swyteck agrees to defend Falcon, a homeless man living in an abandoned car, he soon finds out that his client is far more complex than he could have ever imagined. Throughout, Falcon's mysterious past unravels, from his obsession with the mayor's daughter to the $200,000 cache he's hidden in an offshore bank account. Swyteck's role quickly turns from lawyer to hostage negotiator as Falcon acts out his delusions in unexpected ways, taking some of Miami's more prominent citizens on a harrowing ride with the ghosts of his past. Grippando's (Lying with Strangers) sixth installment in the Swyteck series once again features Theo, the sidekick whom Swyteck saved from death row. The duo must prevent Falcon from acting out his desperate, paranoid agenda and destroying more lives. If Falcon's secrets ever get out, the whole political foundation of Miami will be shattered. Combining the heart-pounding pace of a David Baldacci novel and the sharp wit of William Lashner fare, Grippando builds on his r sum of best-selling legal thrillers with another winner. Recommended for all fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 9/15/06.]-Ken Bolton, Cornell Univ. Lib., Ithaca, NY Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Funky-chic South Florida mise-en-scene and macho-jokey dialogue qualify the sixth in the Jack Swyteck series as movie-ready. Deranged and homeless, Falcon teeters atop Miami's tallest bridge, threatening a nose-dive, while blind Sergeant Vincent Paulo tries talking him down. From the get-go, it's beaucoups suspense-and then Grippando (Lying with Strangers, 2006, etc.) puts pedal to metal. Enter D.A. Swyteck, Grippando's savvy but oddly nondescript hero. He's representing the saved Falcon, now charged with creating a public nuisance and possessing crack. He's also on heavy watch because one of his I'll-off-myself-if demands was to chat up Alicia Mendoza, Paulo's ex-squeeze, the mayor's luscious daughter and a cop to boot. Shockingly making $10,000 bail by dipping into his Cayman Island strongbox, Falcon flies free, but then draws serious heat when a body is found stuffed in his trunk. On the lam, he holes up in a flea-bag hotel after seizing as hostage Swyteck's sidekick, Theo Knight-"a cross between The Rock and a young Samuel L. Jackson on steroids." Turns out, also inside are a couple of Latina hookers and their john, the unctuous local weatherman. A white-knuckle standoff ensues, with the obligatory SWAT crew and Paulo/Swyteck as tag-team negotiators. Things get complex (for a thriller) when cornered desperado Falcon begins freaking on flashbacks-torture cells in Argentina's dirty war; unmentionable things done to pregnant women. Paulo and Alicia try to rekindle their spark, but Paulo's got a weird suspicion about Alicia's dad. Swyteck, too, thinks the mayor's suspect when he hears that one of Mendoza's bodyguards had pow-wowed with Falcon before Falcon went gun-happy. As Falconself-combusts, so, too, do Alicia's illusions about her father, and a fine, but by-the-numbers, action tale takes on deeper dimensions. Filled with hostages, hush money and Miami vice, but it's the relentless pacing that makes this one sizzle.
“By far the best in the series.”
Washington Post
“Well written . . . gripping.”
Harlan Coben
“Pardon the pun, but Grippando grips from the first page.”

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Jack Swyteck Series, #6
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

Read an Excerpt

When Darkness Falls

By James Grippando

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2007 James Grippando
All right reserved.

Chapter One

Sergeant Vincent Paulo couldn't see the man who had climbed to the very top of the William Powell Bridge. Paulo couldn't even see the damn bridge. He heard the desperation in the man's voice, however, and he knew this one was a jumper. After seven years as a crisis negotiator with the City of Miami Police Department, there were some things you just knew, even if you were blind.

Especially if you were blind.

"Falcon," he called out for the umpteenth time, his voice amplified by a police megaphone. "This is Vincent Paulo you're talking to. We can work this out, all right?"

The man was atop a lamppost--as high in the sky as he could possibly get--looking down from his roost. The views of Miami had to be spectacular from up there. Paulo, however, could only imagine the blue-green waters of the bay, the high-rise condominiums along the waterfront like so many dominoes ready to topple in a colossal chain reaction. Cruise ships, perhaps, were headed slowly out to sea, trails of white smoke puffing against a sky so blue that no cloud dared to disturb it. Traffic, they told him, was backed up for miles in each direction, west toward the mainland and east toward the island of Key Biscayne. There were squad cars, a SWAT van, teams of police officers, police boats in the bay, and a legion of media vans and reporters swarming the bridge. Paulo could hear the helicopterswhirring all around, as local news broadcasted the entire episode live into South Florida living rooms.

All this, for one of Miami's homeless. He called himself Falcon, and the name was a perfect fit. He was straddling the lamppost, his legs intertwined with the metalwork so that he could stand erect without holding on to anything. He was a life-size imitation of an old-fashioned hood ornament, without the chrome finish--chin up, chest out, his body extended out over the water, arms outstretched like the wings of a bird. Like a falcon. Paulo had a uniformed officer at his side to describe the situation to him, but she was hardly needed. It wasn't the first time Paulo had been called upon to stop one of Miami's homeless from hurting himself. It wasn't even his first encounter with Falcon. Twice in the past eighteen months, Falcon had climbed atop a bridge and assumed the same falcon-like pose. Each time, Paulo had talked him down. But this time was different.

It was Vince's first assignment since losing his eyesight.

And for the first time, he was absolutely convinced that this one was going to jump.

"Falcon, just come down and talk. It's the best way for everyone."

"No more bullshit!" he shouted. "I want to talk to the mayor's daughter. Get her here in fifteen minutes, or I'm doing a face plant onto the old bridge."

The Powell Bridge is like a big arc over Biscayne Bay. Cyclists call it "Miami Mountain," though as suicides go, it is no match for the Golden Gate in San Francisco or the George Washington in New York. The crest is only seventy-eight feet above mean tide. Even with the added thirty vertical feet of the lamppost, it was debatable whether Falcon's plunge into the bay would be fatal. The old causeway runs parallel to the new bridge, however, and it is still used as a fishing pier. A hundred-foot swan dive onto solid concrete wouldn't be pretty--especially on live television.

"You ready to punt yet, Paulo?" The voice came from over Vince's left shoulder, and he recognized the speaker as Juan Chavez, SWAT team coordinator.

Vince cut off his megaphone. "Let's talk to the chief."

The walk back to the police van was clear of obstacles, and Vince had memorized the way. His long white walking stick was almost unnecessary. He and Chavez entered the van through the side door and sat across from one another in the rear captains' chairs. An officer outside the van slid the door closed as Chavez dialed headquarters on an encrypted telephone. The call went directly to Miami's chief of police, who was watching the standoff on television. Her first words weren't exactly the vote of confidence Vince needed.

"It's been over two hours now, Paulo. I'm not seeing much progress."

"It took me almost twice that long to talk him down from the Golden Glades flyover last winter."

"I understand that," said the chief. "I guess what I'm asking is, are you comfortable doing this?"

"Now that I'm blind, you mean?"

"Don't get me wrong. I'm glad you decided to stay with the force and teach at the academy. I called you back into the field because you have a history with this guy, but the last thing I want to do is to put you in a situation that you don't think you can handle."

"I can handle it fine, Chief."

"Great, but time is a factor. I shouldn't have to remind you that no one in Miami keeps gloves in the glove compartment. If this sucker doesn't climb down soon, one of those stranded motorists is going to reach for his revolver and take him out for us."

"I say we move in now," said Chavez.

Vince said, "Don't you think a three-oh-eight-caliber, custom-built thunderstick is a bit of overkill against a homeless guy perched on a lamppost?"

"No one's talking about a sniper shot. I just want to move our team closer into position, make them more visible. We need to send a message that our patience is wearing thin."

"If he thinks SWAT is coming up there after him, he'll jump."

"The same tactic worked just fine the last time."

"This time is different."

"How do you know?"

"I can tell."

"What, going blind made you psychic?"

That made Vince blink, but dark sunglasses hid plenty of pain. "Shove it, Chavez."

"All right, fellas, knock it off," said the chief.

"I'm serious," said Chavez. "This isn't the first time we've had to deal with a homeless guy threatening to hurt himself. Nine times out of ten, they just want a little attention. I'd like to know what makes Paulo think this is the real deal." "That seems like a fair question," said the chief.

"All right," said Vince. "For one, it may be his third time up on a bridge, but it's the first time that Falcon has made a specific demand. And it's a fairly rational one at that. It's not as if he wants us to make the bubble people stop stealing his thoughts. Just as important, he's set a time limit. A short one--fifteen minutes. You factor in the stress in his voice, and you've got a man on the edge."

"Wait a minute," said Chavez. "Because he shows some signs of clear-headed thinking, that makes him more of a danger to himself?"

"In some ways, yes. The only way Falcon climbs down from that lamppost is if he gives up on his demand to talk to the mayor's daughter. Because he still shows some signs of rational thought, he will very likely feel overwhelming humiliation when the television world sees him fail. If we send the SWAT team up that pole before he's ready to accept his public failure, you might as well push him off the bridge yourself."

"How about soaking him with a fire hose?" said the chief. "Or maybe a stun gun."

"There again, we're on live television," said Vince. "You knock him off that lamppost and we'll have two dozen personal-injury lawyers handing him business cards before he hits the ground."

There was silence, each officer thinking it through. Finally, the chief said, "I suppose we could promise to give him what he wants."

"You mean let him talk to the mayor's daughter?" said Vince.

"No, I said promise it. That's his only demand, right?"

"Bad move," said Vince. "A negotiator never promises anything he can't deliver. Or that he has no intention of delivering."

"For once I agree with Paulo," said Chavez. "But I think--"

Vince waited for him to finish, but Chavez seemed to have lost his train of thought. "You think what?" said Vince.

"I think it doesn't matter what we think. The mayor's daughter is here." "What?"

"I can see her through the windshield right now."

Vince picked up the sound of approaching footsteps outside the van. The side door slid open, and he could feel her presence. "Hello, Vince," she said.


Excerpted from When Darkness Falls by James Grippando Copyright © 2007 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.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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