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A King's Ransom

A King's Ransom

4.2 22
by James Grippando

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The author of five bestselling novels, including Under Cover of Darkness and The Pardon, James Grippando writes compulsively readable thrillers that could be drawn from today's headlines, only better. Now his trademark gifts are wonderfully demonstrated in a taut new tale of intrigue that will keep you guessing to the final, breathtaking scene.

Just two years


The author of five bestselling novels, including Under Cover of Darkness and The Pardon, James Grippando writes compulsively readable thrillers that could be drawn from today's headlines, only better. Now his trademark gifts are wonderfully demonstrated in a taut new tale of intrigue that will keep you guessing to the final, breathtaking scene.

Just two years out of law school, Nick Rey is on the career fast track at a hot Miami law firm when he is suddenly plunged headfirst into a dangerous bid to save his father. Matthew Rey has been kidnapped while on business in Columbia's exotic port city of Cartagena. The ransom demand of three million dollars is far more than the Rey family can ever hope to raise.

Fortunately, Matthew had purchased an insurance policy to protect against just such a threat. Unfortunately, the kidnappers seem to know all about the policy, and the insurance company, suspecting fraud, is refusing to pay out. With nowhere to turn, Nick links up with Alex, a beautiful, street-smart woman who may be the only person capable of negotiating with Matthew's abductors. But Nick soon discovers that the gravest dangers to him and his family are not the kidnappers and their guns, but the men in suits: lawyers, to be exact, at a powerful firm with something to hide, and they will stop at nothing to keep Nick from unleashing the truth.

Editorial Reviews

Robert Crais
Part Michael Crichton techno-thriller, part James Cameron monster movie, and all Gregg Andrew Hurwitz page-turner, Minutes to Burn is a great good time of a read! The science is fascinating, the story is exciting, and the plot moves with the unstoppable precision of a SEAL team mounting an assault. Buy this book and bring it to the beach...but read it in the shade.
James Thayer
Hurwitz's crew in Minutes to Burn are the hardest, orneriest, funniest soldiers since The Dirty Dozen. The novel has a breakneck drive, chilling realism, and graveyard tension. Hang on to your hat.
Richard Marcinko
Gregg Andrew Hurwitz captures the warrior spirit of the past and takes us to a future where science unleashes discoveries that society has yet to comprehend. This "new breed" of SEALs overcome their personal vulernabilities to do what has always been and will always be paramount...Complete The Mission!
Jan Burke
Get ready to stay up all night—Gregg Andrew Hurwitz is about to take you on a rollercoaster ride to a fierce and unforgiving near future. Action-adventure and thriller fans, take note—if you want to read someone who writes with the intelligence of Crichton, the military tech know-how of Clancy, and the spine-tingling intensity of Koontz, allow me to introduce you to Gregg Andrew Hurwitz—you're going to love Minutes to Burn.
Barbara Parker
Will kidnap your imagination from the first heart-pounding scene. —National bestselling author of Suspicion of Betrayal
Orlando Sentinel
Races along.
At the top of the thriller genre.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Attorney-turned-novelist Grippando's (Under Cover of Darkness; Found Money) sixth effort kicks off when Matthew Rey, a Florida fisherman with a partnership in a Nicaraguan seafood operation, is kidnapped while on business in Colombia by a group of Marxist guerrillas led by a sadistic soldier named Joaqu n. Matthew is dragged off to the mountains and his son, Nick, a young Florida lawyer, receives a ransom demand and tries to get his father back through official channels. Bad move: it turns out Matthew and his partner, Guillermo Cruz, are under suspicion of running drugs. Nick also learns that Matthew had kidnap-and-ransom insurance for the precise amount demanded by Joaqu n. To make matters worse, the insurance provider is a client of Nick's law firm, and refuses to pay the claim, accusing Nick and Matthew of conspiracy and fraud. Nick is legally outmaneuvered by his boss scheming senior partner Duncan Fitz and booted out of the firm. Broke, desperate and under suspicion of several felonies, he receives help from beautiful kidnapping negotiator Alex Cabrera and his ex-fianc e, Jenna, who's also a lawyer. Naturally, he finds himself torn between his lost love and his growing affection for the mysterious Alex. Meanwhile, Matthew is a helpless witness to scenes of gang rape, torture and murder perpetrated by Joaqu n and his thugs. Outflanked and running out of time, Nick delves into his father's business dealings and slowly uncovers a massive conspiracy. Grippando's experience as a trial lawyer shows in his depiction of Nick's frantic legal moves to clear his family's name; his extensive research into the kidnapping industry currently thriving in Latin America adds a harrowing dose of realism to a taut, well-constructed page-turner that seems destined for the big screen. Agents, Richard and Artie Pine. National advertising; six-city author tour. (May 14) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Lawyer Nick Rey's father is kidnapped while on a business trip to Colombia. No one wants to cooperate in freeing him: not the State Department, not the FBI, not the insurance company from which he purchased kidnap and ransom insurance. Nick is on his own except for the help of beautiful Alex, a professional negotiator. It's an interesting, timely, and well-constructed plot. Unfortunately, the characters are flat: Nick and his family are good and innocent to the point of being irritating, while the villains are a completely brutal and evil bunch. Narrator John B. Lloyd is also irritating, particularly his heavy accent when portraying Hispanic characters. A marginal purchase for most libraries. Christine Valentine, Davenport Univ., Kalamazoo, MI Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Navy SEALs go to the Galapagos to battle anything that moves in a rousing actioner reminiscent of Jurassic Park, The Dirty Dozen, Lord of the Flies, and maybe even Beowulf. In the year 2007, hurricanes and earthquakes are making life miserable throughout the Western Hemisphere. Two scientists are dispatched to Sangre de Dios in the Galapagos Islands to mount instruments that will help track the canes and quakes. But they can't do it alone. Enter a half-dozen SEALs, half-soiled if not actually dirty, to assist and protect the scientists, then see them home safely once the mission is completed. And what an infelicitous mix of trained SEALs it is, ranging from the brave, admirable, pregnant Cameron Kates to the wild, woolly, and aptly named William Savage. At the outset, the SEALs regard this mission as a cakewalk, almost not worth getting their game-faces on for. Soon enough, however, they learn that Nature is never to be underrated. First, a hellish aftershock maroons them. Next, they discover that a new strain of ecological virus, a baby bubonic plague as it were, is running rampant on Sangre de Dios. Unsettling stuff, clearly, but nothing compared to that band of mantids: monstrous, man-eating, nine-foot-tall insects produced by a series of unfortunate biological mutations. Pressure builds, the SEALs snarl at each other, and a mini-mutiny breaks out, while the murderously intelligent mantids stalk and make terrible inroads among them. Cameron, however, keeps on keeping on, bravely and admirably ignoring her physical limitations and eventually triumphing the way all right-thinking readers will want her to. Vivid cast, engrossing story. Hurwitz (The Tower, 1999) demonstrates onceagain that he's a thriller writer to be reckoned with.

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Chapter One

Some called it a crown jewel. Others said it was a diamond in the rough, with the emphasis on rough. It was a matter of perspective, whether Cartagena stood apart from the violence that besieged Colombia or was shrinking in its shadow.

It was one of the Caribbean's most striking port cities, a special blend of colonial heritage, natural beauty, and salsa into the wee hours. The top attraction was the old town, a city within the city, surrounded by nearly six miles of impressive fortress walls that were built under four centuries of Spanish reign. There were smaller marvels too, like cazuela de mariscos, a local seafood soup with chunks of cassava instead of potatoes -- deliciosa! The crowded beaches on the Bocagrande peninsula weren't spectacular, but white sand and turquoise seas were close enough at Playa Blanca or, even better, Islas del Rosario. Throughout the city, colonial mansions painted in pastels and electric blue stood as reminders that the overall feeling here was decidedly tropical, in no small part Afro-Caribbean. Glorified by countless artists and writers over the centuries, Cartagena continued to evoke romantic sentiments as a unique place that, despite the influx of luxury condos, managed to retain the feel of Old San Juan and Havana in its heyday. It was, after all, the official "sister city" to beautiful Coral Gables, Florida.

Yet behind the exotic intrigue, beyond the hopeful hype of tourist agents, lurked an element of danger that was a fact of life in modern-day Colombia. Especially for an American.

Matthew Rey had visited Colombia before and was aware of the tragic headlines.Eleven sport fishermen kidnapped on their boat off Barranquilla. Busloads of children commandeered on their way to school in Ocaña, north of Bogotá. More than a hundred churchgoers taken at gunpoint in the middle of a Catholic mass in Cali. As a businessman, Matthew didn't deny the risks of a country besieged by four decades of civil war. As a fisherman, he savored the natural beauty, albeit from a half mile offshore.

Matthew was in the commercial fishing business, which was big business indeed. He'd started his company in Miami with a rusted but trusted old lobster boat and a mountain of debt. Twenty years later he was part owner of Rey's Seafood Company with forty boats and two processing plants in Nicaragua. With the United States importing more than eighteen million pounds of edible fish weekly from Central and South America, he was always looking for new equipment, opportunities for expansion.

It was that kind of thinking that had brought him to Colombia.

"Hector!" he shouted.

He got no reply. He tried again, louder. "Hector!"

Hector Díaz was one of six Nicaraguan crewmen that Matthew had brought to Cartagena to overhaul three old shrimp boats and bring them back to the Mosquito Coast. They were the Niña, the Pinta, and the Coco Loco. It was just a hunch, but something told Matthew they weren't originally a set. All three were anchored side by side in the bay like a pontoon bridge, close enough together for the workers to step from one to the next. A noisy generator on the Pinta, the middle boat, powered the working lights and welding tools for all three, making it impossible for Matthew to be heard from one boat to the next.

He switched off the generator. The lights went out, the noise stopped. It was just past sunset, but the afterglow afforded just enough natural light for the men to see each other.

"You done fixing the head yet?" asked Matthew.

Hector had been working on the plumbing all afternoon. "All but the marble tile and Kohler bidet, boss."

He was a habitual wisecracker but worth the trouble, as he and his son Liván could be trusted to sail just about anything from Punto A to Punto B, even three old shrimp boats. Hector was half Miskito Indian, and in Matthew's book the Miskitos were the greatest fishermen on earth. For centuries their tribe had fished the Caribbean along Nicaragua's Mosquito Coast. Tall and lean, the Miskitos were natural divers, and in his prime Hector had been a top lobster diver. His skills were legendary, like the story of the time he and Matthew got lost in a blinding storm at sea. Hector promptly jumped off the boat and dived down thirty-five feet for a good look around the reef. In a matter of minutes he popped back up and told Matthew to turn the boat around and hold the course steady for about three hours. They sailed into port two hours and forty-five minutes later. Only then did Matthew fully appreciate the way the Miskitos knew their ocean -- top and bottom -- like their own backyard.

Matthew smiled and shouted back, joking, "You're worthless, you know that?"

"That's why I work for you, boss."

Matthew snarled, but it was just a game they played. In truth, he envied Hector. Fishing had been a long tradition in the Díaz family, passed on from father to son for generations of Miskitos. Matthew had a son too, but not the same bond that Hector and Liván shared.

The sun was gone, the orange and purple afterglow fading. All along the rim of the bay, city lights emerged as twilight turned to darkness. Cartagena was coming to life. The parties would soon begin in earnest. The first time Matthew had visited the city, he'd ended up playing the accordion in some bar that boasted authentic vallenato music of the local costeño people. He couldn't vouch for the music, but the one-fifty rum had delivered as promised. That was twenty years ago. Cartagena had changed much since then. He'd changed, too. Coke instead of beer and rum, and his bladder wasn't what it used to be. Just one stinking soda and already he had to break the proverbial pee seal.

A King's Ransom . Copyright © by James Grippando. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

James Grippando is a New York Times bestselling author of twenty-five novels. He was a trial lawyer for twelve years before the publication of his first novel in 1994 (The Pardon), and later served 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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King's Ransom 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this informative and gripping tale. It detailed a kidnapping and ransom demand of a victim taken in Colombia. I was shocked to find out that kidnapping is basically a form of employment in Colombia and the 'employers' and their 'employees' are well-organized, cold and ruthless. Mr. Grippando has taken a very ugly subject, done his homework, and treated it with style and sensitivity. It is fast-paced and lucid, even incorporating some necessary humor. If you like the thorough research of Nelson Demille and David Baldacci, and the legal slant of John Grisham's books, then you will love the painstaking work that James Grippando has done to make this work authentic and interesting.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read all of James Grippando's books since The Abduction and they keep getting better and better. King's Ransom has very likeable characters and keeps you coming back to see what happens. Great book!!
Ocilla More than 1 year ago
Very interesting. I liked all the different locales. He did a great job on the storyline.
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major540 More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the book
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highstandard More than 1 year ago
I was introduced to James Grippando through the free nookbook offers. I like his style. He is descriptive without being boring. It is difficult to maintain a balance between giving the reader a sense of the details of the place, the relationships, and keeping the plot progressing smoothly. Grippando has that ability and I look forward to reading more of his novels. His research seems to be thorough and he has the ability to keep the reader guessing until the end.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Experienced voice performer/actor John Bedford Lloyd is given a bit of a challenge here as the narrative point of view shifts from a young man to an older man. Plus, there is quite a bit of commentary by Colombian henchman. He carries this of well, perhaps drawing on his extensive film and TV work. Florida fisherman Matthew Rey is kidnaped and a ransom note demanding 3 million dollars is sent to his son, Nick, an up-and-coming young attorney with a prestigious Miami law firm. Matthew was snatched while on a business trip to Colombia. Of course, Nick can't raise that kind of money but every imaginable obstacle is thrown in his way as he tries to free his father through appropriate channels. Little did Nick know that his father was suspected of drug smuggling or that his father had purchased an insurance policy to protect against kidnaping in the exact same amount of money that the kidnappers are demanding. The insurance company smells fraud, and refuses to pay. Nick's law firm, for dark reasons of its own, fires Nick. The only lifeline left for his father is through Alex, a beautiful negotiator. While Nick is using every means he can to gain his father's freedom, Matthew, for the first time, is an eye witness to the atrocities being committed by the Colombian guerrillas. A former attorney, Grippando well knows the legal morass his protagonist is trying to penetrate and describes it to a T as suspense mounts. This author has a gift for crafting complex yet fascinating scenarios. (The Pardon and Under Cover of Darkness). - Gail Cooke
Guest More than 1 year ago
With a theme as contemporary as today's glaring headlines and a scenario as chilling as our worst nightmare James Grippando has crafted his sixth thriller. While Matthew Rey, an entrepreneurial commercial fisherman is in Colombia, he is kidnaped by a violent band of guerrillas whose leader, Joaquin, gives sadism a new dimension. Matthew's son, Nick, an up-and-coming Florida lawyer, receives a ransom demand for three million dollars. Unbeknownst to Nick that is the exact amount of a kidnaping insurance policy recently purchased by Matthew. As attempts to rescue Matthew through the State Department prove futile, Nick turns to senior attorney, Duncan Fit, for help. Duncan proves to be both two-faced and double-dealing as he dismisses Nick, and informs him that the law firm will represent an insurance company in a fraud suit against Nick and his family. Out of a job and charged with several felonies, Nick seeks the assistance of stunning Alex Cabrera, a kidnaping negotiator. Grippando's years of experience as a trial lawyer are evident in his taut description of Nick's uphill battle against Colombian guerillas, government agencies, and his former law firm.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read another of the author's books, Found Money, and reviewed it very favorably. For the same reasons I liked that book, I highly recommend this one. They both have very realistic plots and characters crafted to form great thrillers. Reality is what makes a thriller in my view (if not, I would read science fiction). This is a great thriller and a great summer read--unless you're vacationing in Colombia!
Guest More than 1 year ago
While on a business trip in Clombia's export city of Cartagena, Matthew Rey is kidnapped...the terms, a ransom demand of three million dollars. Fresh out of law school, Nick Rey is devastated by the news of the kidnapping, but he will do whatever is needed to get his father back alive. While looking into his family's finances, Nick finds a kidnapping insurance policy for three million dollars, exactly the amount the kidnappers are looking for. Once the claim is put through, Alex Cabrera is the woman in charge of the Rey case, and her job is to negotiate with the kidnappers, and have them settle for less than their asking price, but during all this something goes wrong and the insurance company denies payment. Alex, aware that something bizzare is going on, teams up with Nick to find his father, and find out why the FBI are investiagting Matthew's company, and claiming fraud. With no one to trust, Nick and Alex must work together to bring Matthew home alive, and stop a group of lawyers who will stop at nothing to keep their secrets hidden. 'A King's Ransom' is an action-packed, suspencer, that keeps you riveted from the first page. As the plot unwinds - it twists and turns, and has enough shocks to keep you reading through the night. James Grippando is one of the BEST suspense authors writing today, and his fans will be satisfied with his latest entry in a long line of great novels. The season of 'the page-turning, must read beach book' has begun, and 'A King's Ransom' is the first entry in that category. BUY THIS BOOK you will not be disappointed. Nick Gonnella
harstan More than 1 year ago
Guerilleros in Columbia attack the boats owned by visiting businessman Matthew Rey, co-owner of Rey Seafood Company. During the raid, the criminals killed innocent workers and abducted Matthew in anticipation of making a fortune since he owns an American business.

Matthew¿s son Nick, an attorney at a Miami law firm learns about the kidnapping. He turns to the FBI for help, but they turn to bureaucratic hiding behind an alleged spat with the State Department. Nick soon learns that the Feds believe his father is involved with drug trafficking, but actually want to nail the business partner, Nicaraguan Guillermo Cruz. Even his law firm, which was supportive of Nick, turns ugly and fires him by accusing him and his father of trying to commit an insurance fraud. Not able to obtain help from the normal channels, Nick turns elsewhere to an outside professional negotiator to save his father from what is becoming a cash crop in Columbia, kidnapping of people.

A KING¿S RANSOM is an exciting thriller that never slows down as Nick¿s struggles to rescue his father crashes into bureaucracy and conspiracy. The story line is fast-paced, filled with action, and frightening as it rings so genuine. Nick is a great workaholic but it is the diverse support cast with their depth of characterizations that provides the novel its feeling of reality while propelling James Grippando¿s gripping tale forward.

Harriet Klausner