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The Pardon (Jack Swyteck Series #1)

The Pardon (Jack Swyteck Series #1)

3.8 112
by James Grippando

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Jack Swyteck, a brilliant Miami defense attorney has spent years rebelling against his father, Harry, now Florida's governor. Their estrangement seems complete when Harry allows one of Jack's clients — a man Jack believes is innocent — to die in the electric chair.

But when a psychopath bent on serving his own twisted version of justice places both


Jack Swyteck, a brilliant Miami defense attorney has spent years rebelling against his father, Harry, now Florida's governor. Their estrangement seems complete when Harry allows one of Jack's clients — a man Jack believes is innocent — to die in the electric chair.

But when a psychopath bent on serving his own twisted version of justice places both Jack and Harry in extreme jeopardy, the two have nowhere to turn but to each other. Together they must find a way to overcome their cunning tormentor's manipulation . . . even as the stakes are being raised to far more perilous heights.

Editorial Reviews

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.
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!
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
Thomas Gaughan
Jack Swyteck, son of Florida's law and order governor, Harry Swyteck, makes his living defending the very people his father has sworn to fry in the state's electric chair. The long-strained relationship between father and son seems irrevocably torn when the governor turns down his son's bid for an eleventh-hour commutation of a death sentence. But the death sentence Jack fails to stop unleashes a cunning psychopath bent on destroying father and son. Between the chilling opening scene of the hours before an inmate's execution and the climactic meeting between Jack and his nemesis, author Grippando, a Miami attorney, rachets the tension up every few pages. "The Pardon" is a promising, cleverly plotted, and taut first novel.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Jack Swyteck Series , #1
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.20(w) x 7.50(h) x 1.10(d)

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.

What People are Saying About This

'Paul Levine
"Move over John Grisham! The legal thriller of the year!"
Tampa Tribune
"The Pardon arrives with the pistol-shot crack of a gavel cutting through a courtroom."

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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Pardon 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 112 reviews.
MJDavis More than 1 year ago
The Pardon is a well written story, that will keep you interested until the very end. The characters are well developed, and I felt empathy with them. However, I did not give this book 5 stars because I felt there were gaps in the story: how did we get from there to here in several situations. Plus there were grammar mistakes and misspellings. Not that big a deal but I am a word person, and these things distracted me. I will read more books by this author; he tells a good tale.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great reading, good style of writing, good usage of words, strong characterization. Plot and storyline, interesting and intriguing. It drew me in and kept me in until the last page. I am an avid reader, I have come to know the talented writers from the not so talented. I highly recommend reading this book and hope you enjoy it as much.
Debrajay9 More than 1 year ago
I was looking for a new series to read since I have pretty much exhausted Michael Connelly and Harlan Coben. While this book was not in their league, I did enjoy the book and would like to read the next in the series to see how the characters develop. A little predictable, but a good read nonetheless.
booksonmynook More than 1 year ago
Really great book. Kept me entertained all the way.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This novel is nothing more than pure, unadulterated fun. It has little substance, more than a few cliches, and some eye-roll inducing plot twists, but it gets you hooked. It's hard to stop reading once you've begun. Perfect for a long, relaxing day at the beach.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Now I will admit, it takes a little while to get into this book. But, once you get into the plot and get a feel for the characters, you're HOOKED!! Outstanding book - I got to a point where I just had to find out how this one would end. I also happened upon this author at my local library. I'm glad I found it, becuause I'm a big Grippando fan now!! I'm heading out to get some more of his work, absolutely!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book has a ton of action for anyone. It is more of a man's book because of some of the actions some people do, but if you can handle the first 100 pages without throwing it down your in for a ride of your life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoy this series of books. I had never read #1 in the series and was delighted to find it, quite by accident, for my nook. I enjoyed it very much and got a real kick out of talk about car phones, Ford Pintos and other outdated classics. Ahhh, the fun of memories. This book was very enjoyable. I loved knowing how much the author's books have improved in all areas, since this first one. I looking forward to the movie based on this series, which is now in production. To the reviewer complaining about grammer nazis, Grammer is important, without these skills of proper communication and punctuation, of being unable to express yourself properly, you brand yourself as being uneducated. In this day and age, these skills are vital for jobs, personal image and self respect. Are you dependent on a computer, which might break down and leave you unable to write the simpliest sentence? Perhaps you are not bothered by erratta because you can not recognize it, not learning it at some point in your life. I too, dislike plot spoilers. There are some rather gory descriptions, a few curse words, a dab of sex and romance. Mostly it is just a good novel. I recommend this book to readers of mysteries of all ages, both sexes. AD
JPA More than 1 year ago
This was the first time I read the lst in the series. I will go for the next in the series. Swyteck has given me another good author to read. I usually stick to conservative legal mysteries. Reading this was a pleasant surprise. I do recommend this as a good change for readers that are not prone to change.
Harleywdo More than 1 year ago
This was a great book, intense, twists and turns. The mistakes were glaring and bulled me out of the story! Please get a better proof reader!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was expecting taut, tight courtroom drama. What I got was suspense but hardly taut or tight. While I didn't notice any huge grammatical problems (perhaps they have been corrected by now) there are a number of huge unfilled holes in the plot. The protagonist is incredibly stupid as is his father and the defense lawyer. I only surmise he and they were made so as a tool to aid in the introduction of complex plot developments. Nobody is really that stupid or compounds that many stupid moves with even more stupidity. It is a first effort so I give it 2 stars. The author has written numerous novels now and I will plan on trying one of the most recent in the series in the hope that Jack has grown a brain in the interim.
azphily More than 1 year ago
I just read the book, and immediatly bought his seccond book before i finished Pardon. I will read every thing James Grippando Writes. I really like the way he grabs you into the story. I read Pardon in a day. It's a good thing i have a nook that way i was able to read the next book in the series instead of having to look for it in a store. I am an avid reader of this kind of book that James wrote. Thanks Barnes &Noble for recommending this as a book i might like. Thanks James
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Held my interest
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A little slow a first but once it gets going it is hard to put down.
Drewano 3 months ago
‘The Pardon’ just didn’t do it for me. First of all it really takes until about one-third of the way through the book to get the story going, before that it’s all background and filler. Second is that from a legal standpoint the plot had more holes and the golf course. First off the case against Jack is very very weak that even a person who just took a general business law class in school could argue against it. Second is that all the witnesses are surprise when in real life potential witnesses need to be disclosed during discovery (generally) so to me it made no sense. It’s a bit suspenseful in the end but by that time I had decided that the story just wasn’t for me.
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otterly More than 1 year ago
I'll start off by saying that I did not care for the literary device of having the bad guy kill Jack Swyteck's dog! That put a damper on the whole thing for me. His father was running for reelection as governor of Florida, and his girlfriend got kidnapped. Before we even get into the book, we are told how it came to be. I have read, and enjoyed better, other Grippando books. Not sure if I would recommend it to a book group.
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c5b More than 1 year ago
This is my 2nd Grippando book: The Informant was given to me by a patient in our office and I was captivated by Grippando's style of writing. It captures you, puts you clearly amidst all the action and is quite extensive in creating realistic scenes that make you not want to put the books down! I have ordered more of his books and anticipate just as wonderful a time reading them as I did these two! Great mysteries with a bit of fun in them! Totally enjoyable!
B00kl0verFL More than 1 year ago
Glad that Barnes and Noble numbers the series so that they can be read in order. This is very hard to put down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago