Series: Jack Swyteck #14
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers - Harper
Publication Date: February 6, 2017
Date Read: February 13, 2017
Length: 384 pages
James Grippando delivers his most explosive and riveting suspense novel yet: a powerful and timely story of race, politics, injustice, and murder as shocking and incendiary as today’s headlines, in which Jack Swyteck defends a white college student charged with a heinous racial crime—the first lynching in Florida in more than a half century
When the body of Jamal Cousin, president of the pre-eminent black fraternity at the Florida’s flagship university, is discovered hogtied in the Stygian water swamps of the Suwanee River Valley, the death sets off a firestorm that threatens to rage out of control when a fellow student, Mark Towson, the president of a prominent white fraternity, is accused of the crime.
Contending with rising political tensions, racial unrest, and a sensational media, Townson’s defense attorney, Jack Swyteck, fears the worst. The evidence against his client—which includes a threatening text message referencing “strange fruit” on the river—seems overwhelming. Then Jack gets a break that could turn the case. Jamal’s gruesome murder bears disturbing similarities to another lynching that occurred back in the Jim Crow days of 1944. Are the chilling parallels purely coincidental? With a community in chaos and a young man’s life in jeopardy, Jack will use every resource to find out.
As he navigates each twist and turn of the search, Jack becomes increasingly convinced that his client may himself be the victim of a criminal plan more sinister than the case presented by the state attorney. Risking his own reputation, this principled man who has devoted his life to the law plunges headfirst into the darkest recesses of the South’s past . . . and its murky present to uncover answers.
For Jack, it’s about the truth. Traversing time, from the days of strict segregation to the present, he’ll find it—no matter what the cost—and bring much-needed justice to Suwanee County.
This really was a fantastic book. I have been a fan of James Grippando for a long time so I was really eager to get my hands on this newest installment in his long running Jack Swyteck series. This is the fourteenth book in the series but each book in the series works well as a stand alone novel. I expect good things from both this author and this series and that is exactly what I got with this book. I really had a great time reading this wonderful story.
This book opens with a bang and I quickly found myself both heartbroken and angry. There are a lot of things in this book that made me angry and broke my heart because the subject matter is just really emotional. The mystery involves the apparent lynching of a young black man at a local university which sparks a lot of racial tension in the community.
Jack becomes the lawyer for the young white man that has been accused of the murder. I thought that this was a really interesting perspective into the crime. There really doesn't appear to be a whole lot to tie the young man to the crime besides a racist text the his client denies sending. The case ends up being a whole lot more complicated than anyone realizes.
I really liked how we get to see each stage of the legal process in this book. Each stage is represented from initial questioning of the suspect, indictment, and bail hearing. We see how difficult it can be for a lawyer to represent a client that doesn't always share what they should or take the advice given. I felt the fear of the his client, Mark, as he goes to prison and fears for his future.
I liked the characters in this book. I think that this series has been focusing less on Jack's personal life in later books. There is still some scenes with Jack and his wife and daughter which I enjoyed. Theo makes an appearance but doesn't play a big role and I have to say that I missed Theo working alongside Jack. Andie, Jack's wife, does get some of her own action in this one to keep things interesting. There were a few characters that were easy to hate such as the prosecutor who is more focused on his re-election than justice.
I do highly recommend this series to others. This was a book that really kept me thinking and glued to the pages. It really was a great story with twists and turns that kept me guessing until the very end. I can't wait to read more from this talented author.
About the Author
New York Times bestselling author James Grippando was a trial lawyer for twelve years before the publication of his first novel, The Pardon, in 1994. A Death in Live Oak is his twenty-sixth novel. He is a practicing attorney, teaches at the University of Miami Law school, and lives in south Florida.
Monica Hopkins photography