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Beyond Suspicion (Jack Swyteck Novel) Hardcover – August 20, 2002
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When Jack Swytech's former girlfriend asks him to defend her in a case brought by investors who advance payment on insurance policies when their beneficiaries have been diagnosed with a terminal condition, it looks like an easy win; Jessie Merrill wasn't dying after all, but since Viatical Settlements accepted her doctor's somewhat equivocal diagnosis, they don't stand a chance of getting their money back. Still celebrating his victory, Jack learns that Jessie has lied to him; like the shady, possibly Mob-connected company that advanced Jessie the money, he's been scammed. Then Jessie is murdered in a bizarre scenario that not only sets Jack up as the prime suspect but also threatens his marriage to the woman who is still traumatized by a vicious attack perpetrated by another of his erstwhile clients. Enlisting the aid of his best friend, an ex-con who will do anything to protect the man who saved him from death row, Jack attempts to clear his name by finding the real murderer, who turns out to have a secret worth killing for. The serpentine plot manages to hold the reader's attention despite characters who seem drawn from central casting and a meandering pace that doesn't exactly compel one to keep turning pages to unravel the mystery. --Jane Adams
From Publishers Weekly
Grippando might not be the most lapidary of legal thriller writers, but he certainly has the imagination and research skills to plot up a storm. Readers of his seventh book (after A King's Ransom) will find themselves riveted as Miami criminal lawyer Jack Swyteck the hero of Grippando's first thriller, The Pardon returns to discover himself and his family under attack from several corners. Jessie Merrill, a particularly hot old flame of Jack's who's now dying of ALS, has hired him in an unusual civil case involving a "viatical settlement," in which she sells an insurance policy in return for an immediate cash payment. But the doctors were wrong: Jessie isn't dying, and the shadowy consortium of Russian mobsters who bought her policy are now suing to get their money back. Jack and Jessie win the case; Jack realizes that he and the Russians have been scammed; and when a principal character turns up dead in the Swyteck bathtub, Jack's unstable wife soon joined by a vengeful prosecutor thinks Jack did the dirty deed. There's also a tough and dangerous young Cuban woman with reasons of her own for wanting the Russians brought down, a likable roughneck whom Jack once rescued from death row, and enough mean-spirited federal agents and prosecutors to settle a career's worth of scores for a lawyer-turned-writer like Grippando, who was a partner in Janet Reno's firm before he took up the quill.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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I never heard of viatical settlements either, until I read "Beyond Suspicion" by James Grippando. Jack Swyteck unwisely, as it turns out, decides to represent a former lover in her case against an investment company who bought her policy when she was diagnosed with a terminal disease (ALS), and now wants the money back because it turns out she doesn't have ALS and she isn't going to die anytime soon. Jack wins the case for her, and almost immediately begins to discover that the whole thing might have been a big fraud.
That's a great plot twist, and there are plenty more in store for the reader. Things are never what they seem to be, and Jack finds himself dealing with bigger problems than just an angry group of investors. For starters, he is immediatley implicated in the fraud case, and in the process is alienated from his wife, because it looks like he was in it with his former lover. And it just keeps on getting better.
I've always enjoyed James Grippando's works, and I think this is one of his best!