Tuesday, October 7, 2008

When Darkness Falls - James Grippando

When a homeless man is threatening to jump off a bridge unless he can talk to the only daughter of Miami's Mayor, Vince Paulo, a blind hostage negotiator, is brought in to talk him down.

Once Falcon, the homeless man, is down, Jack Swyteck is called in to defend Falcon with his legal proceedings stemming from the bridge incident. But the bridge incident turns out to be the least of Falcon's legal issues. The Mayor is dead set against his daughter going anywhere near Falcon, even though she is a trained police officer. What are all the secrets about and why does Falcon want so desperately to speak with a woman he's never even met before?

When Darkness Falls is the first book I've read by Grippando. I did not realize it was the sixth in the Jack Swyteck series. I tend to like to start at the first book in a series, and When Darkness Falls is a prime example why. I think I missed a lot of what others might find appealing, having no background on any of these characters. From a newbies point of view there seemed to be three kind of mini-plots (Falcon, Vince and Alicia, Jack and Theo) that all converged on a hostage situation in a motel - none of them seemed to stand out as the "main" plot until later in the novel, and it didn't really have anything to do with Jack Swyteck. And that's perfectly fine! In a series about a lawyer, every case can't be personally connected to the lawyer. But as I was explaining, not having known this was a series about Jack beforehand, I didn't realize he was the series regular just from this book's plot. It was almost like there needed to be more focus in the book.

I listened to this book on audio, read by Jonathan Davis. I've listened to other works recorded by Davis, and I always feel like he's overly dramatic, and I know that takes a bit away from the book for me.

At the beginning of the novel I felt completely lost. There were two entirely different plots (one containing the three mini-plots mentioned above and then a second major plot) taking place and no connection between them whatsoever. The second plot seemed to come out of the blue with no warning and then vanished just as quickly. A couple discs later I was wondering what happened to it. Eventually it did come back, though. Then at about the midpoint of the book, everything was completely clear and the ending was very obvious. There was no mystery to it for me. Therefore, I wasn't that impressed with the plot. There were several elements I found cliche - which was why I was able to predict the plot. I don't want to provide any spoilers, so I'll not go into detail about what I found to be cliche.

For the most part the characters were O.k. The character I really loved was Jack's friend, Theo Knight. Grippando has a gem in that character! He's funny, sarcastic, intelligent. He was also wrongly convicted and on Death Row before Jack exonerated him; that gave him a distinction; it added to his complexity as a character. The character of Theo Knight made the whole book worth listening to.

I kind of expected Grippando to do more with Vince. He was an intriguing character given the fact that he was blind and a hostage negotiator. I really wanted to know his character more.

Overall it was an enjoyable book to listen to on my rides to and from work. It isn't a hard one to follow on audio. I have a huge to-read list, so I probably won't be rushing out to find another Jack Swyteck book soon, but I'll keep it in mind if I run low on audio options for my drive time.


beauvallet October 8, 2008 at 3:44 PM  

I have a Grippando in the TBR heap, and I read a short story somewhere by him also. I enjoyed the short story, it made me curious about Swytek. Plus I love that name, Swytek was the name of one of the (not too bright) supporting characters on Miami Vice.

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