Over the New Year's weekend I had James Grippando's latest Jack
Swyteck thriller, GOT THE LOOK, velcroed to my hands and eyes.
Grippando is a fine storyteller, a skill he has displayed over the
course of what is now ten novels --- and he has reached, as per
usual, a new pinnacle with this latest installment.
In GOT THE LOOK Swyteck falls in love with the woman of his dreams:
a beautiful, classy lady named Mia Salazar who, he abruptly
discovers, is married to someone else. Being the class act that he
is, he terminates the relationship, tales of abuse and lovelessness
notwithstanding. When Mia is kidnapped a few weeks later, however,
Swyteck is abruptly and reluctantly drawn back into the
investigation by Mia's husband and, more significantly, by FBI
agent Andie Henning. The kidnapper's modus operandi is to
take someone and then send to the spouse a note stating "Pay me
what she's worth." If the husband gets the dollar amount right,
then his wife is released unharmed; get it wrong and she becomes a
What complicates matters is that the FBI believes that Mia may have
a remote tie to her kidnapper. Swyteck is torn between following
the FBI's plan and making up one of his own along the way. Theo
Knight, Swyteck's former client and permanent best friend, is there
to assist him. Between Theo, Mia, the Wrong Number Kidnapper, and a
complex, intriguing and original plot with more than the expected
number of twists and turns, one tends to forget about Swyteck even
when he is front and center. Someone else more interesting is
Swyteck's somewhat diminished standing should not prevent or deter
you from reading GOT THE LOOK from cover to cover in one sitting.
As always Grippando's descriptive skills are first-rate. Case in
point: near the end of the book I became so claustrophobic that I
actually had to stop reading for a moment and go outside to escape
the feeling of trapped confinement that had crept in and settled
under my skin. I won't divulge any more details about that; if you
have any functioning nerve endings left in your body, you'll know
what I'm talking about when you read it.
Even during lulls in the action, where the setting is a greasy
spoon diner or Swyteck's office, Grippando's ability to describe
the scene and set the mood is equaled by few. Given that his
abilities seem to multiply from book to book, GOT THE LOOK
undoubtedly will increase Grippando's core readership, regardless
of readers' fondness for Swyteck. Recommended.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 22, 2011