Review

Born to Run

by James Grippando

I’m amazed that James Grippando has amassed so extensive a
bibliography. BORN TO RUN is his 14th book for adults, his eighth
to feature Florida criminal defense attorney Jack Swyteck, yet his
voice is still fresh and new. He’s not afraid to take his
characters in different directions, and the result is a series that
always entertains and never disappoints.

BORN TO RUN finds Jack reconciled with his father Harry and on
the uncomfortable cusp of his 40th birthday. Both Swytecks are
astounded when Harry is suddenly tapped for the second-highest
position in the federal government. The reason for the sudden
vacancy is the unexpected death of Phil Grayson, the current Vice
President, during a fishing expedition in the Florida Everglades.
Jack is touched when he is retained by Harry as his counsel to
guide him through the onerous investigative process. But Harry
hasn’t even been vetted before Jack begins receiving
mysterious phone calls informing him that the person on the other
end has information that can make his father President.

Phil’s daughter, a quietly smoldering ingénue who
holds some bitter feelings toward her recently deceased father, has
received these calls as well, as did a fallen White House intern on
the verge of breaking a major story. When the former intern
is mysteriously murdered, Jack thinks it’s all too much
of a coincidence. Assuming the caller is a crank, he would be a
deadly one, so Jack begins an investigation of his own that puts
him at loggerheads with his father, who fires him.

Concerned with his father’s well-being, Jack continues his
unofficial investigation, which slowly draws him into the orbit of
an enigmatic and extremely dangerous character known as The
Greek, who in turn holds a secret that has the power to bring down
a government. The key is a mysterious event in the past, and for
that key, The Greek needs money. When his plot backfires, however,
he makes a desperate move that not only puts Jack in terrible
danger, but also places FBI agent Andie Henning --- his lover ---
in the uncomfortable position of having to rescue him. Theo Knight,
Jack’s former client, erstwhile sidekick and bad angel, is
there to help as well, but Jack ultimately finds that as his life
and the lives of innocents hang in the balance, he will have little
to rely on but his wits and instincts.

Grippando has a fascinating track record in his ability to
almost presciently write his books around political events
that have yet to occur. I will happily admit to being dumbfounded
when I discovered that BORN TO RUN raises an issue that was one of
the most potentially controversial --- and least investigated ---
of the past year, one that may well yet see itself played out in
2009. Given that there is generally a 10-14-month lag between the
completion of a novel and its publication, it would certainly seem
that Grippando has his mojo working again. Regardless of his
apparent gift of prophecy, however, he has crafted yet another
engrossing and captivating thriller that will satisfy both readers
who are just discovering Jack Swyteck and those who have been along
for the ride since the beginning.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on December 22, 2010

Born to Run
by James Grippando

  • Publication Date: December 1, 2008
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Harper
  • ISBN-10: 0061556114
  • ISBN-13: 9780061556111