Book Review: 'Gone Again'

Thursday, May 5, 2016

James Grippando. Harper, 400 pp. $26.99

Jack Swyteck is back at it, and it's life or death. A man named Dylan Reeves is on death row for raping and murdering a young girl named Sashi seven years earlier. So it's a little surprising when Sashi's mother, Debra, approaches Jack and asks him to help exonerate Dylan of Sashi's murder. According to Debra, Sashi is still alive.

From there, "Gone Again" starts to break down the details surrounding Sashi's disappearance. Did Dylan abduct her or was there someone else not brought up in the original trial? Is there something bigger going on that nobody uncovered earlier? Jack works with the help of The Freedom Institute, whose late founder he had a relationship with, and he must work through this previously closed case along with his own emotions regarding his new work space.

Meanwhile, Jack's wife, Andie, is very pregnant and dealing with some health issues surrounding the pregnancy. And, just in case something else needed to be added to the story, Andie's work with the FBI prohibits Jack and Andie to talk about work when it concerns the same people, which this case does.

I enjoyed Grippando's writing style and the pace of the novel. Legal thrillers like this are usually interesting and are almost always enjoyable to read. They're good for some good ol' fashioned escapism -- when you need to take a break and just enjoy another story for a little while.

I did have a little issue, however, with some of the smaller story threads that I felt were left untied at the end of the novel. Following those threads would have led the story in a completely different direction, but I didn't think there was enough closure once certain details were stated, and I would have liked to see either a little more editing with regards to the details or a little more expansion, to incorporate them into the rest of the book.

For fans of Grippando, however, "Gone Again" brings Jack Swyteck full circle, so I'm told. The first Swyteck book, "The Pardon," deals with The Freedom Institute and another death row inmate Jack believes to be innocent. I don't know, with that in mind, whether "Gone Again" is Grippando's last Swyteck book or if it's simply the start of a new "chapter" in this character's story.

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