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    Review of BEYOND SUSPICION by James Grippando (see his website)

    HarperCollins, 2002

    Lawyer Jack Swytek wins a big case for a former girlfriend, Jessie Merrill. The woman had been diagnosed with Lou Gerig's disease and sold her life insurance, only to discover that she suffered from lead poisoning. Only after the trial does Jack realize that he might have been helping to perpetuate a fraud. When Jessie is found dead in Jack's bathtub, Jack suspects murder--and so does the district attorney. The only difference is, the district attorney's favorite for the deed is Jack.

    Author James Grippando (see more reviews of novels by Grippando) keeps the pages turning with a hard charging style and only a bare look into the characters of the actors in his novel. Jack has a wealth of suspects--the doctor whom Jack believes is implicated in the fraud, the investors who gave Jessie her million and a half dollars, and his best friend who would do anything to help Jack. But unless Jack can come up with evidence, he's the one likely to fry.

    The first half of this novel is completely enjoyable and entertaining. As the mystery progresses, however, too many characters behave in ways that are unconvincing, or stupid. The evil investors (controlled by the Russian mafia) are certainly evil, but would they really be as successful as they are if they could act so irrationally? Jack's friend sets off on bizarre missions that put both himself and Jack in danger without any perceivable goal other than the books requirement that Jack and the friend be placed in danger. Finally, the big shoot-out was anticlimactic. The ending and the gradual revealing to the true killer left me more exasperated than delighted.

    I'm going to keep my eyes open for more Grippando. The man can certainly write--unfortunately, from my perspective, BEYOND SUSPICION doesn't quite deliver on Grippando's promise.

    Two Stars

    Reviewed 9/11/02

    Purchase BEYOND SUSPICION from (hardback).