Short Takes

Short Takes: Book reviews, in brief

January 26, 2013 

Fiction

The Fifth Assassin

Brad Meltzer, Grand Central, 448 pages

Brad Meltzer writes a follow-up to “The Inner Circle” and delivers one of his best books yet. In “The Fifth Assassin,” he skillfully makes the narrative accessible to newcomers without alienating fans who are familiar with “The Inner Circle.” And readers will be richly rewarded.

Beecher White works as a top researcher for the National Archives. . He has proof of a crime the president doesn’t want to become public. Four presidents have fallen to assassin’s bullets over the course of U.S. history. What if the men responsible were part of a sinister group? Now it appears that a killer is re-enacting their deaths, down to the placement of the bullets and the weapon used in the assassinations.

History and suspense collide in shocking ways – and the intensity never lets up. Beecher carries the weight of the story. He’s a great character who will resonate with readers since he’s like the fun next-door neighbor or your best friend in college. The ending of “The Fifth Assassin” appears to announce that Beecher White will return, and that cannot come fast enough.

Associated Press

Blood Money

James Grippando, Harper, 357 pages

“Ripped from the headlines” is an apt term for James Grippando’s 10th exciting legal thriller featuring Miami attorney Jack Swyteck, “Blood Money.” Readers will recognize the Casey Anthony case as the inspiration for this meticulously plotted tale.

Jack has just won an acquittal for his client, Sydney Bennett, a nightclub waitress accused of murdering her 2-year-old daughter. But it is not a victory Jack celebrates. The case had become “a pop-culture juggernaut,” bringing an onslaught of hate mail and demonstrations and relentless coverage from Faith Corsco at the BNN cable news company. Jack had never even wanted the case, agreeing to fill in for a friend whose death after the first hearing left Jack the “attorney of record.” And there was Sydney herself – a self-centered, immature, money-grubbing woman given to tantrums – whom Jack disliked.

Sydney’s release sets off a frenzy with even more demonstrators and one-sided coverage by Faith, a Nancy Grace clone. The crowd is revved up by Faith’s rumors that Sydney may be taking “blood money” for a movie or book deal.

Grippando continues to look more deeply into the psyche of Jack Swyteck, his go-to character since he first appeared in “The Pardon” in 1994. While part of Jack hates the attention this case has brought, he also is forced to realize that handling unpopular cases is what he does best. His deepening relationship with an FBI agent, Andie Henning, and his friendship with bar owner and former client, Theo Knight, keep Jack grounded.

Sun Sentinel

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