James Grippando drops by the show today to talk about his new Jack Swyteck thriller Twenty.
Jack Swyteck and his family are caught in the crossfire after a deadly school shooting claims twenty casualties—Florida’s fifth mass shooting in as many years—in this provocative and timely thriller from Harper Lee Prize–winner James Grippando that touches on some of the most contentious issues roiling America today.
It is the message every parent of a school-age child fears: “Active Shooter on Campus.”
Jack Swyteck is at his office when he receives the emergency text from Riverside Day School. Both his daughter, Righley, and his wife, FBI agent Andie Henning, are in danger. Andie is in the school’s rec center when she hears the fire alarms, then loud popping noises and screams coming from the hallway. A trained law-enforcement officer, Andie knows she’s supposed to stay locked down inside the room. But Righley is in her kindergarten classroom and Andie must get her to safety.
The tragedy prompts mass hysteria—and dangerous speculation. The police haven’t identified the shooter, but they find a handgun on the school grounds registered to a parent, a Muslim man named Amir Khoury. News of the gun and its owner leaks and quickly goes viral. Within minutes Al Qaeda claims responsibility. Andie is shocked—Amir is married to her friend, Lilly, a WASP whose bloodline goes back to the American Revolution.
When Xavier, Amir and Lilly’s oldest child and an eighteen-year-old senior at Riverside confesses to the crime, the local community’s anti-Muslim fervor explodes to levels unseen since 9/11. Terrified for her son’s life, Lilly asks Jack to step in. A seasoned defense attorney with a passion to see justice done, he’s taken on plenty of complicated cases. Xavier’s, however, is not one he’s inclined to take—until an old friend who lost his daughter in the shooting tells him that he must.
With the public calling for blood and prosecutors confident their case is air tight, Jack must unearth the Khourys’ family secrets in order to expose the shocking truth and save his client from certain death. But he may not be able to save everyone—including himself.
James Grippando is the winner of the Harper Lee Prize for legal fiction and the New York Times bestselling author of 28 novels of suspense, including the popular series featuring Miami criminal defense attorney Jack Swyteck. His latest, “The Big Lie,” is the 16th in the Swyteck series, and No. 17, “Twenty,” will be published in January 2021. His novels are enjoyed worldwide in 28 languages.
When James walked away from a partnership at Miami’s most prestigious law firm to become a writer, most people said he was clueless. “Not so,” says James, pointing out that “A James Grippando Novel” was a clue for #38 Across in the New York Times crossword puzzle.
James’s first job out of law school plunged him headlong into death penalty cases. That experience was an inspiration for his 1994 debut novel, The Pardon, a legal thriller that critics heralded as a “bona fide blockbuster.” Beyond Suspicion (2002) was the long-awaited sequel to that first novel, and it launched an exciting series that features Miami criminal defense attorney Jack Swyteck and his irreverent sidekick, Theo Knight. James’s writings also include “Leapholes” for young adults and numerous short stories.
As a trial lawyer, James was an avid writer. His numerous scholarly articles appeared in some of nation’s top law reviews, and they are frequently cited with approval by the courts. His trial practice ranged from complex corporate litigation to class actions on behalf of chicken farmers. As a frequent volunteer in Florida’s guardian ad litem program, he helped provide legal representation to neglected children in family court proceedings. He was a faculty member with the National Institute of Trial Advocacy and an adjunct professor of trial advocacy at Nova Southeast University. He was named by Florida Trend Magazine as one of Florida’s emerging leaders, and in 2006 he received the Distinguished Author Award from Scranton University. His alma mater is the University of Florida, where he graduated second in his undergraduate class and earned his law degree with honors.
James is a practicing attorney specializing in entertainment and intellectual property law, representing clients who have won more than 30 Tony Awards. He is also an adjunct professor of Law & Literature at the University of Miami School of Law.
He lives in south Florida with his wife, three children, two cats and a golden retriever named Atlas who has no idea he’s a dog. Visit his website at www.jamesgrippando.com.