New York Times Bestselling Author

Afraid of the Dark (Swyteck No. 9)

Afraid of the Dark (Swyteck No. 9)

“Grippando has proven his skills with edge-of-your-seat thrillers.  Afraid of the Dark may be his most gripping yet.”
Miami Herald

The New York Times bestselling author's ever-popular hero, Jack Swyteck, is on his most dangerous case yet, uncovering a sinister underground world that has him racing across the globe.

THEN: Sergeant Vince Paulo held his best friend's daughter, McKenna, bleeding in his arms as she uttered the name of her murderer and ex-boyfriend, Jamal. That was minutes before a blast made everything go black for Vince-forever.

NOW: Miami criminal defense lawyer, Jack Swyteck has been called in to save Jamal from the death penalty for terrorist activity. Despite urgent warnings from his fiancée, undercover FBI agent Andie Henning, to stay away from the case, Jack finds himself inextricably drawn to Jamal's past-even believing his alibi that he was abducted and held in a black site in Prague at the time of McKenna's death. But, if Jamal is innocent, then the man who murdered McKenna and took Vince's sight is still out there . . . free.

Soon ghosts from the past reappear very much alive, confirmed by ominous threats from a faceless man known only as "the Dark." Vince and Jack must confront a deadly danger that goes beyond McKenna's death, across international waters. Their journey to piece together the past leads through the back alleys of London, onto illegal internet sites, and straight into the mind of pure evil.

Critical Praise

"[M]atching the power and drama of Grippando's best stand-alone novels…Grippando has definitely reached a new level with this series entry…. One of his best."
—Booklist (Starred Review)

“Compelling…more twists and turns than a snowy mountain pass.”
—Associated Press

“Superb plotting, high suspense, compelling timely issues, and finely honed characters make this crime novel/international thriller a great read.”
—Library Journal (starred review)


James Grippando:

“Behind the Book: Afraid of the Dark

and a Fiction Writer’s Pilgrimage to a Sacred Place”

 A recurring theme I hear from my readers is that they enjoy the strong sense of place in my novels. South Florida of course is a huge part of that refrain. It’s sexy, unique, vibrant—the kind of place that people watch with complete fascination, the way they might eye a hopelessly handsome, reckless youth on the brink of utter self-destruction.

But every once in a while, “place” takes on a truly special quality in my novels. I’m talking about sacred places. That’s the case in Afraid of the Dark.

While touring for Lying with Strangers in 2006, I visited the Czech Republic, armed with just a little information about my Czech ancestry. Before leaving, I discovered that my great grandmother was Catarina Petrak, born in Bohemia. That discovery led me to sacred ground.

After Czechoslovakia fell to Nazis, the SS Obergruppenfuehrer Reinhard Heydrich became Reich Protector of the Nazi-occupied Bohemia. He was second in command to Himmler in the SS branch responsible for the Final Solution. His assassination, organized by senior representatives of the Czechoslovak resistance in London, triggered a relentless search for the assassins and a wave of Nazi retaliation across Czechoslovakia. Berlin suspected that the assassins were aided by two families in Lidice, and the punishment was prescribed by Adolf Hitler himself.  

On June 9, 1942, sometime between 10 p.m. and midnight, Lidice was besieged by Nazi troops. With all access roads sealed off, the Gestapo went from one house to the next, searching everywhere, driving all the people out in the street and looting the abandoned buildings. Men were taken to the Horak family barn, the biggest building in the village. Women and children were herded into the local school building. At 5 a.m., the shooting started. All men were shot dead by a firing squad. The children were taken from their mothers and, except for those selected for re-education in German families and babies under one year of age, were poisoned by exhaust gas in specially adapted vehicles in the Nazi extermination camp at Chełmno upon Nerr in Poland. The women were sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp, which usually meant quick or lingering death for the inmates. The town was burned to the ground. Even its cemeteries were destroyed.

The site of the Horak barn is now a memorial. Standing on those sacred grounds is a bronze memorial that was twenty years in the making. If you visit Lidice, you will stand in the company eighty-nine bronze children. For me, two names and dates were particularly powerful. Petrak, Miloslav: 1931. Petrak, Zdenek: 1933. They were nine and eleven when they were gassed.

Petrak, as it turns out, was a very dangerous name to have in 1942. “Antonin Petrak” was the name of the Czech general in exile who had planned the assassination from the United Kingdom. Petrak was a fairly common name, but in the Nazi world of “collective responsibility,” it was not necessary to prove personal responsibility, or even any actual relationship to those responsible. You were guilty—even if you were a nine or eleven year old boy.

The original site of Lidice is now entirely a memorial. A visit there is a visit to sacred ground. Jack Swyteck’s journey to Lidice in Afraid of the Dark is my personal pilgrimage.

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