The Pardon (Swyteck No. 1)
"Readers will turn the pages of The Pardon faster than a bailiff can swear in a witness."
Jack Swyteck is a talented Miami defense attorney who handles only murder cases - the worst cases, where victims are mercilessly butchered and their killers have no remorse and no defense, except legal "technicalities." His father is Harold Swyteck, Florida's "law and order" governor, a staunch proponent of the death penalty. Jack has spent years rebelling against his domineering father until he is forced on the eve of a controversial execution to make a personal plea for his client, a condemned man who Jack believes is innocent. When his father allows the death sentence to be carried out, all hopes of reconciliation between father and son seem dashed.
Two years later, Jack is again in the news when he uses a legal technicality to gain an acquittal for admitted rapist and murderer Eddy Goss. Disgusted with himself and a system that allows the guilty to go free, Jack quits his legal aid job and vows to straighten out his messy personal life. But someone else has ideas about Jack?s future.
Goss is found brutally slain in his sleazy apartment, and enough clever clues have been planted at the scene to frame Jack for the crime. Meanwhile, the governor is blackmailed by a mysterious stranger who claims he can prove that the man executed two years ago was innocent.
Jack and his father pursue the truth on separate paths, until a series of frightening clues makes it clear they are searching for the same tormentor. Finding that man is crucial. He holds the key to Jack's bogus murder trial. And he alone knows the truth about the personal demons that have haunted the governor for two years — did he execute and innocent man, or didn't he?
As the walls begin to close in on the Swyteck family, a paradox emerges: neither man can help the other without hurting himself. As the stakes rise to even more perilous heights, Jack is forced into a deadly confrontation amidst the confusion of Key West Fantasy Fest, a bizarre Halloween festival that may prove to be the perfect escape route for a dangerous psychopath who's hell-bent on the ultimate revenge against father and son.
"The Pardon arrives with the pistol-shot crack of a gavel cutting through a courtroom."
- Tampa Tribune
"A gripping melange of courtroom drama and psychotic manipulation. . . . A bona fide blockbuster."
- Boston Herald
"Powerful . . . I read The Pardon in one sitting -- one exciting night of thrills and chills."
- James Patterson
"Takes us into the steamy side of Florida law, politics, and murder . . . Grippando writes about what he knows and it's good."
- Sunday Oklahoman
"Grippando ratchets up the suspense every few pages. . . . A promising, cleverly plotted, and taut first novel."
BEHIND THE BOOK ...
As a lawyer who worked fifty hour weeks at a large firm, my writing came in my free time, usually nights and weekends. I spent four years working on a manuscript that was good enough catch the eye of Artie Pine, a top literary agent and eternal optimist. Unfortunately, not even he could sell it to a publisher. The book was never published.
Artie the optimist encouraged me to try again, assuring me that I had gotten "the most encouraging rejection letters" he had ever seen. He had a way of putting the positive spin on even the most glum news, but after four years I wasn't sure I had another book in me. I told him I'd try. Again, I labored from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m., trying to come up with a new idea. Nothing was coming.
Then, late one night in October 1992, tired of staring at a blank computer screen, I went for a walk before turning in. I got about three blocks from my house when, seemingly out of nowhere, a police car pulled up onto the grassy part of the curb in front of me. A cop jumped out and demanded to know where I was going. I told him that I was just out for a walk, that I lived in the neighborhood. He didn't seem to believe me. "There's been a report of a peeping tom," he said. "I need to check this out." I stood helplessly beside the squad car and listened as the officer called in on his radio for a description of the prowler. "Under six feet tall," I heard the dispatcher say, "early to mid-thirties, brown hair, brown eyes, wearing blue shorts and a white t shirt." I panicked inside. I was completely innocent, but it was exactly me! "And a mustache," the dispatcher finally added. I sighed with relief. I had no mustache. The cop let me go. But as I walked home, I could only think of how close I'd come to disaster. Even though I was innocent, my arrest would have been a media event, and forever I would have been labeled as "the peeping tom lawyer."
It was almost 2 a.m. by the time I returned home, but I decided that I needed to write about this. A peeping tom lawyer wasn't exactly bestseller material, so I took this feeling of being wrongly accused to the most dramatic extreme I could think of. I wrote about a man hours away from execution for a crime he may not have committed. What I wrote that night became the opening scene of The Pardon. I finished the manuscript in seven months, and it sold to HarperCollins in two weeks. It's now available all over the world in fourteen languages.
I guess Artie the optimist was right. When a door closes, a window opens.
THE PARDON: HarperCollins Publishers: May 2001 Behind the Writing of the Novel: Copyright 2000 James Grippando