The Pardon (Jack Swyteck #1) by James Grippando

This is a high 2/12 or low 3 star book. It is a page turner. What kept me turning those pages was the hope that there would be answers to open threads in the story or that an amazing twist would emerge. Sadly neither occurred. I have to admit, that I entered the story with a bad taste in my mouth.

The opening forward of the book is several pages of autobiography about the author. Most of it is self aggrandizing about his time as an attorney, how he read a Grisham novel and felt he could do as well as Grisham and voila! he became an author. Sadly, 50% of attorneys graduate at the bottom of their class and 50% of authors likewise. This is not a Grisham, but it is a copy cat wannabe.

The story opens with a man being defended by an attorney,  under the age of 30, working on something like an Innocence Project. He is begging the governor for a stay. The governor denies it because of his bid for re-election on law and order issues. Oh, and he happens to be our noble young attorneys father and they have issues.

Several problems arose for me at this juncture of the book. The first was that the attorney is described as under 30 meaning he is only a short time out of law school and already he has amassed a wonderful record. Justice moves like molasses, not lightning. In 2 1/2 years he would be lucky to have one case finished much less amass any kind of a record. Second, the governor is his father. Conflict much? There is no way in the world you can make that work. Finally, it is inferred that he has turned down numerous lucrative offers to take this job yet as a young attorney, even if he is the governors son, every man and his dog appears to know the guy.

I also despise when everyone else working with the hero is a stereotype: the frumpy, fat guy with donut dust on his cheap suit; the unattractive women lawyers who are either librarian-ish or severe and hard and the token black, Hispanic, Jewish or lesbian/gay lawyer. Of course, our noble young hero is good looking, and wears stylishly expensive jeans and shirts with an expensive sports coat thrown over the top and a tie if he is going to court.  Having worked in a court house, I can tell you that no matter who you are, no self respecting attorney dresses like that and no judge would allow it. Nor would the attorney’s employer.

While the basic story was thrilling, there were also lots of holes that were never filled. If this book is an introduction to a series, some of these issues need to be addressed in book one to set the tone for future conflicts. The issues between son, father and step mother are never satisfactorily settled or explained. The death of the mother is implied to be both suicide and murder but never cleared up. I was also never really invested in his love relationship. I felt more upset about the death of the dog than any peril the human characters faced.

There were several conflicting ideas and descriptions about the killer so that when it got to the end, I was astounded and wondering how they made a mental jump to this being a Cuban hit man who happened to be the brother of the innocent who was executed. Spoiler alert: he wasn’t innocent either so the whole thing was for naught. Now at times, that premise works leaving the reader feeling empty or disappointed in mankind. In this case, it just didn’t feel like it made a lot of sense.

All of that being said, the pacing is good and it does keep you turning pages – just trying to make pieces fit. When they don’t and there is no satisfying resolution or feeling at the end, that is where you get the 2 1/2 star rating.


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