A Death in Live Oak

Few places in the United States evoke as much mystery and potential for danger as Florida's muggy, alligator-ridden swamplands, which is where James Grippando has set his latest legal thriller, A Death in Live Oak. Brimming with tension, this whip-smart novel brings back Jack Swyteck, a criminal defense attorney from Miami with a record of just barely escaping disbarment. This is Grippando's 14th Swyteck novel, but his work shows no sign of easing off the suspense.

In this installment, Swyteck is asked by a white, well-to-do Gainesville family to represent their frat-boy son, Mark, who's been convicted of a murder so heinous it's causing national riots: the lynching of a black college student on a bank of the Suwannee River. Swyteck has never shied away from representing guilty defendants and, at first, he's not entirely sure that his latest client is innocent. But the more he learns about Mark and his family, the more he starts to believe that they might be part of a much larger and more complicated story that goes back decades.

Moving to and fro in time, A Death in Live Oak presents a fast-paced, tautly written story of race, love and justice that speaks to the contemporary moment--while eschewing expectations at every turn. Indeed, it's a novel that will keep even the savviest fans of legal thrillers guessing throughout. Smart, complex and of-the-moment, A Death in Live Oak is the product of an author with a powerful imagination and a finger on the political pulse of a nation. --Amy Brady, freelance writer and editor

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