Court case sounds familiar


Blood Money. James Grippando. Harper. 352 pages. $26.99.

Floridians — as well as the rest of the nation — will recognize the Casey Anthony case as the inspiration for the meticulously plotted Blood Money, the exciting 10th book in James Grippando’s legal thriller series featuring Miami attorney Jack Swyteck.

Blood Money offers an intriguing look at the media, vengeance-seeking crusaders and our perception of defendants and their attorneys. Jack has just won an acquittal for his client, Sydney Bennett, a young nightclub waitress accused of murdering her 2-year-old daughter. But Jack doesn’t celebrate the victory. The case had become “a pop-culture juggernaut,” bringing an onslaught of hate mail, demonstrations and relentless coverage from Faith Corsco at the BNN cable news company. Jack had never even wanted the case, agreeing to fill in for a friend whose death after the first hearing left Jack the attorney of record.

As for Sydney, she’s self-centered, immature, money-grubbing and given to tantrums. Her release sets off a frenzy with even more demonstrators and one-sided coverage by Faith, a Nancy Grace clone. The crowd is revved up by Faith’s rumors that Sydney may be taking “blood money” for a movie or book deal. During a fracas outside the women’s detention center, Celeste Laramore, a college student who has just come from a Sydney Bennett look-alike contest at a South Beach bar, is assaulted so violently she ends up in a coma. Jack also is attacked and receives escalating threats that grow increasingly personal. Agreeing to represent Celeste’s distraught parents, Jack begins to take another look at Sydney’s case and what didn’t come out during the course of his defense.

Grippando continues to more deeply examine the psyche of Jack, his go-to character since he first appeared in The Pardon in 1994. While part of Jack hates the attention this case has brought, he also is forced to realize that handling unpopular cases are what he does best. Good news for us.

Oline H. Cogdill reviewed this book for The Sun Sentinel.

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