Beyond Suspicion

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Beyond Suspicion audiobook

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Review #1

Beyond Suspicion audiobook free

My Review 4.5 Stars Rounded To 5 Stars*****

This novel marked the return of Jack Swyteck, the authors protagonist from his well-known debut novel THE PARDON [1994]. The author published half a dozen books in between, and although this novel is technically a sequel it feels more like the introduction or kick-off to a new series featuring Jack Swytek, his buddy Theo Knight, and other characters from the colorful backdrop and big city lights of downtown Miami.

Some two decades later (2021) we all know how financially successful and critically acclaimed that the prolific Jack Swytek book series turned out to be. Back in the mid-90’s (and well into the new millennium) I was renting stacks of audio books due to a career that necessitated driving throughout the week. I discovered a dozen or so authors whose works I really enjoyed, and I always scanned the shelves at the libraries for unabridged book titles bearing their names. One of these early favorites of mine was James Grippando. In 2019 I read the debut novel THE PARDON (1994) written by 36-year-old Grippando, a Miami attorney. It happened to be Jack’s 25th birthday that year and I thought it might be interesting to read the novel that first introduced Swyteck.

THE PARDON [1994] was an excellent debut novel from an obviously very talented newcomer to the legal thriller genre. I promised myself I would continue to read (in cases re-read) the books in the series in order of their publication. I did read an outstanding standalone by Grippando in 2019 but did not follow up on my plans to follow the adventures of Jack. Now, a couple of years later, I intend to remedy that situation.

BEYOND SUSPICION delivered a complex crime fiction thriller that held my attention from the first page and it proved itself to be not only a highly enjoyable but also educational reading experience. It was perhaps more of a murder mystery and whodunnit than a courtroom drama, but the narrative was also punctuated by scenes of romance, drama, and adrenaline infused action scenes. Interestingly, at first blush what I expected to be a legal thriller from Grippando carried a genre designation as a Medical Thriller on Amazon.

That said, there definitely is a medical thriller component which was immensely interesting to a reader like me who has a medical background and has been engaged in varied areas of the health field over the years. As someone who remembers the horror of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s I was somehow unaware of the popularity of viatical settlements. Viaticum was the Latin term for the Roman soldiers supplies for battle, which realistically might represent the final journey of his life. Viatical was therefore an especially fitting term to describe a type of settlement that provided a terminally ill AIDs victim cash monies for an existing Life Insurance Policy while he (or she) was still alive and could use the funds for expenses associated with their medical care or anything else they wanted. The viatical group of investors would essentially purchase the individuals Life Insurance Policy for lets say half of its cash value that would pay out at death. The holder of the policy was a dead man walking and after the disease ran its course, the viatical group would double their investment and cash in the entire face amount of the policy. In theory, this was an enterprise born of the free market which actually helped the terminal patient and was obviously an attractive and quite lucrative investment for the viatical groups.

The catalyst for this complex hand grenade of a plot is Jacks agreement to handle a Civil Suit for his old flame Jessie. She had figuratively broken his heart in a zillion pieces several years ago but in the years that followed Jessie leaving him he had met and fallen in love with Cindy, presently his wife. Jessie is a sympathetic character when she approaches Jack and explains that she is being sued in civil court for 1.5 million dollars by the enraged viatical group. She had been diagnosed as terminal but later learned that a misdiagnosis had been made. Jessie is quite convincing and from Jacks perspective the case looks like a slam dunk, and gee whiz, even his wife Cindy feels pity for the old girlfriend and encourages him to take the case. He wins the case handily in an entertaining bit of courtroom action, but then later learns that Jessie has used him as a pawn in an illegal insurance scam to rook the viatical group of investors. That isnt a spoiler since it is disclosed in the book description. So is the fact that Jessies lifeless bloody body is later discovered in Jacks bathtub.

There are several subplots in this novel all of which are interesting threads to follow as you find yourself with a fascinating page-turner. Elements of the narrative involve the activities of the Russian mob, the Red Mafiya which includes a number of colorful villains but also an especially vile, despicable, deadly psychopath, and if that wasnt sufficient also a deranged contract killer named Fate. There is action, violence, and horrific realities such as the bad guys hastening the death of their clients when they are not dying in a timely manner to cash in on their policies. There is the cultivating of disease in human hosts, harvesting dirty deadly blood from homeless, diseased donors on the street with AIDs and Hepatitis, and thats just the tip of the ice berg is this genuinely unputdownable thriller.

Grippando proves that he is adept at character development, misdirection, and the execution of genuinely surprising and ultimately shocking plot twists. There is Jack, his unforgettable sidekick Theo and a host of other colorful personalities in this one as well.

The theme of Jessies death runs through the entire narrative. I am a stickler for understanding the reason(s) for a books title (in this instance BEYOND SUSPICION). The author chose this catchy phrase because at one juncture in the story line it is postulated that Jessie may very well have orchestrated her own death to look like a suicide in the bathtub at Jacks home he shared with Cindy. Similarly, Jessie could have manufactured the boatload of damming circumstantial evidence aimed like an arrow at one Jack Swyteck. In this case, The real killer is beyond suspicion.

Finally, I was frankly dazzled by the authors ability to completely captivate me with this fascinating rollercoaster ride of a novel, but also to surprise the daylights out of me by the ending only to inject a final shocking plot twist for an exclamation point. A big part of Grippandos outstanding talent and effectiveness as an author is his ability to write in such compact prose, and as a reader you are moving from one scene to another seamlessly, turning the pages quickly while simultaneously becoming more immersed in the plot line and the well-rounded characters he creates.

In one of the editorial reviews, I read something like that this book was easily a match for big names such as Grisham or Margolin or Lescroart. Let me say this about that. I stopped reading Grisham a LONG time ago. Insofar as Margolin and Lescroart, I like and read them both, but the former is inconsistent at best and Lescroart is not in the same league with anything I have read by him to date.

This one is a bit dated, only the 2nd installment featuring Jack Swyteck, but it is a truly gripping piece of crime fiction, and I highly recommend it.


Review #2

Beyond Suspicion audiobook in series Jack Swytek

Loved the plot twists and turns. Truly fascinating that several key players were confused as to who killed Jack’s ex-girlfriend. I was partner to the confusion as I followed the read – flipping from one character to the other.
Written at a comfortable place, the reader journeys through character “mini – stories” that provide a deeper understanding of the main character’s role in this riveting murder mystery. Well written and highly recommended.


Review #3

Audiobook Beyond Suspicion by James Grippando

Viatical Settlements: A terminally ill patient signs his life insurance benefits over to a group of investors; in exchange, the investors pay an immediate lump-sum cash settlement to the patient, usually about one-half of the value of the policy. The patient gets the money now, and the investors get the full value of the policy at the patient’s death, thus doubling their investment.

I never heard of viatical settlements either, until I read “Beyond Suspicion” by James Grippando. Jack Swyteck unwisely, as it turns out, decides to represent a former lover in her case against an investment company who bought her policy when she was diagnosed with a terminal disease (ALS), and now wants the money back because it turns out she doesn’t have ALS and she isn’t going to die anytime soon. Jack wins the case for her, and almost immediately begins to discover that the whole thing might have been a big fraud.

That’s a great plot twist, and there are plenty more in store for the reader. Things are never what they seem to be, and Jack finds himself dealing with bigger problems than just an angry group of investors. For starters, he is immediatley implicated in the fraud case, and in the process is alienated from his wife, because it looks like he was in it with his former lover. And it just keeps on getting better.

I’ve always enjoyed James Grippando’s works, and I think this is one of his best!


Review #4

Audio Beyond Suspicion narrated by Ron McLarty

…some sloppy editing. Specifically, p. 299 (of the mass market pb) refers twice to killing the viatical investors. Uh, has that happened in the book at all? No.

Better than Patterson, no Lehane or Connelly, but I’ll read the next couple to see if the series develops a bit more depth and plot variety. So far, in the first two Swyteck books, Jack has been the primary murder suspect in both.


Review #5

Free audio Beyond Suspicion – in the audio player below

Jack’s old girlfriend Jesse Merrill tricked him into taking a case where she scammed a group of investors out of one and a half million dollars. Jesse is found death in a bath tub in Jack’s home. Jack finds himself trying to keep from being indicted for Jesse’s murder. Jack starts to suspect the investors had Jesse killed for the scam. The characters are great, the drama is great and the twists and turns keeps you spinning for an ultimate thrill ride.


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