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Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Pardon by James Grippando

An innocent man is executed, and a guilty man is set free. Grippando  gets things off to a fast start. 

Jack Swytek is estranged from his father, now the governor, who had been elected on a law-and-order platform, promising to expedite executions. Barely two hours before the electrocution of Fernandez, Jack is visited by a man in a ski mask who, insisting on lawyer-client confidentiality, shows him proof that Fernandez is innocent because he, himself, is the killer.

Jack heads for the governor’s mansion where he and his father face off about the impending execution. Insisting he cannot provide proof of the man’s innocence because of client confidentiality (personally, I would have broken it immediately, self-serving lawyer ethics be damned) Jack is unable to convince his father to call it off.

Shift to a few years later as Jack manages to get a killer’s confession thrown out and the jury releases Goss, a vicious killer.  Then Goss is killed and the governor and Jack are being setup for his murder.  Usually, in a case like this, the premise is undermined by illogical actions of the characters.  Grippando has avoided that by making the rationale for why Jack and his father can’t communicate, quite plausible.

The best legal dramas have great courtroom scenes.  Unfortunately, the courtroom scenes were but a small portion of the book. The plot is ingenious and tricky, although how the killer manages to be in some of those places had me buffaloed. And I knocked off a star for a ludicrous ending.   I had hoped for something much more subtle and intelligent.

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