Janes Grippando, the bestselling author of five novels including Under Cover of Darkness and The Pardon, demonstrates his trademark gifts once again in a taut new tale of intrigue that will keep you guessing to the final, breathtaking scene. Nick Rey is on the career fast track at a hot Miami law firm when he is suddenly plunged headfirst into a dangerous bid to save his father. Matthew Rey has been kidnapped while on business in Columbia's exotic port city of Cartagena. The ransom demand of three million dollars is far more than the Rey family can ever hope to raise.Fortunately, Matthew had purchased an insurance policy to protect against just such a threat. Unfortunately, the kidnappers seem to know all about the policy, and the insurance company, suspecting fraud, is refusing to pay out. With nowhere to turn, Nick links up with Alex, a beautiful, street-smart woman who may be the only person capable of negotiating with Matthew's abductors. But Nick soon discovers that the gravest dangers to him and his family are not the kidnappers and their guns, but the men in suits: lawyers, to be exact, at a powerful firm with something to hide, and they will stop at nothing to keep Nick from unleashing the truth.
Attorney-turned-novelist Grippando's (Under Cover of Darkness; Found Money) sixth effort kicks off when Matthew Rey, a Florida fisherman with a partnership in a Nicaraguan seafood operation, is kidnapped while on business in Colombia by a group of Marxist guerrillas led by a sadistic soldier named Joaqun. Matthew is dragged off to the mountains and his son, Nick, a young Florida lawyer, receives a ransom demand and tries to get his father back through official channels. Bad move: it turns out Matthew and his partner, Guillermo Cruz, are under suspicion of running drugs. Nick also learns that Matthew had kidnap-and-ransom insurance for the precise amount demanded by Joaqun. To make matters worse, the insurance provider is a client of Nick's law firm, and refuses to pay the claim, accusing Nick and Matthew of conspiracy and fraud. Nick is legally outmaneuvered by his boss scheming senior partner Duncan Fitz and booted out of the firm. Broke, desperate and under suspicion of several felonies, he receives help from beautiful kidnapping negotiator Alex Cabrera and his ex-fiance, Jenna, who's also a lawyer. Naturally, he finds himself torn between his lost love and his growing affection for the mysterious Alex. Meanwhile, Matthew is a helpless witness to scenes of gang rape, torture and murder perpetrated by Joaqun and his thugs. Outflanked and running out of time, Nick delves into his father's business dealings and slowly uncovers a massive conspiracy. Grippando's experience as a trial lawyer shows in his depiction of Nick's frantic legal moves to clear his family's name; his extensive research into the kidnapping industry currently thriving in Latin America adds a harrowing dose of realism to a taut, well-constructed page-turner that seems destined for the big screen. Agents, Richard and Artie Pine. National advertising; six-city author tour. (May 14) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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September 30, 2002
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Excerpt from A King's Ransom by James Grippando
Some called it a crown jewel. Others said it was a diamond in the rough, with the emphasis on rough. It was a matter of perspective, whether Cartagena stood apart from the violence that besieged Colombia or was shrinking in its shadow.
It was one of the Caribbean's most striking port cities, a special blend of colonial heritage, natural beauty, and salsa into the wee hours. The top attraction was the old town, a city within the city, surrounded by nearly six miles of impressive fortress walls that were built under four centuries of Spanish reign. There were smaller marvels too, like cazuela de mariscos, a local seafood soup with chunks of cassava instead of potatoes -- deliciosa! The crowded beaches on the Bocagrande peninsula weren't spectacular, but white sand and turquoise seas were close enough at Playa Blanca or, even better, Islas del Rosario. Throughout the city, colonial mansions painted in pastels and electric blue stood as reminders that the overall feeling here was decidedly tropical, in no small part Afro-Caribbean. Glorified by countless artists and writers over the centuries, Cartagena continued to evoke romantic sentiments as a unique place that, despite the influx of luxury condos, managed to retain the feel of Old San Juan and Havana in its heyday. It was, after all, the official "sister city" to beautiful Coral Gables, Florida.
Yet behind the exotic intrigue, beyond the hopeful hype of tourist agents, lurked an element of danger that was a fact of life in modern-day Colombia. Especially for an American.
Matthew Rey had visited Colombia before and was aware of the tragic headlines. Eleven sport fishermen kidnapped on their boat off Barranquilla. Busloads of children commandeered on their way to school in Ocana, north of Bogota. More than a hundred churchgoers taken at gunpoint in the middle of a Catholic mass in Cali. As a businessman, Matthew didn't deny the risks of a country besieged by four decades of civil war. As a fisherman, he savored the natural beauty, albeit from a half mile offshore.