Thursday, April 23, 2020

#IReadsYou Book Review: THE BIG LIE

HARPER (HarperCollins Publishers) – @HarperCollins @HarperBooks

[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

AUTHOR: James Grippando – @James_Grippando
ISBN: 978-0-06-291504-7; hardcover (February 25, 2020)
368pp, B&W, $27.99 U.S.

The Big Lie is a 2020 legal thriller novel from author and attorney James Grippando.  It is Grippando's 28th novel and also the 16th novel starring Grippando’s Miami-based, criminal defense attorney, Jack Swyteck.  Grippando is the 2017 winner of the Harper Lee Prize for legal fiction (for 2016's Gone Again – Jack Swyteck #12).  In The Big Lie, Swyteck lands right in the middle of an Electoral College battle to determine the Presidency of the United States.

The Big Lie opens at the 2020 Democratic National Convention in Miami, Florida where the Democratic Party is crowning its latest candidate for president, Florida's junior U.S. Senator Evan Stahl, Jr.  There is, however, a persistent rumor that Sen. Stahl is having an extramarital affair and that his lover might be another man.

Cut to November, and the Machiavellian incumbent, President Malcolm MacLeod (an obvious stand-in for President Donald Trump), is claiming victory.  However, he will need the Electoral College to win re-election, because he lost the popular vote by over five million votes.  Now, the Electoral College battle for the White House lands in a Florida courtroom, and Jack Swyteck finds himself with a new client, Charlotte Lee Holmes, a “faithless elector.”  Holmes is a member of the Florida's Electoral College contingent, bound by law and by oath to vote for the winner of Florida, President MacLeod... by the slimmest of margins  Holmes has announced that she will cast her Electoral College vote for Sen. Stahl.

Jack is the caught between a corrupt president (MacLeod) and his manipulative opponent (Stahl).  President MacLeod was recently spared from impeachment only because his political foes were certain they would oust him at the ballot box. Now, he appears to have secured a second term, thanks to a narrow victory in the Electoral College, and he and his allies, including a duplicitous Florida state attorney general, will do anything to keep Holmes' decision from turning others into “faithless electors”.

The president and his Florida machine drag Charlotte Holmes into court on felony charges, which are not enough charges for some.  Jack Swyteck may be the only attorney that can keep Charlotte from being ruled unfit to remain an elector.  Meanwhile, Stahl refuses to concede the election and hopes to convince other members of the Electoral College to become “faithless electors.”

But the media frenzy around Stahl's affair is getting worse, and soon there are threats of violence and actual violence.  Salacious details about Charlotte's life are dredged up, and Jack and his client may have to make their last stand in a stand-your-ground state.

THE LOWDOWN:  I read my first Jack Swyteck novel, Blood Money, back in 2013 when it was first published, and since then, I eagerly await each new Swyteck novel.  The Big Lie is the seventh Swyteck novel I have read and the ninth novel by James Grippando novel that I have read and reviewed.

The Big Lie is many things and is the most genre-bending or genre-crossing Grippando novel that I have read.  It is a legal thriller (of course), a political thriller, a crime thriller, and an action thriller (of sorts).  It is also a family drama and melodrama; for instance, The Big Lie delves into Jack Swyteck's relationship with his dying stepmother.  The families of Charlotte Holmes and Evan Stahl, Jr. are also each a cauldron of hot mess.

I have to be honest.  The Big Lie is a riveting, page-turning read, but it does not quite meet the high standards that Grippando set with the previous four Swyteck novels.  However, Grippando continues to create engaging new characters with each novel, while making returning characters all the more lovable.  So quality characters drive the narrative of The Big Lie, which is why it is another hugely enjoyable James Grippando novel, and that is the big truth.

I READS YOU RECOMMENDS:  Fans of political thrillers and of James Grippando will find that The Big Lie is a must-read.

8 out of 10

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

The text is copyright © 2020 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for reprint and  syndication rights and fees.


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