Cover image for A king's ransom
Title:
A king's ransom
Author:
Grippando, James, 1958-
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperCollins Publishers, 2001.
Physical Description:
426 pages ; 25 cm
Language:
English
Geographic Term:
ISBN:
9780060192419
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

The author of five bestselling novels, including Under Cover of Darkness and The Pardon, James Grippando writes compulsively readable thrillers that could be drawn from today's headlines, only better. Now his trademark gifts are wonderfully demonstrated in a taut new tale of intrigue that will keep you guessing to the final, breathtaking scene.

Just two years out of law school, 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.


Author Notes

Author James Grippando was born in Antioch, Illinois in 1958. He spent one year at the University of Illinois before transferring to the University of Florida in Gainesville, where he received his B.A. with high honors and his law degree with honors. While in law school, he was executive editor of the University of Florida Law Review. He was practicing commercial litigation with the law firm of Steel Hector & Davis for 12 years before becoming a full-time writer. He wrote his first two novels while he was still working as a trial lawyer. His novels include the Jack Swyteck series.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Like his previous offerings, Grippando's sixth novel, which involves a man's attempts to free his kidnapped father, is a well-thought-out thriller. Nick Rey, the Miami lawyer who narrates the novel, is a generally engaging character, resourceful and lifelike. His father, a professional fisherman kidnapped for his insurance policy (or so it seems), is a strong man who captures our interest from the moment we lay eyes on him. And the plot, which sends Nick Rey deep into something that strongly resembles a conspiracy, is convoluted without being overly labyrinthine. The author's fans and readers who appreciate an intelligent thriller will be well pleased. All that said, however, it must also be noted that the book is less captivating, less turn-the-pages-as-fast-as-you-can as Grippando's five previous novels, all commercial successes. It lacks their hard-edged feel, their speeding-train pacing. The first-person narration is sluggish, sometimes awkward, as though the author had committed Nick Rey to paper before the character had found his own voice. We like him, but we also feel that he wasn't quite ready to make his appearance. Compared to the author's earlier work, this new novel is not quite a complete success. --David Pitt


Publisher's Weekly Review

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 Joaqu¡n. 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 Joaqu¡n. 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-fianc‚e, 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 Joaqu¡n 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) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

Lawyer Nick Rey's father is kidnapped while on a business trip to Colombia. No one wants to cooperate in freeing him: not the State Department, not the FBI, not the insurance company from which he purchased kidnap and ransom insurance. Nick is on his own except for the help of beautiful Alex, a professional negotiator. It's an interesting, timely, and well-constructed plot. Unfortunately, the characters are flat: Nick and his family are good and innocent to the point of being irritating, while the villains are a completely brutal and evil bunch. Narrator John B. Lloyd is also irritating, particularly his heavy accent when portraying Hispanic characters. A marginal purchase for most libraries. Christine Valentine, Davenport Univ., Kalamazoo, MI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

A King's Ransom Chapter One 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 Ocaña, north of Bogotá. 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. Matthew was in the commercial fishing business, which was big business indeed. He'd started his company in Miami with a rusted but trusted old lobster boat and a mountain of debt. Twenty years later he was part owner of Rey's Seafood Company with forty boats and two processing plants in Nicaragua. With the United States importing more than eighteen million pounds of edible fish weekly from Central and South America, he was always looking for new equipment, opportunities for expansion. It was that kind of thinking that had brought him to Colombia. "Hector!" he shouted. He got no reply. He tried again, louder. "Hector!" Hector Díaz was one of six Nicaraguan crewmen that Matthew had brought to Cartagena to overhaul three old shrimp boats and bring them back to the Mosquito Coast. They were the Niña, the Pinta, and the Coco Loco. It was just a hunch, but something told Matthew they weren't originally a set. All three were anchored side by side in the bay like a pontoon bridge, close enough together for the workers to step from one to the next. A noisy generator on the Pinta, the middle boat, powered the working lights and welding tools for all three, making it impossible for Matthew to be heard from one boat to the next. He switched off the generator. The lights went out, the noise stopped. It was just past sunset, but the afterglow afforded just enough natural light for the men to see each other. "You done fixing the head yet?" asked Matthew. Hector had been working on the plumbing all afternoon. "All but the marble tile and Kohler bidet, boss." He was a habitual wisecracker but worth the trouble, as he and his son Liván could be trusted to sail just about anything from Punto A to Punto B, even three old shrimp boats. Hector was half Miskito Indian, and in Matthew's book the Miskitos were the greatest fishermen on earth. For centuries their tribe had fished the Caribbean along Nicaragua's Mosquito Coast. Tall and lean, the Miskitos were natural divers, and in his prime Hector had been a top lobster diver. His skills were legendary, like the story of the time he and Matthew got lost in a blinding storm at sea. Hector promptly jumped off the boat and dived down thirty-five feet for a good look around the reef. In a matter of minutes he popped back up and told Matthew to turn the boat around and hold the course steady for about three hours. They sailed into port two hours and forty-five minutes later. Only then did Matthew fully appreciate the way the Miskitos knew their ocean -- top and bottom -- like their own backyard. Matthew smiled and shouted back, joking, "You're worthless, you know that?" "That's why I work for you, boss." Matthew snarled, but it was just a game they played. In truth, he envied Hector. Fishing had been a long tradition in the Díaz family, passed on from father to son for generations of Miskitos. Matthew had a son too, but not the same bond that Hector and Liván shared. The sun was gone, the orange and purple afterglow fading. All along the rim of the bay, city lights emerged as twilight turned to darkness. Cartagena was coming to life. The parties would soon begin in earnest. The first time Matthew had visited the city, he'd ended up playing the accordion in some bar that boasted authentic vallenato music of the local costeño people. He couldn't vouch for the music, but the one-fifty rum had delivered as promised. That was twenty years ago. Cartagena had changed much since then. He'd changed, too. Coke instead of beer and rum, and his bladder wasn't what it used to be. Just one stinking soda and already he had to break the proverbial pee seal. A King's Ransom . Copyright © by James Grippando. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from A King's Ransom by James Grippando All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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