Twenty: A Jack Swyteck Novel by James Grippando

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Jack Swytek, one of Grippando’s favorite characters, is pulled into quite a tale in this one. Swytek, a defense attorney, gets the call to defend Xavier Khoury, an eighteen-year-old high school student who has been charged with a deadly shooting in a Florida school. Ironically, Jack’s wife, Andie who is an FBI agent was on the scene because she was taking their daughter to school. Neither Andie nor her daughter were hurt but twenty casualties did occur.

Xavier was immediately identified as the shooter because the gun found by his side had his dad’s name on it. Since Andie was friends with his mother, she was brought in to help on the arrest and detainment. Upon arrangement Xavier blurted out, “Mom, it’s ok..I did it”.

Andie stays with the mother to help her and Jack is called in immediately to serve as the defense lawyer for the boy. No one can figure out why he would do it even though his father is a devout Muslim. But the heart of the story now becomes the fact that Xavier refuses to talk to anyone. He won’t even talk with Jack who is trying to defend him. The only reason that Jack gets so tightly involved in the case is that the daughter of a close friend of his was killed in the shooting.

As the case and story move forward there are many incidents that help keep the interest of the reader. Jack works hard at getting justice for Xavier but while Xavier is jailed awaiting trial, he attempts suicide by hanging himself. Though this appears to add to the possibility of his involvement there are other underlying occurrences. It turns out that the FBI suspends Andie because she got herself involved and did not even have a weapon at the time in her possession.

Also, and perhaps the most involved happening was that a young lady appears and is seen to be Xavier’s girlfriend although she is much more than that as the story moves forward. The number one twist is that the gun that was used in the shooting does not belong to Xavier but is in fact tied into the entire Al-Qaeda organization. And that tie comes about because of a hidden fingerprint on the gun.

And the tie-in goes much further back than just recent activities but as far back as the incidents involved in the Nine Eleven disaster that rocked our country.

There are places where no doubt the reader may have to slow down or perhaps even re-read to get the entire contents in his mind. It is a great story!