Monday, June 20, 2011


Afraid of the Dark: Reviewed by Fran Lewis author James Grippando

Afraid of the Dark
Author: James Grippando

Teenagers often fall prey to young men that they feel will take care of them and offer them more than just friendship. As Vince Paulo, monitors the text messages, phone calls and communications between his friend Chuck’s daughter McKenna and her boyfriend, an alarm goes off in his head. Realizing the gravity of the text message that was sent from her phone and who the recipient might be, Vince races to find McKenna but is too late? Searching through the house he finds her blood soaked and mangled body on her bed with a deadly wound on her chest. Calling for an ambulance, hoping to safe her life, McKenna whispers the name of her assailant before closing her eyes one last time. Hearing the sirens, and leaving the body, Vince realizes the murderer is still in the house. As he opens the door a mass explosion hits him in the face resulting in blindness for Vince. Now, he is in the dark.

Flashing forward three years as attorney Jack Swyteck takes on a case defending a man who has spent three years in Gitmo for being a terrorist. Meeting with Jamal, hearing his story and understanding his history Jack decides to defend him and gets him released. But, the victory is short lived as he is once again detained and sent to Florida facing charges for murdering McKenna Mays his girlfriend. However, there is much more to this than has been revealed and as Andie Henning, Jack’s undercover FBI agent fiancĂ© comes into the picture, she warns him to stay away from the case. Added to the mix Chuck, McKenna’s father is a computer genius who created Project Round Up is capable of searching eight billion files in an instant. How does this all come together and what role does Chuck have in this remains to be seen. As the case comes before the court and Jamal is release, emotions heat up, as the officer who lost his sight is upset about the end result.

A confrontation with the murder victim’s father and anonymous phone call from someone verifying Jamal’s whereabouts when McKenna was murdered draws Jack into a case that he would prefer to walk away from. The government knew Jamal was neatly tucked away in a cell being tortured in Gitmo while others thought he had murdered McKenna. Just who wants this murder covered up? Who is behind his arrest and why does Chuck want Jack on the case?

Enter Theo Knight, Jack’s investigator and you might say bodyguard. As Jack and Theo go to meet this unknown witness they encounter much more than either of them expect. What happens adds more intrigue and suspense as one man dies at the cafĂ©; another leaves a note for Jack as his table. “Are you afraid of the dark?” Was he referring to what happened to Vince or was this person planning a lights out for Jack? An unexpected visit from Jamal’s mother would further clarify things in Jack’s mind realizing that he might have just been framed and that Shada, McKenna’s mother disappeared or died for a reason and it was made to look like suicide. Tracking and monitoring her daughter’s text and cell phone calls, she got too close for her own good. Was it her husband that had her silenced or someone else? That remains to be seen.

As the court will decide on Jamal’s bail and Jack delves deeper in his past, what he finds out about not only Jamal will surprise the reader. Imagine if a blind person could function as if he could see? Imagine if a blind person could be reeducated to learn to read and even write. Brainport might be in its experimental stages but Vince is forging ahead and becoming more independent. How will that all play out and will his wife Alicia support him no matter what? Just what part does he really play and why did McKenna point a finger at Jamal before she died if he was not her killer? What really happened to her mother?

Jack needs to prove that there really was a black site where Jamal was kept prisoner. Learning through Andie that the site was funded and owned by a private insurance company and not the FBI or CIA would make uncovering the truth even more difficult. The government will not admit what they did to Jamal nor can they deny that he was not in the states when McKenna was killed. Who killed her and why? Who is this Dark that continues to make his presence known yet is illusive?

As Jack delves deeper into the case and he learns more about Chuck Mays and his Project Round Up, other pieces come into play that will send him in many different directions. The doctor that administered CPR to Chang before he died revealed that someone with a white walking stick with VX or nerve gas stuck him. Thinking he was next he approached Neil Goodrich and the ending needless to say is two more in favorite of Dark. But, when you learn the connection between him, Jamal and the reasons why he is committed these murders you will feel more than just chills down your spine and definitely want to make sure that you are not anywhere near him when he decides to strike next. But, who is that dangerous man and what else does he have planned for Jack remains to be seen. Added to that he is holding someone captive. Who you won’t believe nor will you figure out until all of the pieces of this complex plot and puzzle come together. As author James Grippando sends the reader along with Jack on a race to find out who this killer is before the body count goes up even more. What part does Chuck play and why won’t he reveal anything about Project Roundup? Where is Andie and what part does she play in solving this case?

Jamal, Jack, McKenna, Shada, and now Neil and the Doctor: You should be afraid of The Dark. Vince monitored McKenna’s text messages and her computer and cell phone but never but never thought that the original text from her phone was sent by our killer and not her in order to set up Jamal. The link between Jamal and the Dark although fragile and not really tightly woven will explain everything. Sometimes you are victim of who you are.

As Jack and Vince race the clock to go to London in order to get to the bottom of what really happened to Shada and why, what he learns about her will change the course of the investigation, put more lives in jeopardy and open up a whole new world to him.

One man obsessed with darkness never wanting to be in the light. Sleeping during the day and doing his handiwork at night almost like a Vampire. But, this one is more pedophile, sadistic and definitely deranged. Now, with Jack and Paulo close what would be his next move and who would assist him in his plan? Just who is really behind this plot will make you shudder as the deceit and lies come out and the ultimate betrayal will rock many worlds.

While Jack is working with Chuck and learning the inner workings behind Project Round Up, Andie explores his family tree and end result will enlighten him to his past, help him understand his grandfather’s ravings as not rants but truths. Alzheimer’s is deadly and it destroys your mind and dignity. But, his grandfather’s long-term memory was loud, clear and sharp and what he revealed would help Jack illuminate much more as the final events and the pieces to this elaborate maze or puzzle come into place.

Just who is the Dark and what hold does he have on Shada? What was Chuck’s part in all of this and why hide the truth about his wife? Project Round Up could provide the technology to trace videos to their original camera that took them. Child porn, brainwashing, videos that would hurt the Black Ice operation and maybe turn the lights on for the man called The Dark. Tracking devices, GPS’s and one-man bent on taking Jack, Chuck, and Vince down in ways that would make you cringe. As the truth comes out just what was Chuck’s original plan to take down the Dark and bring his face into the light? Read the final outcome. Feel the tension, visualize the end result with an author who delivers that extra punch with vivid and graphic descriptions that will place the reader front and center with the characters as if you were right there with them, this is one book you want to read and one ending you will never expect. Monitoring the whereabouts of others can save lives even when you think it violates your privacy.

Revelations come full circle, the truth comes out and Grippando gives the reader an ending , filled with on the edge suspense and ties all the lose ends neatly as Jack, Vince, Chuck and The Dark learn who wins, who loses and who should really be AFRAID OF THE DARK.

Fran Lewis: Reviewer
Thank you to the publisher for sending me this outstanding novel to review.