Wednesday, 07 June 2017 18:35

Grippando jamesxx
This year saw the release of James Grippando’s 25th novel, and his 13th featuring Miami defense lawyer Jack Swyteck.

Most Dangerous Place takes its title from a FBI statement that the most dangerous place for a woman between the ages of 20 and 30 is in a relationship with a man. Grippando, left, skillfully weaves this issue into a well-plotted novel that keeps the suspense high and the characters believable.

In Most Dangerous Place, Jack goes to the Miami airport to pick up his best friend from high school, Keith Ingraham, his wife, Isa Bornelli, and their five-year-old daughter, Melany. Jack hasn’t seen his friend for several years since Keith and his family have been living in Hong Kong. But shortly after the family lands, Isa is arrested and charged with murdering the man who raped her when she was at the University of Miami more than a dozen years before.

Grippando has made his reputation as a solid thriller writer who can be relied on for gripping, brisk plots.

But Grippando has been adding another title to his resume: Broadway producer. For several years now, Grippando has been investing in Broadway shows through his affiliation with Greenleaf Productions.

If you were among the readers who thought you saw Grippando get up on stage during the Tony Awards a couple of years ago, along with the other producers of Matilda, you were right.

Grippando is among the producers for Matilda. He also took a chance on Audra McDonald in Lady Day and the revival of Fiddler on the Roof.

The productions of which Grippando is one of the producers are now on three continents—Groundhog Day on Broadway, Dreamgirls on London’s West End, and Matilda in Australia.

andykarl gruondhoglaworderThe playbill for the musical Groundhog Day lists Grippando as one of the producers.

Groundhog Day is based on the movie of the same name and stars Andy Karl, rght, as the weatherman caught in a time warp. Here’s a review of Groundhog Day by my favorite theater critic.

Groundhog Day has seven Tony Award nominations, including one for Karl. By the way, Karl recently ended his run as Sgt. Mike Dodds in Season 17 of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

Look for Grippando when the producers come up on stage during the Tony Awards on June 11.

Photos: Top, James Grippando; photo courtesy Harper; Bottom, Andy Karl, photo by Joan Marcus

James Grippando on Broadway
Oline H. Cogdill
Saturday, 03 June 2017 18:50

graftonsue yisfor
Until a few weeks ago, the title of Sue Grafton’s second to last novel about Santa Barbara private detective Kinsey Millhone has been known only as Y Is for….

The mystery has been solved, and Y Is for Yesterday, from Marian Wood Books/Putnam, hits stores and reading devices on August 22.

It’s been a long, wonderful ride with Kinsey and company, and after Y Is for Yesterday, only Z Is for... is left.

The publisher describes Y Is for Yesterday’s plot:

“The darkest and most disturbing case report from the files of Kinsey Millhone, Y begins in 1979, when four teenage boys from an elite private school sexually assault a 14-year-old classmate—and film the attack. Not long after, the tape goes missing and the suspected thief, a fellow classmate, is murdered. In the investigation that follows, one boy turns state's evidence and two of his peers are convicted. But the ringleader escapes without a trace.

“Now, it's 1989 and one of the perpetrators, Fritz McCabe, has been released from prison. Moody, unrepentant, and angry, he is a virtual prisoner of his ever-watchful parents—until a copy of the missing tape arrives with a ransom demand. That's when the McCabes call Kinsey Millhone for help.”

Kinsey first came on the scene in 1982 with A Is for Alibi.

Grafton has kept with that naming convention throughout with B Is for Burglar, E Is for Evidence, P Is for Peril, and so on. The only exception has been the singular X, which came out in 2015 and soon landed in the top spot on several bestseller lists.

That brings me back to Y Is for Yesterday.

For me, Y Is for Yesterday has a different meaning, as it seems like just yesterday that Grafton, along with Marcia Muller and Sara Paretsky, brought me back to mysteries and set me on a career course I never expected.

I began reading mysteries when I was about eight or nine. I had pretty much read everything the children’s section of my hometown library had and wanted more—more stories, characters, more plots, just more.

That’s when my mother handed me some of her collection of mysteries she had read—many of them small hardcovers that cost pennies, or rather dimes, back in her day. Authors such as Agatha Christie, Rex Stout, Frances and Richard Lockridge (Mr. and Mrs. North), Mary Roberts Rinehart.

And I found that more I was looking for. (To this day, I have never read a Nancy Drew or a Hardy Boys novel.)

But decades later when I started working I became disenchanted with mysteries. The stories were not speaking to me, not addressing my concerns. I loved the mysteries that were then old-fashioned but I craved more contemporary stories that I could relate to.

I remember sitting in my driveway with one of my closest friends and talking about reading. He mentioned he had heard about this new author who was naming her books after the alphabet. “A Is for Alibi is the first one,” he said. “It’s that cute.”

It wasn’t just cute—it was what I needed.

Although I had pets, owned my own home, and loved clothes, I still found a kindred spirit in Kinsey, despite her petless, vagabond ways and habit of cutting her hair with nail scissors and owning one black dress.

We were single women, making our own way, navigating a new world and reveling in being independent.

At that point Grafton had about six novels out and I began to binge-read. A few months later, I was visiting my friend Toni, who handed me one of Sara Paretsky’s novels. And I was off.

The rest is, well, mystery-reading history.

Y Is for Yesterday. Y is for you, the reader.

Sue Grafton: “Y” on Its Way
Oline H. Cogdill
Tuesday, 30 May 2017 09:05

levine paul
Paul Levine was among the first wave of Florida authors to show readers the oddness and beauty of the Sunshine State.

Jake Lassiter, the linebacker-turned-lawyer, first appeared in Paul Levine’s To Speak for the Dead in 1990. Nearly three decades later, Lassiter is still navigating the shark-infested waters of the justice system in Bum Luck. The story opens ominously: “Thirty seconds after the jury announced its verdict, I decided to kill my client.”

Here, author and hero trade punches about what it all means: Paul Levine interviews Jake Lassister about Bum Luck.

Paul: I see you’re in trouble again, Jake.
Jake: Don’t blame me. I only follow orders from you, scribbler.

Paul: That’s a cop-out, tough guy. You’ve got a mind—and a mouth—of your own.
Jake: News flash. Fictional characters don’t have free will.

Paul: Really? Did I tell you to try and kill Thunder Thurston, your own client?
Jake: I don’t remember. My brain’s a little fuzzy.

Paul: No wonder. How many concussions have you had?
Jake: Sure, blame the victim. You’re the one who made me run full speed into a goalpost, splitting my helmet in two.

levinepaul bumluckPaul:
But I warned you not to get into the boxing ring with the Sugar Ray Pincher. Another concussion, and next day, you’re standing on a 20th floor balcony, threatening to push Thurston over the railing.
Jake:Thurston killed his wife. He deserved to die.

Paul: The jury said not guilty. After you argued his case.
Jake: I’m ashamed.

Paul: Whatever happened to “Jake Lassiter. Last bastion between freedom and forty years in a steel cage. The guy you call when you’re guilty as hell.”
Jake: Your words, scribbler. Not mine.

Paul: Didn’t you used to say, “They don’t call us sharks for our ability to swim?”
Jake: I’m drowning here. Can’t you see that? Because of me, a murderer went free.

Paul: Snap out of it, Jake! You were just doing your job.
Jake: Your job. You sent me to night law school. You made me take the bar exam four times. You pushed me into criminal law. I could have coached high school football in a pleasant little burg in Vermont, but no, you made me a trial lawyer.

Paul: I’ve never known you to be such a whiner.
Jake: (groans) What have you done to me? Splitting headaches. Memory loss. Confusion. Solomon and Lord think I have brain damage.

Paul: I never told you to use your helmet as a battering ram.
Jake: Once you made me a linebacker, what did you think would happen?

Paul: (apologetically) Truth be told, Jake, I didn’t think about the future. No one knew about chronic traumatic encephalopathy back in the day.
Jake: You gave me another concussion in the game against the Jets where I made the tackle on the kickoff, recovered the fumble, and stumbled to the wrong end zone.

Paul: Sorry about that.
Jake: All these years later, the judges still call me “Wrong Way Lassiter.” Sorry doesn’t cut it, pal.

Paul: (brightens) There’s some good news, Jake. Dr. Melissa Gold, a neuropathologist at UCLA, is making progress with athletes suffering from C.T.E. She’s also very attractive.
Jake: So?

Paul: You’re going to meet her about halfway through Bum Luck.
Jake: I knew that. I must have forgotten. Do she and know?

Paul: No spoilers, sport.
Jake: I’m hoping she’s a keeper. It’s about time you gave me a soul mate instead of a cellmate.

Paul: Not my fault you choose women who break up with you by jumping bail and fleeing town.
Jake: C’mon, old buddy. Can’t you tell me if I kill Thunder Thurston? And if I do, whether I get away with it? And if I live or die?

Paul: The answers, old buddy, can be found in Bum Luck. Just shell out a few bucks and you’ll know.
Jake: I oughta break all your fingers so you can never type another word.

Paul: Don’t even think about it. Hey, what are you doing? Ouch! Let go of me. Stop before I—

Levine Grills Lassiter