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Jack Swyteck returns in 'Blood Money'

"Blood Money" (Harper), by James Grippando

James Grippando continues to deliver great legal suspense with his latest thriller, "Blood Money." His hero, Miami criminal defense attorney Jack Swyteck, has appeared in previous novels, but this case becomes his most personal.

According to the general public and the media, Swyteck's client Sydney Bennett is guilty of murdering her 2-year-old daughter. Everyone but the court has already convicted her, and when the verdict is not guilty, hysteria ensues. Swyteck receives death threats and is accused of taking blood money, but his main concern involves getting his client out of prison safely. On the night of Bennett's release, a woman who looks like her is assaulted and ends up in a coma. The media blames Swyteck, but the young woman's parents want answers and they go to Swyteck for help.

The mystery itself is a bit obvious, but Grippando's examination of corporate media and the power of the court of public opinion elevate "Blood Money." Swyteck has to work within the law to save his client, while dodging blows from a zealous TV reporter and countering the spreading lies in media reports. Every step he takes is scrutinized and examined in the world of instant news. Swyteck's career and his client's life hang in the balance.

The courtroom antics are fun and will remind readers of the best of Perry Mason. Grippando has been at the top of the legal-thriller ladder for some time, and "Blood Money" will enhance his reputation and readership.

'Blood Gospel' is supernatural thriller

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Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our MyCapture site.

"The Blood Gospel" (William Morrow), by James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell

James Rollins, king of the action-adventure thriller, and award-winning novelist Rebecca Cantrell, author of four Hannah Vogel mysteries set in pre-World War II Nazi Germany, combine their talents and create a supernatural page turner in "The Blood Gospel."

Fans will discover a storytelling voice vastly different from the authors' individual novels. Rollins uses science and history to deepen the suspense in his books. Cantrell's stories ooze atmosphere, transporting the reader into a vivid world as if being transported back in time. Together they have introduced a series that will certainly create as much debate and scrutiny as Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code."

Dr. Erin Granger and her team are examining an archaeological dig in Caesarea, Israel, when she's asked to assist in Masada. A hidden tomb has been uncovered in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake. A deadly gas was released during the quake, and the sole survivor is shocked to discover that his cancer-ridden body is now disease-free.

Granger teams up with a military forensic expert and a Vatican priest to examine the tomb. While unearthing a sarcophagus, the team is attacked by strange creatures.

"The Blood Gospel" is a combination of religious conspiracy and another popular genre, and to reveal more about the concept behind this engaging novel would be a crime.

Clark's new mystery an irresistible read

"Footprints in the Sand" (William Morrow), by Mary Jane Clark

Piper Donovan, the heroine of a mystery series by Mary Jane Clark, is fearless and inquisitive, and this trait often puts her in danger. In "Footprints in the Sand," the latest in the series, she finds herself in a particularly lethal situation.

She isn't a professional sleuth. A struggling actress, Piper designs wedding cakes part time in her mother's New Jersey bakery. And every time she bakes a cake, she somehow ends up having a close encounter with a murderer.

The latest episode unfolds on the idyllic barrier island of Siesta Key, Fla., where Piper's cousin Kathy is looking forward to glorious nuptials. But things soon start to go wrong.

Her bridesmaid, Shelley, disappears, and her blood-stained car is found. More disturbing events follow as the anonymous man responsible for Shelley's disappearance struggles to silence any witnesses.

Who is this evil character? Is it the groom, Shelley's one-time boyfriend? Or is it the best man, a former drug dealer? It could be anyone, including the boyfriend of the bride's widowed mother, Kathy's wedding planner and a local doctor with a thriving practice.

Mystery fans will have a great time trying to identify the culprit before Piper does, but the novel offers a lot more than a mystery's usual puzzle-solving fun. Like other Clark novels, it also packs the heart-pounding suspense usually found in top-notch thrillers.

This makes "Footprints" an irresistible read with wide appeal.

-- THE ASSOCIATED PRESS