When Darkness Falls (Jack Swyteck Series #6)

When Darkness Falls (Jack Swyteck Series #6)

by James Grippando

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In the latest novel from the bestselling author whom critics have called "the thriller writer to watch," lawyer Jack Swyteck tackles a case in which the life of his best friend hangs in the balance—and in which nothing is as it seems.

Miami criminal defense attorney Jack Swyteck isn't looking for a new client, at least not one who is homeless and in jail for threatening to jump off a bridge. But from the moment Jack is called to defend the man, who goes by the name Falcon, something is amiss. For one thing, Falcon comes up with the $10,000 bail—in cash. Then the body of a brutally murdered woman is found in the trunk of the abandoned car in which he is living.

Panicked and on the run, Falcon takes Jack's best friend, Theo, hostage. They end up barricaded in a motel room, and Theo isn't the only one at Falcon's mercy. Jack must work with the cops and their crackerjack negotiator to free Theo and the other captives before Falcon decides he has nothing to lose by killing them all.

What Jack doesn't know is that Falcon has a much bigger agenda, and that there are people behind the scenes who will stop at nothing to keep their dangerous secrets. Thus unfolds a riveting, lightning-paced story, as only James Grippando can tell it.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061755866
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/13/2009
Series: Jack Swyteck Series , #6
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 49,117
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

James Grippando is a New York Times bestselling author of suspense. He was a trial lawyer for twelve years before the publication of his first novel, The Pardon, in 1994. He is now counsel at the law firm of Boies Schiller Flexner LLP and an adjunct professor of law and modern literature at the University of Miami School of Law. His novels are enjoyed world-wide in twenty-eight languages, and his novel Gone Again won the 2017 Harper Lee Prize in Legal Fiction. He lives in South Florida.


Coral Gables, Florida

Date of Birth:

January 27, 1958

Place of Birth:

Waukegan, Illinois


B.A. with High Honors, University of Florida, 1980; J.D. with Honors, University of Florida, 1982

Read an Excerpt

When Darkness Falls

By James Grippando

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2007 James Grippando
All right reserved.

Chapter One

Sergeant Vincent Paulo couldn't see the man who had climbed to the very top of the William Powell Bridge. Paulo couldn't even see the damn bridge. He heard the desperation in the man's voice, however, and he knew this one was a jumper. After seven years as a crisis negotiator with the City of Miami Police Department, there were some things you just knew, even if you were blind.

Especially if you were blind.

"Falcon," he called out for the umpteenth time, his voice amplified by a police megaphone. "This is Vincent Paulo you're talking to. We can work this out, all right?"

The man was atop a lamppost--as high in the sky as he could possibly get--looking down from his roost. The views of Miami had to be spectacular from up there. Paulo, however, could only imagine the blue-green waters of the bay, the high-rise condominiums along the waterfront like so many dominoes ready to topple in a colossal chain reaction. Cruise ships, perhaps, were headed slowly out to sea, trails of white smoke puffing against a sky so blue that no cloud dared to disturb it. Traffic, they told him, was backed up for miles in each direction, west toward the mainland and east toward the island of Key Biscayne. There were squad cars, a SWAT van, teams of police officers, police boats in the bay, and a legion of media vans and reporters swarming the bridge. Paulo could hear the helicopterswhirring all around, as local news broadcasted the entire episode live into South Florida living rooms.

All this, for one of Miami's homeless. He called himself Falcon, and the name was a perfect fit. He was straddling the lamppost, his legs intertwined with the metalwork so that he could stand erect without holding on to anything. He was a life-size imitation of an old-fashioned hood ornament, without the chrome finish--chin up, chest out, his body extended out over the water, arms outstretched like the wings of a bird. Like a falcon. Paulo had a uniformed officer at his side to describe the situation to him, but she was hardly needed. It wasn't the first time Paulo had been called upon to stop one of Miami's homeless from hurting himself. It wasn't even his first encounter with Falcon. Twice in the past eighteen months, Falcon had climbed atop a bridge and assumed the same falcon-like pose. Each time, Paulo had talked him down. But this time was different.

It was Vince's first assignment since losing his eyesight.

And for the first time, he was absolutely convinced that this one was going to jump.

"Falcon, just come down and talk. It's the best way for everyone."

"No more bullshit!" he shouted. "I want to talk to the mayor's daughter. Get her here in fifteen minutes, or I'm doing a face plant onto the old bridge."

The Powell Bridge is like a big arc over Biscayne Bay. Cyclists call it "Miami Mountain," though as suicides go, it is no match for the Golden Gate in San Francisco or the George Washington in New York. The crest is only seventy-eight feet above mean tide. Even with the added thirty vertical feet of the lamppost, it was debatable whether Falcon's plunge into the bay would be fatal. The old causeway runs parallel to the new bridge, however, and it is still used as a fishing pier. A hundred-foot swan dive onto solid concrete wouldn't be pretty--especially on live television.

"You ready to punt yet, Paulo?" The voice came from over Vince's left shoulder, and he recognized the speaker as Juan Chavez, SWAT team coordinator.

Vince cut off his megaphone. "Let's talk to the chief."

The walk back to the police van was clear of obstacles, and Vince had memorized the way. His long white walking stick was almost unnecessary. He and Chavez entered the van through the side door and sat across from one another in the rear captains' chairs. An officer outside the van slid the door closed as Chavez dialed headquarters on an encrypted telephone. The call went directly to Miami's chief of police, who was watching the standoff on television. Her first words weren't exactly the vote of confidence Vince needed.

"It's been over two hours now, Paulo. I'm not seeing much progress."

"It took me almost twice that long to talk him down from the Golden Glades flyover last winter."

"I understand that," said the chief. "I guess what I'm asking is, are you comfortable doing this?"

"Now that I'm blind, you mean?"

"Don't get me wrong. I'm glad you decided to stay with the force and teach at the academy. I called you back into the field because you have a history with this guy, but the last thing I want to do is to put you in a situation that you don't think you can handle."

"I can handle it fine, Chief."

"Great, but time is a factor. I shouldn't have to remind you that no one in Miami keeps gloves in the glove compartment. If this sucker doesn't climb down soon, one of those stranded motorists is going to reach for his revolver and take him out for us."

"I say we move in now," said Chavez.

Vince said, "Don't you think a three-oh-eight-caliber, custom-built thunderstick is a bit of overkill against a homeless guy perched on a lamppost?"

"No one's talking about a sniper shot. I just want to move our team closer into position, make them more visible. We need to send a message that our patience is wearing thin."

"If he thinks SWAT is coming up there after him, he'll jump."

"The same tactic worked just fine the last time."

"This time is different."

"How do you know?"

"I can tell."

"What, going blind made you psychic?"

That made Vince blink, but dark sunglasses hid plenty of pain. "Shove it, Chavez."

"All right, fellas, knock it off," said the chief.

"I'm serious," said Chavez. "This isn't the first time we've had to deal with a homeless guy threatening to hurt himself. Nine times out of ten, they just want a little attention. I'd like to know what makes Paulo think this is the real deal." "That seems like a fair question," said the chief.

"All right," said Vince. "For one, it may be his third time up on a bridge, but it's the first time that Falcon has made a specific demand. And it's a fairly rational one at that. It's not as if he wants us to make the bubble people stop stealing his thoughts. Just as important, he's set a time limit. A short one--fifteen minutes. You factor in the stress in his voice, and you've got a man on the edge."

"Wait a minute," said Chavez. "Because he shows some signs of clear-headed thinking, that makes him more of a danger to himself?"

"In some ways, yes. The only way Falcon climbs down from that lamppost is if he gives up on his demand to talk to the mayor's daughter. Because he still shows some signs of rational thought, he will very likely feel overwhelming humiliation when the television world sees him fail. If we send the SWAT team up that pole before he's ready to accept his public failure, you might as well push him off the bridge yourself."

"How about soaking him with a fire hose?" said the chief. "Or maybe a stun gun."

"There again, we're on live television," said Vince. "You knock him off that lamppost and we'll have two dozen personal-injury lawyers handing him business cards before he hits the ground."

There was silence, each officer thinking it through. Finally, the chief said, "I suppose we could promise to give him what he wants."

"You mean let him talk to the mayor's daughter?" said Vince.

"No, I said promise it. That's his only demand, right?"

"Bad move," said Vince. "A negotiator never promises anything he can't deliver. Or that he has no intention of delivering."

"For once I agree with Paulo," said Chavez. "But I think--"

Vince waited for him to finish, but Chavez seemed to have lost his train of thought. "You think what?" said Vince.

"I think it doesn't matter what we think. The mayor's daughter is here." "What?"

"I can see her through the windshield right now."

Vince picked up the sound of approaching footsteps outside the van. The side door slid open, and he could feel her presence. "Hello, Vince," she said.


Excerpted from When Darkness Falls by James Grippando Copyright © 2007 by James Grippando. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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When Darkness Falls 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 56 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book as I have enjoyed all the books in this series, however, I thought that the story bogged down with the hostage situation and all the backstory that was meeted out in small portions. It's like Jack and Theo were tied down by a slow moving story.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Attorney Jack Swyteck agrees to represent Falcon, a homeless man who stops traffic for hours when he stands on a bridge and threatens to jump--his only demand, to speak to the Mayor's daughter, police officer Alicia Mendoza. Falcon comes to an agreement with hostage negotiator Vincent Paulo, but is soon captured. Jack's less than grateful client manages to make bail and is on the run after a dead woman is found in the trunk of a car he calls home. Jack soon finds himself in the middle of a hostile situation where Falcon has taken his best friend, Theo, and a woman hostage. Jack, with the help of Paulo, Alicia, and several law enforcement agencies jockeying for jurisdictional command, must race to meet the demands of an unstable man to save his friend. What's revealed are dark secrets that stretch from Argentina, the Bahamas, to Miami's political elite. Miami's rich setting is a character of its own with diverse culture, rich cuisine and changing weather that sets the tone and raises the stakes in this adrenaline-charged thriller. The characters and scenes are made even more vivid through the experiences of a blind man, Sergeant Vincent Paulo, not because of the strength of his other senses, but because of his insight and skill as an experienced hostage negotiator. Even Falcon proves to be not your typical monster. He's likable despite his absurd demands and acerbic wit. There is also enough humor weaved throughout to ease the tension on the volatile situation. This is one high-powered thrill ride. The more pages I turned, the more I craved. Grippando knows how to grab your attention and keep it. Be prepared to devour this in one sitting because once you turn the cover, Grippando has you! Excellent!
harstan More than 1 year ago
Miami Police Sergeant Vincent Paulo has been a crisis negotiator for seven years, but this incident with Falcon on the Powell Bridge over Biscayne Bay is his first since he went blind. Vince has talked Falcon out of soaring in the past, but he was sighted then. Falcon insists on speaking with the mayor's daughter, police officer Alicia Mendoza, in fifteen minutes or else. As Vince, SWAT leader Juan Chavez and the Chief discuss what to do, Alicia arrives at the scene. Hearing her voice stuns Vince, who when he lost his sight informed her they must stop seeing each other. --- When Paulo persuades Falcon to come down from the bridge, three SWAT cops grab him and arrest him. Freedom Institute boss Neil Goodrich refers the case to criminal defense lawyer Jack Swyteck, who meets with his new client to find out if Falcon lucid. He insists he can pay his bond and his lawyer. Not long afterward, Falcon changes his modus operendi of threatening to leap off bridges when he wants to talk with city officials by holding several hostages including Jack's friend, Theo Knight. Jack works with Vince trying to prevent the tragedy of innocent people killed because of incidents going back over two decades ago to Argentina's Dirty War. --- The key characters are terrific and make this thriller a winner in spite of a seemingly improbable over the top but exhilarating plot. Vince provides insightful observations on how the sighted treat a blind person is classifying them into those who assume blind means pathetic and those who deem it means psychic. Jack and Falcon are a wonderful pairing as their lawyer-client discussions are priceless. The rest of the cast adds to the understanding of these three men or push forward this exciting story line that grips its audience from the moment Falcon perches on the bridge and never lets readers go until the final leap. --- Harriet Klausner
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love this series and this book does not disappoint.. Fast paced and the characters are wonderful. Looking forward to the next Jack Swyteck and Theo mystery.
jenforbus on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When a homeless man is threatening to jump off a bridge unless he can talk to the only daughter of Miami's Mayor, Vince Paulo, a blind hostage negotiator, is brought in to talk him down. Once Falcon, the homeless man, is down, Jack Swyteck is called in to defend Falcon with his legal proceedings stemming from the bridge incident. But the bridge incident turns out to be the least of Falcon's legal issues. The Mayor is dead set against his daughter going anywhere near Falcon, even though she is a trained police officer. What are all the secrets about and why does Falcon want so desperately to speak with a woman he's never even met before?WHEN DARKNESS FALLS is the first book I've read by Grippando. I did not realize it was the sixth in the Jack Swyteck series. I tend to like to start at the first book in a series, and WHEN DARKNESS FALLS is a prime example why. I think I missed a lot of what others might find appealing, having no background on any of these characters. From a newbies point of view there seemed to be three kind of mini-plots (Falcon, Vince and Alicia, Jack and Theo) that all converged on a hostage situation in a motel - none of them seemed to stand out as the "main" plot until later in the novel, and it didn't really have anything to do with Jack Swyteck. And that's perfectly fine! In a series about a lawyer, every case can't be personally connected to the lawyer. But as I was explaining, not having known this was a series about Jack beforehand, I didn't realize he was the series regular just from this book's plot. It was almost like there needed to be more focus in the book.I listened to this book on audio, read by Jonathan Davis. I've listened to other works recorded by Davis, and I always feel like he's overly dramatic, and I know that takes a bit away from the book for me.At the beginning of the novel I felt completely lost. There were two entirely different plots (one containing the three mini-plots mentioned above and then a second major plot) taking place and no connection between them whatsoever. The second plot seemed to come out of the blue with no warning and then vanished just as quickly. A couple discs later I was wondering what happened to it. Eventually it did come back, though. Then at about the midpoint of the book, everything was completely clear and the ending was very obvious. There was no mystery to it for me. Therefore, I wasn't that impressed with the plot. There were several elements I found cliche - which was why I was able to predict the plot. For the most part the characters were O.k. The character I really loved was Jack's friend, Theo Knight. Grippando has a gem in that character! He's funny, sarcastic, intelligent. He was also wrongly convicted and on Death Row before Jack exonerated him; that gave him a distinction; it added to his complexity as a character. The character of Theo Knight made the whole book worth listening to. I kind of expected Grippando to do more with Vince. He was an intriguing character given the fact that he was blind and a hostage negotiator. I really wanted to know his character more.Overall it was an enjoyable book to listen to on my rides to and from work.
siggy99 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An entry in the Jack Swytek series that has a promising premise that doesn't work out to its fullest extent. Swytek has taken on a client who is not all there in his head. During a chase, the client ends up taking Swytek's best friend Theo and a few others hostage. Great premise, not so great execution. One for fans of the Swytek series or Grippando only.
evensonly on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A high powered suspence thriller that is real page turner. It was hard to put down. I plan on reading more from this author. A really great read. Highly recommend it.
abcarroll on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A great mystery/suspense story with some great twists. Definately worth your time to read.
Gatorhater on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Negotiator Sergeant Vincent Paulo is called to his 1st assignment since loosing his eyesight, a suicide jumper at a Miami bridge, Falcon. He's a homeless man living abandoned car, his only request to the negotiator is that he wants to talk with the mayor's daughter, Alicia Mendoza. After he's talked down and arrested, Miami criminal defense lawyer, Jack Swyteck is hired to represent him, at his arraignment, bail is set at 10 thousand dollars. Jack figures it could have been 100 dollars, there's no way that Falcon can come up with bail, surprisingly he informs Jack that he has a safety deposit box at the Greater Bahamian Bank and Trust Company in Nassau and sends Jack to get his bail. Upon opening Falcon's deposit box, there's over two hundred thousand dollars in cash there, how does a homeless man living in a broken down car have this kind of cash. Shortly after Jack pays Falcon's bail, a dead body is found in Falcon's cars trunk by Jack and best friend Theo Knight and all sort of questions arrise over these and other peculiar events. The pages keep turning, things are happening fast with a unbelievable ending to this most enjoyable novel, had a hard time putting it down.
moonshineandrosefire on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Miami lawyer Jack Swyteck defends a homeless man named Falcon who takes hostages at a hotel after being released from jail. Falcon has among his hostages, Theo Knight, a man who Swyteck once pulled off death row and who became his best friend. He also wants to talk to Alicia Mendoza, a police officer who's dating the blind hostage negotiatior and happens to be the mayor's daughter. What Jack doesn't know is that Falcon has a deeper agenda and is panicked enough to do anything to clear his name. I did enjoy this book. It was written very well but was a little convoluted plot wise. I give it B+!
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The book was good. I've read all of them so far and they keep your attention. His books are always "active". There is always something happening to keep you interested. I found this to be the best one yet. I really could not put it down. It's worth a try. Enjoy.
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harleygal57 More than 1 year ago
I have read the first two and am looking for the third, but can't seem to locate it, so, I feel like I'm stuck in the battered hotel room with Falcon and am never getting out. But trust me, the books are on the edge of your seat/don't want ot put it down, reading.
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Khalia Steadman More than 1 year ago
I cant stop re-reading this book!! Thats how amazing this book is!!!!
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