Cane and Abe is the new novel from James Grippando, a New York Times bestselling author of legal thrillers. My previous experiences with Grippando are the two most recent novels in his Jack Swyteck series. In Cane and Abe, a prosecutor becomes the prime suspect in his wife's disappearance, which may be connected to a serial killer haunting the cane fields of South Florida.
Abraham “Abe” Beckham is the senior trial counsel at the Office of the State Attorney for Miami-Dade County. Abe may a star prosecutor, but he has suffered some heartache. He lost the love of his life, his beautiful wife, Samantha Vine, to cancer. Some say he remarried to quickly, when Abe wed Angelina, who had been his girlfriend before he married Samantha.
Abe's personal soap opera takes a backseat when a woman's body is discovered, dumped in the Everglades, and Abe is called upon to monitor the investigation. The FBI is tracking a serial killer in South Florida, who is called “Cutter,” and this body may belong to his latest victim. Cutter's brutal methods of murder recall Florida's dark past, when men, who were practically turned into slaves by large sugar companies, cut sugarcane by hand with a machete in the blazing sun.
Then, things go horribly wrong. Angelina disappears, and for some reason, FBI Agent Victoria Santos makes Abe the top suspect in both his wife's disappearance and in the murder of the woman just found in the Everglades. Suspicion surrounds Abe, mainly because everyone seems to suspect him of doing something wrong. And Cutter may watching him.
THE LOWDOWN: I have to admit that Cane and Abe is indeed the “spellbinding” novel that HarperCollins, the book's publisher, calls it. HarperCollins gave me a galley copy of Cane and Abe for review, and I'm glad they did. I found this book hard to stop reading once I started. It is a summer potboiler for chilly winter nights, and it casts a spell that binds you to its riveting prose.
However, Cane and Abe is about 40 to 50 pages too long. That is what keeps it from being the perfect suspense and mystery thriller. There is a point where the novel should end. Past that point, Cane and Abe alternates between being engaging and being annoying. Authors should also realize that red herrings can sometimes become stinky fish that can ruin a story, when there are too many of them. Luckily, James Grippando fills this novel with characters that do crazy things, the kind of crazy things which actually make sense from the standpoint of motivation.
What keeps Cane and Abe from being derailed by being a bit too long (see, size does matter) is that the reader will try to find out what each character's part in this conspiracy is. What is his or her's real motivation? That will keep you thinking about the book on those occasions when you have to stop reading it for a bit.
POSSIBLE AUDIENCE: Fans of James Grippando's charms and also of lawyer/FBI thrillers will want to meet Cane and Abe.