Cash Landing cover image is courtesy of barnesandnoble.com.
Cash Landing is the second novel from author James Grippando that has been released in 2015 (following January's Cane and Abe). Cash Landing is based on real-life crime that occurred during the fall of 2005. Grippando's novel focuses on a band of amateur thieves that is successful in pulling of an airport heist, but is less successful in dealing with all that money.
Cash Landing introduces Karl “Ruban” Betancourt, a guy who has always played by the rules. Being a goodie-good didn't stop the bank from taking his house, nor did it stop his restaurant business from going bust. Ruban thinks that he and his wife, Savannah, deserve more than what life has given them.
Every week, a hundred million dollars in cash arrives at Miami International Airport. That money is shipped by German banks to the Miami branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, and only a select group of trusted workers moves the bags through customs and loads them into armored cars. These commercial jets pregnant with bags of U.S. currency are called “money flights.” Ruban plans on “catching” one of those flights in order to get the money he believes he deserves.
In November 2009, Ruban makes the big move with his crew: Jeffrey Beauchamp, Ruban's coke-head brother-in-law; Craig “Pinky” Perez, Jeff's uncle who is also an ex-con; Octavia Alvarez, Ruban's longtime friend who came over from Cuba with him; and bit-player, Marco Aroyo. Their target is Lufthansa flight 462 (a Boeing 747), and Ruban and company pull off a successful heist, speeding away with $7.4 million in cash. However, FBI Special Agent Andrea “Andie” Henning believes the best way to catch these thieves is to follow the money, but there are actually several interested parties looking to follow the money.
THE LOWDOWN:Cash Landing is the fourth James Grippando novel that I have read. I loved the first three, but I am disappointed in Cash Landing. It really isn't a heist novel so much as it is a crime drama. The problem is that the drama is boiler plate and the characters are mere shadows, unable to become fully developed characters, even by the end of this novel.
Honestly, I don't like the characters in this book. I don't care about their motivations, and I took only a little more interest in their conflicts. Even Andie Henning, who has been an exciting character in other Grippando novels, is flat here. Spoiler alert: Jack Swyteck, the star of several of Grippando's novels, makes a cameo appearance in Cash Landing. I squealed when he was revealed; yes – squealed. I did not know that I liked this fictional dude so much. Anyway, Cash Landing is not so bad that it is unreadable, but if an unknown or unpublished writer tried to sell this book to Harper, he or she would receive a form rejection letter from the publisher.
POSSIBLE AUDIENCE: Die hard fans of James Grippando may be the only ones who want to read Cash Landing.