BLACK HORIZON. By James Grippando. Harper. 384 pages. $25.99.
"Black Horizon," the eleventh book in James Grippando's Jack Swyteck series, revisits the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 and then does it one better, sending oil straight at the Florida Keys.
Intrepid criminal defense attorney Swyteck is on his honeymoon at a sleepy Keys resort when an oil rig explodes during a tropical storm in Cuban waters. In reality, exploratory oil drilling off Cuba's shores has come up dry, but Grippando conjures up a worst-case scenario in which an oil consortium is stacked by companies based in countries sometimes hostile to the U.S., the Cuban government won't allow the U.S. to offer its cleanup expertise and a gusher of oil can't be stopped.
Swyteck gets more than he bargained for when he agrees to take a Key West waitress' wrongful death lawsuit seeking compensation for her husband who died aboard the rig. The courtroom drama quickly escalates into kidnapping, government secrecy and sabotage.
Somewhere, a cheerful yet firm commercial is probably still airing to remind tourists that Florida's beaches are oil-free. Meanwhile, Grippando's fun legal thriller offers a breezy tour of the policies that shape life in South Florida and its Caribbean neighbors.
Jennifer Kay, Associated Press
THE ACCIDENT. By Chris Pavone. Crown. 400 pages. $26.
Chris Pavone, author of the compelling "The Expats," returns with his new novel, "The Accident," a journey into the world of book publishing and secrets.
Literary agent Isabel Reed receives a hand-delivered manuscript from an anonymous author. She's a bit put off, but when she starts reading the mysterious manuscript, she can't put it down. The revelations in the narrative would easily create a scandal involving one of the world's most powerful men.
Isabel knows an editor named Jeff who can keep a secret and who understands the kind of explosion the book's publication would cause.
Meanwhile, CIA operative Hayden Gray has been tracking the manuscript's elusive author. He's done everything to make sure the revelations contained in the book never see the light of day, and he's shocked to learn that Isabel has read it. He has a bold decision to make.
Then Isabel's assistant is found dead, and Isabel realizes she and Jeff might be next.
The setup that Pavone unveils is quite tantalizing, and it would have been easy to have the secret be unremarkable. But the author avoids that trap with terrific surprises and high-quality writing in this engaging thriller.
Jeff Ayers, Associated Press
THE CHASE. By Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg. Bantam. 320 pages. $28.
Janet Evanovich, author of the popular Stephanie Plum series, and Lee Goldberg, who has written several novels and TV shows, return with a follow-up to their popular adventure "The Heist." The action never stops in "The Chase," and a humorous tone keeps everything moving at a fun clip.
FBI agent Kate O'Hare had been trying to capture master con artist Nicolas Fox for quite some time. When she succeeds, her bosses unveil a plan to use Fox and his connections to bring down even bigger criminals.
In "The Chase," an artifact sacred to the Chinese government is in the possession of the Smithsonian Institution. A deal is struck, and a representative from the Chinese plans to retrieve it. However, the one housed in the Smithsonian is a fake.
O'Hare and Fox must learn who stole the original, retrieve it, steal the replica and replace it with the real one. Can they pull off the various heists without anyone figuring out what they are doing? Can they keep their alliance secret? And will they be able to keep their budding feelings for each other alive, assuming they survive?
The characters are exciting, and the story escalates as the initial job becomes more elaborate. Readers familiar with Evanovich's novels will love this series, and hopefully there will be more adventures by this writing duo.
Jeff Ayers, Associated Press