Afraid of the Dark (Jack Swyteck)
by James Grippando
Review by Steve Sawicki
Harper Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780061840289
Date: 01 April 2011 List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Jack Swyteck has been called in to save Jamal, a guy who's been burning time in Guantanamo for being a terrorist but who was also named as the murderer of a young woman--the daughter of an up and coming computer data mining business. Sergeant Vince Paulo, friend of the business owner, was to keep an eye on her while his friend traveled. Tapping in to her cell phone texts he feels she's just moments away from deep trouble. He rushes to the scene only to find her, stabbed, bleeding, and dying. As she dies he asks her to name the one who did it to her. She names Jamal. Moments later a blast nearly kills Paulo, instead blinding him, and burning down the house and any evidence. Seems like an open and shut case. Problem is, Jamal claims he was being held in a black ops site in Prague at the time of the murder. Swyteck finds himself inexorably drawn to the case and begins to put together clues that seem to confirm Jamal's story. But, if Jamal is not the killer, then the killer is still out there and Swyteck is putting himself at risk when he begins his pursuit of the truth.
This is one of the more complicated Jack Swyteck novels. It should also be noted that Andie Henning, FBI agent, as well as Theo, Jack's friend and bar owner play very minor roles in the book. The book is also quite dark, delving into realms of child pornography, abduction, sadism, and sexual control of young women for the pursuit of profit. Not necessarily light bed time reading. Part of this feels like it's getting a bit far afield, especially when Jack ends up in Prague and then England, chasing down leads. Feels a bit as if Grippando discovered an interesting story and decided to have Jack Swyteck manage it rather than writing a stand alone. Maybe not. I can't say what goes on in an author's head.
Overall I enjoyed the book. It is very fast paced, has a complicated and convoluted plot, introduces some interesting characters, and shows a utilization of technology that most people probably have not thought all that deeply about. The story is interesting, if very dark and somewhat disturbing. All in all, it's a fast, intriguing read.
Definitely recommended although if you are easily disturbed by child pornography or the intentional abuse of women you might want to pass.