Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Review of "Cane and Abe" by James Grippando




Abe Beckham, a prosecutor in the Miami State's Attorney Office, is attached to the case of a serial killer operating in the area. The murderer - dubbed 'Cutter' by the media - uses a machete to slaughter white women involved with black men. He then smears their faces with dark ashes and leaves their bodies in sugar cane fields in the Florida Everglades. The darkened faces are considered Cutter's signature. Thus, when the body of a black woman missing it's head is found in the Everglades, authorities aren't sure if Cutter is responsible or if it's the work of a copycat. The body is soon identified as Tyla Tomkins, an attorney that represents a huge sugar cane grower.

Most of the story is narrated in the first person by Abe Beckham, who tells investigators that he knows Tyla Tomkins, and last saw her about 10 years ago. Because he's acquainted with a possible victim, Abe is removed from the Cutter case. Turns out that Abe is a little more than just 'acquainted' with Tyla and he's forced to admit he had a one-night-stand with the beautiful lawyer all those years ago. Then - when surveillance photos from a classy restaurant come to light - Abe has to fess up that he had dinner with Tyla pretty recently. At this point, I start to think of Abe as "liar liar, pants on fire." So does FBI agent Victoria Santos, who becomes convinced that Abe killed Tyla.

Things get even worse for Abe when someone sends the restaurant photos to his wife, Angelina. The troubled couple have a blowout and the next day Angelina disappears. Agent Santos now thinks Abe killed his wife as well as Tyla. Santos, in addition to pursuing Cutter, takes it on herself to try to pin a couple of crimes on Abe. This forms the jist of the story.

Through it all, Abe has to deal with JT, the bipolar brother of his first wife Samantha, who died of cancer. JT is under house arrest for acting out in public and is constantly calling Abe in desperation, needing food, reassurance, and company. JT is one of the most vividly drawn characters in the book, and though I can't say I like him, he is compelling.

By the end, who did what is revealed and there are some surprises. There are also some revelations that might not be so surprising.

All in all this is a good suspense story that I'd recommend to mystery fans.

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