On July 5, 2011, Casey Anthony was found not guilty in the death of her two-year-old daughter, Caylee. The trial lasted six weeks and had the nation riveted. The court of public opinion would have seen Casey pronounced guilty and most likely subjected to the death penalty. However, as seen with the O.J. Simpson courtroom spectacle, justice does not always prevail in these high-profile cases. With his latest release, BLOOD MONEY, author and trial lawyer James Grippando has fashioned a fictional story ripped directly from the headlines. Additionally, the plot is strongly influenced by the events and aftermath of the infamous Casey Anthony trial.
"BLOOD MONEY grabs the reader by the jugular and never lets up. It proposes a hugely entertaining 'what if' scenario that deftly blends public sentiment, media and real-life events into a fast-paced novel that may be the best installment of the Swyteck series to date."
In this tale, Miami criminal defense attorney Jack Swyteck is defending cocktail waitress Sydney Bennett, who has been accused of murdering her two-year-old child. Her hard partying and impersonal attitude towards the proceedings have found her dubbed the “Shot Mom” by the opposing attorney. This sentiment has been picked up by the throngs of anti-Sydney protesters as well as the constant coverage from BNN (Breaking News Network), which is providing around-the-clock updates on the trial.
Once Sydney, like Casey Anthony, is found not guilty, everything turns crazy. Threats are made, and much of the nation is shocked and angry. Swyteck must find a way to safely get his client away from the courthouse and prison through an angry mob calling for her head. In an act of profane vigilantism, a college student named Celeste Laramore, who resembles the defendant, is attacked outside the courthouse and ends up in a coma.
With all of the anti-Sydney sentiment that is coming down upon Swyteck and his firm, he is unsure of what to do to spin himself out of the spotlight. Those who are against him feel that any notoriety or income he makes as a result of the case is literally blood money earned at the expense of a dead two-year-old.
Swyteck is immediately faced with two dilemmas. The first is when the parents of the comatose teen hire him to represent them in a lawsuit against both the courthouse and BNN --- which they dually claim as being responsible for their daughter’s condition. The second issue is the fact that the person behind the Laramore attack is attempting to blackmail Swyteck into giving up Sydney’s hideout. If Swyteck does not comply, he and those close to him are threatened with violence. Making matters worse, BNN and their attorneys are countersuing Swyteck and seeking to overturn the not guilty verdict as they turn up evidence that the jury foreman may have been bribed to deliver the controversial decision
With two cases pending in the wake of the Bennett trial, Swyteck is under the gun and in serious danger without any way of knowing where the real threat is coming from or who may be behind it. BLOOD MONEY grabs the reader by the jugular and never lets up. It proposes a hugely entertaining “what if” scenario that deftly blends public sentiment, media and real-life events into a fast-paced novel that may be the best installment of the Swyteck series to date.
Reviewed by Ray Palen on January 18, 2013