Cane and Abe: James Grippando
Appearances can often be deceiving as one man’s past comes haunting him in the present and his life is about to unravel. A man whose wife died from an incurable illness, cares for her mentally disabled brother, J.T. and visits her father in the nursing home he lives, finds that his past will not leave him alone, the brother in law that he takes care of might be hiding a secret, and his mental status comes into question quite often. Abe Beckham might be a prosecuting attorney at the Miami State Attorney’s Office but that does make him immune to ridicule, suspicion and resentment when his present marriage begins to fall apart and circumstances surrounding a murder investigation he’s handling resembles that of someone called THE CUTTER. The victims are all white women that dated black men in the first set of murders but this time the woman if black? Are they all connected or is someone trying to throw the police off of his trail?
Victoria Santos is a relentless FBI agent whose allegiance is to herself and her job and not to anyone else. When appearing to cooperate with other agencies it’s only a ruse to get information. Along with Detective Riddel and Detective Reyes the investigation into the murder of another victim found in the Everglades begins but the final result and the victim are linked to Abe. Tyla Tomkins is the victim and a phone call appears on Abe’s phone and several voice messages too. Seeming to have resumed a relationship with her when telling everyone they have not connected in a long time, sets the spotlight right on Abe and has him withdrawn and placed out of the loop. With Riddel’s help and friendship he learns some of what they suspect and it leads back to his first wife’s father who cut sugar cane.
As the investigation gets underway and the victim is identified FBI agent Victoria Santos comes front and center to help run the investigation. Enlisting Abe’s help and wanting him to help lead the investigation the name of the victim would alert everyone that things are about to change. Angelina does not seem to be a very tolerant person and although J.T. consumes a lot of his time, and is his first wife’s brother, she resents it and feels that he needs to cut off all ties to his previous life and devote his time to her.
Angelina does not like how involved Abe is with J. T. and Abe’s fidelity is in question when it becomes known that he is connected to the latest victim. Angelina goes missing and is feared to be the newest victim. Abe goes from star prosecutor to the main suspect in his wife’s disappearance.
The bodies are cut up and the victims are left on the fields of the Sugar companies. Author James Grippando gives readers a first hand knowledge of what these companies are like, the fact that many naïve young men came to work for them not realizing the hardships they would face. Added in each victim had a specific trademark that was left on their faces. Ash was smudged on their faces and this comes through when they see the photographs of the victims. As they look closer into the latest death they realize that there are some differences. The history of the sugar companies:
Sugarcane is a plant that does provide sugar and alcohol. Its cultivation began or originated from Southeastern Asia. Introduced in Brazil about five centuries ago, then Brazil was a colony of Portugal. Sugarcane and gold believe it or not at this time were valued the same. The people of Portugal were the few who had to resources needed to explore more venues and search for new lands to conquer and profit. In 1532 the Portuguese arrived here with the sugarcane plant, took the sugarcane they found on their trips to plant and have their own supply or production. The author includes more information about this business and why so many were still involved.
Added in we learn more about Luther Vine and the crimes attested to these companies when hiring these young men to harvest the cane as cutters. Workers were put into debt as soon as they began working. Instead of giving them the tools they needed the money was deducted from their meager wages and they were charged for food and drinks as well as blankets. These men were in debt to their employers and many could not find a way out. As the killer is being sought and Abe seems to be in the spotlight something happens between him and Angelina what changes things even more and turns the heat up on to a burning inferno.
Abe is placed in many awkward positions and submits to a polygraph test related to his wife’s disappearance and fails it. Questions subjectively asked and answers that would relate back to his first wife and other incidents places him in more than just the limelight. But, things start to seem strange and the reasons for his wife disappearance become apparent and the spotlight is now on someone else but just whom can he trust? Who is really on his side and what was behind Angelina’s disappearance.
Checking into the callers that appeared on Tyla’s cell phone it leads to another lead player involved with the sugar companies. Just how many men was she involved with and where would this investigation take everyone when truths are revealed and lies come to the surface. Brian Belter is the loyal for the Corinas Sugar Company and his alliance with Alberto Cortinas is something less than desired. As information comes to light about his relationship with Tyla, Cortinas explains why he’s on his own and he will disavow any knowledge. Missing Tyla’s funeral when summoned to meet this man trying to explain to him the FBI’s position does not change what is said to him and the fact that the FBI is using Tyla’s murder as an excuse to go after the sugar companies.
J.T. has become Abe’s responsibility and is bipolar. He is difficult, often does things on impulse and is known to commit dangerous acts. Getting to know J.T. you begin to realize that he has hidden secrets that he does not want revealed. As author James Grippando brings to light just why Tyla was killed, the reason and how this connects to someone from Abe’s past, a pattern emerges and things might seem to fall into place but then there is a serious twist.
As Angelina’s disappearance comes to and end and the reasons behind it come front and center Abe learns something from a friend that might change everything and possibly life the cloud or fog that is covering his eyes to see someone more clearly. An ending that will make you wonder just what is in store for Abe and whether he will wash off the black ash that seems to be covering his eyes as a harsh truth about someone close to him is revealed and a decision has to be made. With her parents at her side and a high priced attorney, Angelina seems bent on forging ahead, keeping Abe at her side but why and why?
An ending packed with suspense, twists and an easy feeling left in the reader wondering: Is Abe’s decision the right one? What is next for him? Will he remain as a star prosecutor at the Miami State’s Attorney’s Office? What happens when the real Cutter is caught? You won’t believe how! Just how relentless is Santos and why is she out for Abe? As the coordinator for the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crimes, she is the link between the FBI and local law enforcement. Who is at the root of the killings? Who killed Tyla Tomkins and why? An ending only author James Grippando can write and a character named Abe Beckman that might find himself covered in black ash like the victims if he does not pay attention to what is right in front of him.
Fran Lewis: Reviewer