I have long been a fan of James Grippando. He’s a Florida lawyer and was admitted to the Bar about 9 months before I was. When his first book came out, The Pardon, I grabbed it because it was based in Florida and was written by a Florida lawyer. He’s an awesome story-teller and I was hooked with that first book. I’ve read them all and he has always, always met my reader expectations.
Until now. 22 books in. I never, ever would’ve believed I’d be so upset over a book by an author I adore. But here it is, I am there. Hate, hate the book I just read. It’s called Cane and Abe. It starts out great and in the style I am accustomed to with Mr. Grippando’s signature élan. For a while, it rocks on in a satisfactory way.
Eventually, less than half-way through, it goes off the rails. Utterly. Now, I know this man, who’s books are in hardback and sell outrageously well, has heard of the mythic story structure of The Hero’s Journey. I also am sure he’s heard that the hero should grow over the course of the book- I know he has because I’ve read his work for years and this happens. Until now.
The main character in this book basically does the Hero’s Journey in reverse. He starts out strong, likable and no-nonsense. During the course of the book, he’s treated like crap by an FBI agent (Who has been in another of Mr. Grippando’s books- and I liked the character in that book). This FBI agent starts out as the character she was in the long-ago book she was in but as the story progresses, she oversteps her bounds, tries to entrap the main character, and becomes something of a rogue. I hated her by the second half of the book and kept waiting for her to get her comeuppance.
Not only did we not get to see her get what was coming to her, Mr. Grippando drops clues in the book that he never goes back to address and leaves us hanging there. By close to the end of the book, the main character is half the man he was at the beginning. He gives in to the pressure put on him by the FBI witch and even lets them conduct a strip-search. The man at the beginning of the book would have NEVER stood for that.
The ending was horrible. The main character ends up living in the worst situation he could be in. The hero’s journey is over and the man is a shell of who he used to be and this is not cool. NOT COOL AT ALL.
My reader expectation from this author is for the hero to come out on top. Didn’t happen. I’m angry. I feel abused as a reader.
Reading the author note at the end of the book gave me some insight. It seems this book is a revamped version of the first book the man ever wrote. That didn’t sell. I see why it didn’t sell- It isn’t a satisfying read. BUT since he’s now got this massive following, did he insist on having it in his newest contract? Was this published merely because the author wanted it to be?
I feel used, manipulated and unhappy.