Im­mi­gra­tion fo­cus of lat­est Grip­pando thriller

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Books - By Oline Cogdill Sun Sen­tinel Cor­re­spon­dent Oline H. Cogdill can be reached at [email protected]

Pulling cur­rent events into a tense, ac­tion-filled plot is a hall­mark of the mys­tery genre. And that’s cer­tainly a spe­cialty of Coral Gables au­thor James Grip­pando.

In his 15th novel about Mi­ami at­tor­ney Jack Swyteck, Grip­pando weaves a plot about un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants, chil­dren sep­a­rated from their par­ents, women need­ing asy­lum af­ter be­ing sex­u­ally as­saulted and those who prey on the vul­ner­a­ble. While “The Girl in the Glass Box” is loaded with is­sues, Grip­pando knows how to cre­ate a sus­pense­ful plot in which ev­ery scene is be­liev­able.

Jack is pulled into the case of Ju­lia Ro­driguez, an un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grant from El Sal­vador whose boss at the cof­fee shop where she works re­ports her to ICE af­ter she re­fuses his ad­vances. Al­though Ju­lia is ar­rested, her 14-year-old daugh­ter Beatriz man­ages to es­cape and take refuge with Ju­lia’s sis­ter Ce­celia, who is in Mi­ami on a stu­dent visa.

Jack is up against bu­reau­cracy and im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies as he tries get Ju­lia free from de­ten­tion. But ICE isn’t the only prob­lem Ju­lia faces — her gang­mem­ber hus­band, Jorge, has fol­lowed her to Mi­ami and wants re­venge on her for leav­ing him. The longer Ju­lia is locked up, the fur­ther the in­tel­li­gent Beatriz sinks into de­pres­sion.

Grip­pando sculpts har­row­ing scenes show­ing the pow­er­less­ness of those in im­mi­gra­tion de­ten­tion. He un­flinch­ingly shows the re­al­ity of un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants’ fear, yet never goes over­board as he makes us care very much about each char­ac­ter. “The Girl in the Glass Box” marks the 25th an­niver­sary since Grip­pando be­gan writ­ing thrillers. “The Girl in the Glass Box” is a ter­rific way to mark this oc­ca­sion.

Meet the au­thor

James Grip­pando will be one of the guest au­thors dur­ing “Tell Your Story. It’s Your Write!” a free day of pan­els, work­shops and dis­cus­sions from 11 a.m. to

5:30 p.m. March 9 at the North Re­gional/BC Li­brary, 1100 Co­conut Creek Blvd., Co­conut Creek,

954-201-2601. For more in­for­ma­tion, call

954-201-2657.

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