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Publisher's Summary

From the 2017 winner of the Harper Lee Prize for legal fiction comes a powerful and timely story of race, politics, injustice, and murder as shocking and incendiary as today's headlines.

When the body of Jamal Cousin, president of the pre-eminent black fraternity at the Florida's flagship university, is discovered hogtied in the Stygian water swamps of the Suwanee River Valley, the death sets off a firestorm that threatens to rage out of control when a fellow student, Mark Towson, the president of a prominent white fraternity, is accused of the crime.

Contending with rising political tensions, racial unrest, and a sensational media, Townson's defense attorney, Jack Swyteck, knows that the stakes could not be higher - inside or outside the old Suwanee County Couthouse. The evidence against his client, which includes a threatening text message referencing "strange fruit" on the river, seems overwhelming. Then Jack gets a break that could turn the case. Jamal's gruesome murder bears disturbing similarities to another lynching that occurred back in the Jim Crow days of 1944. Are the chilling parallels purely coincidental? With a community in chaos and a young man's life in jeopardy, Jack will use every resource to find out.

As he navigates each twist and turn of the search, Jack becomes increasingly convinced that his client may himself be the victim of a criminal plan more sinister than the case presented by the state attorney. Risking his own reputation, this principled man who has devoted his life to the law plunges headfirst into the darkest recesses of the South's past, and its murky present, to uncover answers.

For Jack, it's about the truth. Traversing time, from the days of strict segregation to the present, he'll find it - no matter what the cost - and bring much-needed justice to Suwanee County.

©2018 James Grippando (P)2010 HarperCollins Publishers

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Outstanding Courtroom Drama

A horrible lynching occurs in a small Northern Florida town close to Gainesville. The president of a black fraternity is the victim. Racist text messages have been retrieved from the victim‘s phone. The source is the phone of a white student, who happens to be the president of a white fraternity. With no other evidence a rush to judgement occurs without due process.

If it sounds like a current affair, it is on purpose. Rather than condemn one party, the author clearly reveals the travesty of every side’s ignoring due process. Law enforcement, media, civil rights leaders, academia are all guilty of condemning a young man before they understand the truth.

Make no mistake, the novel uncovers racism at every level of life in the community. In fact it makes the mistakes of the black community understandable.

And there is the clever parallel of two excellent students, one black and one white, trapped by predators from to opposite camps. In the end, it is simply great writing and great entertainment.

Highly recommended!

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

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Much truth in fiction...

I spent my first 18 years living in Jacksonville, Fl. The story in this book does not surprise me at all, even after 38 years. When I went to school there was segregation, that wasn't working so well. Then they tried integration, that didn't work so well either. If you were black (I wasn't) or Jewish (I was) you had a problem in a city that was very racist and in the good old southern Bible Belt, anti Semitic. I moved north.
I could see this story taking place in Live Oaks, it's barely a speck on a map, very small town. It's the kind of place you drive through and didn't know you were there. Progressive thinking does not come easily in places like that. Unfortunately with out much outside influence, bigotry is generational.
Anyway, I really like some of Grippando's stand alone books and have looked at the Jack Swyteck books many times. The reviews are so mixed I always change my mind. After this book I will be getting the rest of the series.
Jonathan Davis does an excellent job narrating.
Outstanding book with a twisted ending, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
If you found this review helpful please indicate so.
Thank You.

18 of 19 people found this review helpful

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  • Wayne
  • Matthews, NC
  • 02-17-18

Very, very intense legal thriller!

A Death in Live Oak is likely the best legal thriller I have ever read or listened to. Yes, it is that good! The novel in Book 14 in James Grippando's Jack Swyteck series. The novel is set in the town of Live Oak FL, a real place and it draws on actual history of Live Oak. The publisher's summary tells more than is necessary in setting up the plot, so I will not add to it. As is usual for him Jonathan Davis narrates with aplomb.

As I approach my 75th birthday I know it will not occur during my life, but hopefully in the not to distant future all of humanity will come to realize that skin color is no more important than eye color; we are all one race, the human race.

A DEATH IN LIVE OAK HAS MY HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION!

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

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"Gripp(ando)ing"

Was listening to a different book by another great author, when I decided to sample this one.
Couldn't put it down. Ready for next one. Johnathan Davis great.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Michael
  • Dickinson, TX, United States
  • 03-28-18

One of the better Swyteck novels

While it got a little predictable near the end, it held my attention the entire time.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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One of his best...

One of his best... great writhing and great narration. great combination of writer and narrator.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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He Let The Tears Come.....

This is another well written, interest-holding Jack Swyteck story. The Publisher's Summary is a very good synopsis. I won't reiterate here but only to emphasize that it is a very timely, incendiary story of race, politics, injustice, and murder.

The story has many twists and turns with just a few flashbacks which add to the ease of following the storyline as the plot thickens. The great court room drama stirs the pot and adds more seasoning to the thickening plot. So far I've listen to six of the Swyteck series and this may be Gippando's best yet. I listened at every opportunity and couldn't wait to get back to the story and I didn't have to rewind once because of unclear words or to recall the story from where I shut it down at my last listen.

Jonathan Davis is one of my favorite narrators. He voice range provides very good individualized voices for most everybody in the novel. So far, I have not been disappointed by Gippando or Davis.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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excellent book, great twists until the end!

loved it! It was very suspenseful until the last sentence! Draws in your attention the entire time!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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MUST READ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AWESOME PERFORMANCE!!! KEPT ME WANTING TO HEAR MORE. I WOULD HIGHLY RECOMMEND LISTENING TO THIS BOOK

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Awesomely Written

Awesome book! I couldn’t stop listening. I enjoyed the taut story, the relevance to modern and past events, and the narration was superb. Well done! Now I’ve got to go back and listen to the 13 previous books.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful