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A Death in Live Oak

(Jack Swyteck #14)

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  2,481 ratings  ·  290 reviews
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 Va
ebook, 496 pages
Published February 6th 2018 by Harper
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Average rating 4.17  · 
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 ·  2,481 ratings  ·  290 reviews

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Diane S ☔
Feb 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018-read
It has been a while since I have read a legal thriller, so was excited to see a new book featuring attorney Jack Swytek. Have read and enjoyed reading this series in the past, following Jack in his professional and personal life. When I left him before, he had decided not to continue with the Innocence project, once again branching out on his own. Now married to an FBI agent, and they are parents to a three year old daughter. He is hired in this one to defend the President of a white fraternity, ...more
Carole (Carole's Random Life)
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

This really was a fantastic book. I have been a fan of James Grippando for a long time so I was really eager to get my hands on this newest installment in his long running Jack Swyteck series. This is the fourteenth book in the series but each book in the series works well as a stand alone novel. I expect good things from both this author and this series and that is exactly what I got with this book. I really had a great time reading
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
James Grippando is one of my favourite go to authors. I have read all his books and enjoyed them all and this one was no exception. Even though this is the 14th book in the Jack Swyteck series, you do not have to have read the previous books to read, follow and enjoy this story. The topic is not an enjoyable one. It deals with racial tensions, issues of race on college campuses as well as historical lynching. This was a good story. It deals with the suspected lynching of Jamal Cousin, the presid ...more
Feb 25, 2018 rated it liked it
There are only a few authors who every book I’ve read by them I’ve loved. Michael Connelly is one of my favorites. But there was a book of his that left me flat. I’m a big fan of Tess Gerritsen. Yet, there was one of her novels I couldn’t get into. James Grippando is one of those few who I’ve loved EVERY BOOK he’s written. I’m sure I’ve rated each one of them 5 stars.

When I started ‘A Death in Live Oak’ I expected another surefire hit.

For some reason—and based on other positive reviews maybe i
Kelly Hager
Feb 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is such an insanely good book. Obviously going in, I had some preconceived ideas of what happened to Jamal and who was responsible. (I didn't believe it was Mark, but I definitely thought someone from the frat was responsible, because frats.) I'm obviously not sharing whether or not I was right, but enough happened to show me how wrong I can be. (I loved the book anyway.)

The author's note shares that the case from the past is true. I know about lynchings and I knew what "strange fruit" mean
Feb 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Grippando never disappoints. Jack Swyteck is one of my favorite fictional characters.
Mary Gramlich
Jan 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What effort do we make every day to not repeat the history of hate?

Mark Towson is an active college student and believes in respectability of the Greek life he has taken over on the campus of the University of Florida. He knows the other Presidents of the fraternities socially but not to the extent that he would be accused of murdering one. However right now that is what Mark is being chased down for along with two other fraternity brothers by an ambitious district attorney a family’s high profi
Mar 18, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Grippando usually includes a racial element to his stories. However, this time taking advantage of current events (e.g. Black Lives Matter, alleged police brutality) he has gone overboard linking past years when racism was more pervasive to these same current events. It's as if we haven't progressed at all. Naturally, the southern white man was and still is a villain yearning for those wonderful days when slavery was legal. I was extremely disappointed, and pretty much offended by Grippando's de ...more
Scottsdale Public Library
Deftly woven tale of racism, bigotry, small towns and the exploitation of the biases that bind us. Do these biases pass like genes from one generation to another, and if so, do the efforts to break free of prejudice also pass like genes in small communities, but recessive ones, doomed to linger on the margins? These questions are posed as a white frat president is accused of lynching another student president, the victim was head of an African-American fraternity. The college and the community w ...more
Karen Wegman
Feb 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
I have read all of the Jack Swyteck novels and have enjoyed them. The latest was enjoyable BUT I was definitely turned off by the need to include Andie, the wife and FBI agent. The main story was great and we really did not need Andie in the story at all. I am really tired of the little lady fighting off the huge bad guy and winning. Really?? It wasn't necessary and added absolutely nothing to the story. Don't get me wrong, I like the Andie character but did not feel right this time. The ending ...more
Aug 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
I have read several of this author’s series about a Florida attorney, Jack Sweytek? The books are well written with very good witty banter. I love witty banter. The books have interesting and detailed plots and the character evolve and change. This series is good if you like a series of stories that make you smile and keep your interest. “The Hardy Boys” for semi-adults.
Feb 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent legal thriller. Plot covers racism. I need more like this.
John Olson
Jun 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent book. Based on true events from 1940’s to modern day north Florida and all the racial tensions. James Grippando doesn’t write a lot of books but they’re well done.
Nancy Ellis
Feb 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was so good, I could not put it down and finished it in one day! It's the 14th in the Jack Swyteck series, but the first of the author's books for me, and I'm thrilled to think of all the great books I have to read to catch up. The setting is Florida, the swamps of the Suwannee River, where the body of the president of the leading black fraternity at the university is found lynched. Evidence points to the president of the leading white fraternity and his two friends. Swyteck is called in to ...more
Apr 21, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

the case: a lynching
the relevant topic: racism

this story is Jack busy w/the legal aspects & the courtroom.

the negative is that there were alot of characaters and too much going on. I wasn't as rapt w/attention as i have been w/previous ones.

but it had the usual twists along the way and the high suspense in the last 1/3 of the book.

also, i appreciate the "authors note" at the end which explained the true story behind this one. as well as why one character went from the spelling of Riley
Donna Mcnab
Apr 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
This wasn't an easy book to read. The lynching of young black men and the racism involved was very difficult to deal with. The offshoot of that was the quick belief that an innocent young white man was guilty of lynching an up and coming young black college student without waiting for any proof. So many people ready to take advantage of the situation to spread hate is unsettling, particularly in view of the present climate in the world. ...more
Barbara Schultz
3.7 It has been a while since I read a Jack Swytecki .
This story is very disturbing ~ I don’t enjoy reading “hate crimes” and I totally hate f-bombs!!!
I did hang in there as story had me! Although I hated the language the novel wasn’t a disappointment! I like good courtroom drama, and I like Jack, Andie, and Riley. Plus Jonathan Davis did a GREAT job performing these characters.

Nan Williams
May 01, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: quit
I've really enjoyed Grippando's novels in the past, especially those featuring J. Swyteck, but not this one. He seemed to be focusing on incendiary issues rather than on the plot, itself. Of course, I can understand why - he was mirroring the sensationalism we have in our news today. But when I sit down to enjoy a novel for pleasure, I don't want to feel bombarded by the fake news so prevalent today. If I wanted to read the National Enquirer, that's what I'd read.

This was quite a disappointment.
There's a lot going on in Miami lawyer Jack Swyteck’s life in this 14th series title. There's his current case involving the lynching of a black fraternity man at a Florida university, and it has tempers running high; his FBI wife Andie's case is also troubling, since she's undercover investigating a case involving white supremacists; and then there's the historical story line that retells a Jim Crow-era murder that was never solved--and it's on the same stretch of river as the current lynching. ...more
Aug 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Excellent read
Mar 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Never disappoints me !!! I have been reading this author for a long long time.
May 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
Not his best effort, it seemed forced or contrived.
Mel Raschke
Sep 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent read. Shows how a horrible event can effect a town 100 years later.
Apr 29, 2018 rated it liked it
This story was okay; it was about racial issues in Florida from past to present & centers around a university student who is accused of lynching. Andie is also involved in the case unbeknown to Jack as she is uncover and their paths do not meet.

Sep 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
A heart-thumper? You bet. Tackling racism head-on? Yes, but also with a bit of a pulling back, in my opinion. The ending was, well, disappointing.
Jan 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars.

The fourteenth installment in the Jack Swyteck series, A Death in Live Oak by James Grippando is a timely mystery about the apparent lynching of an African American student at a Gainesville University.

The shocking discovery of Jamal Cousin's corpse is eerily reminiscent of the rumored lynching of young teenager Willie James Howard 74 years earlier. One week prior to his death, Jamal, the president of the revered Alpha Fraternity, received racially charged, threatening texts from three
Apr 03, 2018 rated it liked it
Wow, a hat trick of distressing books. The newest Grippando left me with that squeamish feeling and saying in my head: "why are people like that? " Just when we think we have become more "enlightened", we (sadly) discover we are not. And whited sepulchers (Matthew 23:27) among us (seem to) throw the first stones.

While I'll not summarize this book (and too many do), I will say that it kept my attention and I read (listened) in only 2 days. There was an interesting albeit brief merging of Jack's
E.R. Yatscoff
Apr 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
Swyteck rides again with his usual clever handling of tough cases. You really got to love lawyer and procedural stuff as the action is miniscule. Grippando has done better. Not much action but characters are, as always, good. This was a library book.
Mar 26, 2018 rated it it was ok
There are books by the author I have really liked, but this one not so much. Or maybe I'm just too "think the best of people" but it started in the beginning when the cops tell the frat boys, that maybe they shouldn't be holding their party when a fellow student and Greek leader had been found lynched that day....because I can't picture the college where students would have to be told that. In so many ways these seemed like a book that should have been set back in the 70s, maybe? But liked the a ...more
Mar 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Entertaining And Topical But Not As Gripping As I Hoped It Would Be!

I won’t spend time summarizing the plot of Grippando’s 14th book in his Jack Swyteck series (and the first in this series that I’ve read), as this can be found in the Amazon book description provided above. Instead, my review will provide my opinions about A Death In Live Oak which will, hopefully, aid you in deciding if it is a book for you.

Overall, I liked all aspects of this book — such as its topical plot concept, characters
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The first thing you should know about bestselling author James Grippando is that he is no longer clueless—so says his wife, Tiffany, after “A James Grippando Novel” was a clue for #38 Across in the New York Times crossword puzzle. James is the winner of the Harper Lee Prize for legal fiction and a New York Times bestselling author of 28 novels of suspense, including the popular series featuring M ...more

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Jack Swyteck (1 - 10 of 17 books)
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