Cane and Abe by James Grippando (Harper, Jan. 20th, 2015)-Miami State Prosecutor Abe Beckham is a newlywed, but he’s still mourning the death of his previous wife, Samantha. His new wife, Angelina, is an old flame, and although they have history, she struggles with the vestiges of Samantha that still remain, most notably her bipolar adult brother JT, who Abe still supports. When Abe becomes involved in the investigation of a serial killer dubbed the “Cutter”, it hits close to home. The killer seems to be targeting white women that were dating African American men. However, when a prominent African American lawyer is found murdered in a similar way, and it’s someone that Abe knew, he’s horrified. Samantha was African American, and Gabe is white, and the sugar cane fields where the bodies have been dumped is part of Samantha’s history. Her father worked those fields for the Cortina company in the 40s, enduring horrible, cruel conditions, but what, if anything, does Cortina have to do with the murders? As events spiral out of control, Angelina herself goes missing, and Abe becomes a suspect. With nothing to lose, Abe sets out to find the truth, no matter the cost.
This is actually my first book by James Grippando, and it won’t be the last. It’s told alternately in Abe’s voice and he’s a likeable, sympathetic protagonist, even when Grippando begins to weave plenty of doubt into the narrative. I rooted for Abe, and of course wanted him to be innocent, but an FBI agent with something to prove makes Abe’s life miserable, and of course Angelina’s disappearance doesn’t help matters. This is a crackling, fast paced read, and Gone Girl fans will even find much to like. So what if the ending is a bit hurried-I had great fun getting there and the wealth of information about Big Sugar and the brutal conditions that workers endured until the mid 20th century, when machines finally took over, is fascinating. Cane and Abe is a diverting, fun thriller.