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I have been disappointed by the last few Grisham books. However, the reviews that stated that "Grisham was back" convinced me to give him another try. Well, I'm done with him -- for good this time.
The "author's note" at the end of the book says that "this was a work of fiction, more so than in other cases" because he fully admits that NO research went into the writing of this novel. Well, Mr. Grisham, it shows. The plot is totally unbelievable. I don't mind that -- as long as the implausibility doesn't make the story stupid, which happens here. The story is, indeed, stupid.
The main character -- a lawyer who was unjustly imprisoned (for circumstances under which NO ONE would have EVER been imprisoned) manages to get himself set free by convincing the FBI that he knows who killed a federal judge. How does he know this? Well, while the murderer was in prison he had confided in the main character that he INTENDED to kill the judge as soon as he got out. And the FBI goes along. Er...yeah.
That, by the way, is the entire first half of the book. Nothing else happens. If you read the publisher's review, you might as well skip to the second half of the download. There, the story gets even more ridiculous. Diverting into what appears to be another (equally stupid) story. A guy with 8 million dollars stashed somewhere chooses to follow our main character on a ridiculous trip merely because he is lured by the promise of South Beach and girls. Er, I think that with $8 million dollars he could have gone to South Beach on his own...
The two stories do merge in the end, but who cares? Mr. Grisham extends what could have been a short story into a very BORING novel, full of characters who are two-dimensional and unlikeable. Even the main character seems to be a jerk who drinks copiously and leaves behind his kid, father, and family after two sentences of mild regret.
The guy who wrote The Firm and some of the other early works is no more. That's too bad. But I wasted a credit and several hours. My advice: pass on this one. It will probably be an OK movie if the right director takes it on -- and hires a decent screenwriter.
78 of 89 people found this review helpful
I was real ticked off at John Grisham after "The Broker". That was one bad novel, and I thought he was just trying to cash in on his name. With "The Racketeer" I'm happy to say that the real John Grisham is still alive and kicking.
The book is not exactly a legal thriller, although there is quite a lot of legal res gestae. It's more man-against-the-system, and the outcome is very satisfying. The protagonist, Mal Bannister (aka Max Baldwin) comes off as a very real and believable character. Grisham gives him plenty of depth and charisma, and you'll soon find yourself rooting for him.
The plot has plenty of twists. As the book unfolds explanations of things previously described come out in the narrative, like pulling the strings of a package to wrap it up nice and tight. You may be able to figure out a good bit of what's really going on, but there will be enough left to keep you turning pages (so to speak).
I though J.D. Jackson did a great job. As for his pacing, the narrative made clear that he had made an attempt to change his identity, and part of that change involved speaking more deeply and more slowly.
There were a few stretches required of my imagination. Like, if some hardened criminals wind up with a whole lot of money, are they really going to turn into good guys? And, can an ex-con own a bar? You'd think that would place him in contact with other convicted felons from time to time, which sounds risky to me.
On the whole this was a very good book, and well worth your time.
64 of 74 people found this review helpful