Friday, November 9, 2012

A Review of "The Racketeer" [89]

The Racketeer by John Grisham
Doubleday, ISBN 978-0385535144
October 23, 2012, 352 pages

"I am a lawyer, and I am in prison. It's a long story"
Malcolm Bannister has lost it all.
He was once a small town lawyer, happily married with a young son. Now his is divorced, disbarred and a resident at the Federal Prison Camp near Frostburg, Maryland for a 10 years sentence, 5 of them still to come.

What did he do? Well, he says that he was only guilty of taking on the wrong client and being a bit naive as to what was going on. But when the client came under federal investigation for some very bad deeds, the feds cast a very wide net and poor Malcolm was caught up in it, charge with money laundering, along with the guilty. Five years later, the appeals are over, there is nothing left to do, except the rest of his time.

Until a federal judge and his girlfriend are tortured and killed in a secluded lakeside cabin, leaving two bodies and an empty safe and not one other clue. The FBI is investigating but every lead quickly goes cold and they are desperate for a break in the case. And then Malcolm steps forward.

He claims to know who killed the judge and what the motive was. And he will be happy to tell the feds in return for them invoking Rule 35, a federal rule that allow a prisoner's sense to be reduced if they provide “substantial assistance in investigating or prosecuting another person.” And Malcolm is the man who know the truth and in return he wants his conviction thrown out, he wants out of jail and he wants a new start in the Federal Witness Protection Program.
And maybe he wants a tiny bit of revenge against the system as well.

That would be all well and interesting, but folks, that is just the first step. Very shortly, after Malcolm's release and the start of his new life, it become apparent that something much bigger and much more complicated is going on, with Malcolm in the lead. And I dare say, until it starts to unroll, you will not have a clue what it is!
I saw one description of this book as wicked clever...and that describes it perfectly.

John Grisham and I go way back. I read and enjoyed his first few books, but then something happened.
I saw an interview with Mr. Grisham back then where he told that he has signed a contact to write X-number of legal thrillers and although he was bored with the genre, he had to write them to fulfill his contract. He was bored...I, the reader, was bored. And I stopped reading his books. Then, when in Italy, I saw a very positive review of The Racketeer..and then another and another. Perhaps time to give Mr. Grisham another chance and this book did not disappoint.

 I will warn you that at times, things will happen, things will be said, people will do things, that you don't understand. Please, don't worry, it will all become clear soon enough. You just need to see the BIG picture and that will be reveled to the reader, bit by bit, until it all makes sense. Clever, entertaining sense.

Now my sister-in-law, who read the book before I did, had an issues with the ending. Thought it needed a bit more...MORE. I can see her point, although it would not have occurred to me really if she had not said so. Still, while one more big twist, one more clever surprise would have been fun, I was content with the ending as it was, neat and tidy.

The Racketeer is a fun, clever romp of a book that I am happy to recommend.And I am very happy to see that Mr. Grisham is back on top of his game!


  1. This looks good! Thanks for the review.

  2. I can't wait to listen to this one when I get it from the library. Glad to be able to read your thoughts on it.

  3. Hmmm... Well you never steer me wrong, so I'll add it to the list. Not normally a fan of Grisham but, hey, I'm a pretzel. I can bend. :)

  4. Hi there, the November edition of Books You Loved is now live. Here is the link Books You Loved November Edition Please do pop by and link in a post about a book you loved. Maybe this one? Cheers

  5. My experience with Grisham was exactly like yours...I just got tired. My favorites are A Time to Kill and The Painted House...the rest, meh. My husband, however, has read them all though. I think he's secretly hoping things will get better. What's funny is when you ask him what one of the middle books is about...he can't even remember which character did what in which book :/ If you put your stamp on this one, I'll give it a shot. Keeping my fingers crossed :)

  6. I was hoping this one would be good. His last one we read, The Litigators was great. It had been a long time between Grishams as he had gotten mediocre but was back on track with The Litigators. Definitely putting this one on the list.

  7. Good to hear!! When he started out, he was fabulous -- fulfilling and thrilling legal thrillers that satisfied. And then it went downhill … for reasons I now understand. I guess he got interested again. I was ready to pass this by but now I won't. Thanks!


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