Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Racketeer by James Grisham

In the history of this country, only four active federal judges have been murdered.  Judge Raymond Fawcett has just become number five.  Malcolm Bannister, former attorney, is currently in the Federal Prison Camp near Frostburg, Maryland, but he’s got an ace up his sleeve.  He knows who killed Judge Fawcett and he knows why.  The FBI would love to know and Malcolm Bannister would love to tell them, but everything has a price —especially information as explosive as the sequence of events that led to Judge Fawcett’s death.  And Malcolm wasn’t born yesterday.  Nothing is as it seems and everything’s fair game in this wickedly clever new novel from John Grisham, the undisputed master of the legal thriller. (condensed from publisher's blurb)

A Grisham legal thriller is never a bad thing - but this one rates a spot among my "Best of 2012".  The plot twists and turns till the end.  Even though we could see parts of the solution coming, there were still surprises that made us slap palm to forehead.  

Dave and I read this one on our recent road-trip to Hays.  Actually, since Dave does most of the driving and tends to fall asleep when he's not driving, I read - he listened.  Maybe reading nearly the entire thing out loud is what made me notice the "quirk" - not a problem, just an oddity.  Portions of the story are told in, what I believe is, first person-present tense -- "I walk into the room.  He looks at me." -- with the first person being Malcolm.  Other portions are told from the perspectives of various FBI agents, attorneys, etc.  But the entire thing has minimal dialog - especially the first-person sections.  It is more a general narrative -- "I explain that I will carry my own bags." -- rather than a word-for-word translation.  The writing axiom "Show, don't tell" is thrown out the window.  But it works.  Well, of course it does -- It's Grisham.  Only a master could pull it off and still keep you flipping pages.  

I'm betting this is a movie soon.  I kept picturing Tom Cruise and Holly Hunter, from The Firm, as we were reading.  Even among Grisham's own works, this one gets high marks and my highest recommendation.

1 comment:

  1. I've been hearing this is good and Grisham back to his old self, which is great to hear. I could use a good Grisham thriller!