I’ve read a lot of John Grisham novels. In fact, I think I’ve read them all. Some are whimsical, some are deadly serious, some are somewhat in between. The Racketeer (352 fast turning pages/!3 bucks on Kindle) is one of the best, and it is somewhat reminiscent of a classic Redford and Newman movie— the Sting. The premise, at first seems simple enough, lawyer in jail for crime he did not commit devises a scheme to get out Scot free. But in fact this story has more twists and turns than Route ! down the East Coast. I mean serious twists and turns. Just when you think you’ve figured out how the story will turn out, or who the real villain is, something else happens. And of course all is not revealed until the end of the tale.
Here is the summary or tease from the publisher (Doubleday)….
Who is the Racketeer? And what does he have to do with the judge’s untimely demise? His name, for the moment, is Malcolm Bannister. Job status? Former attorney. Current residence? The Federal Prison Camp near Frostburg, Maryland.
On paper, Malcolm’s situation isn’t looking too good these days, but he’s got an ace up his sleeve. He knows who killed Judge Fawcett, and he knows why. The judge’s body was found in his remote lakeside cabin. There was no forced entry, no struggle, just two dead bodies: Judge Fawcett and his young secretary. And one large, state-of-the-art, extremely secure safe, opened and emptied.
What was in the safe? 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 the Racketeer 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.
This novel is so clever, you don’t know whether to applaud or be appalled by the protagonist even after you have read most of the novel. One thing for sure, the Federal Authorities take their lumps and look pretty clueless at numerous points in this page turner. One of the things that is most breath-taking about the novel is the risks Malcolm Bannister (and Quinn Rucker too) is willing to take to accomplish his escape into a new and better life. Yes you have to suspend your disbelief to some degree, but that is half the fun. As always Grisham’s novels are easy to read, full of plot lines, and seldom tedious or dull. This one makes a perfect Christmas gift for someone who likes legal fiction or thrillers.