5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
And I am not referring to the plot. Kudos to Mr. Grisham for creating a unique style within the mystery genre but this effort was on auto-pilot. One only has to read the author's note at the end which is an admission of sorts. The least enjoyable aspect was the main character. In his past novels the Grisham formula includes a main character that you empathize with and root for. In The Racketeer, I was actually hoping that the plot would see Malcolm Bannister get duped. I expect the author will return to form and may even innovate again.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 10, 2012
Have read all the Grisham's thus far, and absolutely loved this book. This book kept me guessing throughout and reminds me of the writing style of his earlier novels (ie: Time To Kill, Runaway Jury and The Chamber). Would definately recommend this to anyone who likes a good read that will keep you interested and guessing!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
John Grisham's latest legal thriller is fast-paced, engaging, and slaps the unwary reader with a few surprises. We've come to expect this. Among Grisham's other works, this story most resembles The Partner. That's at the general level of tone and feel. The plot twists of The Partner won't give anything away about this book. Don't bother checking.
Malcolm Bannister is an ex-attorney and a current involuntary resident of a minimum security prison camp just outside of Frostburg, Maryland. Halfway through a ten-year sentence, Malcolm has made his peace with his divorce and with the fact that his son's letters have stopped coming. He works in the prison library, gives legal advice to other inmates, and has stopped telling people that he was innocent of the money-laundering charges that put him inside. Malcolm is a model prisoner.
One day he makes an appointment with the warden and claims he can solve the brutal murder of a Federal judge. The warden, the FBI, and the Federal prosecutors are slow to believe yet another prisoner looking for a deal. But his information about the killer checks out. The murderer is identified, apprehended, and indicted. Malcolm is released, collects a substantial reward, and begins a new life in the Federal Witness Protection Program. Where it gradually becomes clear that Malcom--now Max--has his own agenda.
Grisham spins a good yarn, showing the same contempt for Federal agents and other attorneys that figures so prominently in The Firm. It isn't at all clear that the good guys will win or even who the good guys are. Or that there are any. But it is worth the time to watch the mysteries reveal themselves. This book is highly recommended for both Grisham fans and first-timers.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 22, 2013
Having been disappointed with some of Grisham's recent novels, I approached this read with some trepidation. It seemed to start a bit slow with what appeared to me to be too much back story. However, as the plot developed my enjoyment of the story increased. In this tale, Grisham has woven an intricate tale full of twists and turns.
Basically, a black lawyer, Malcolm Bannister, is caught up unfairly in a large sweep of criminals and sent to a prison camp for ten years. While there his wife divorces him, his disappointed father visits monthly, and he uses his legal skills to help prisoners.
Then the judge who sentenced him is killed along with his secretary and his safe is emptied. What was in the safe? Who killed them? Malcolm seems to know and he uses this knowledge to come up with a scheme to get out of jail. His unbelievable scheme entertains us even as we cheer him for the way he cons the FBI. Or does he con them?
Like many of Grisham's books, this too is a terrible indictment on the American justice system, the prison system, the FBI, and corruption in general.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
John Grisham's last book - The Litigators - was one of my favourites by this award winning author. I was pretty excited to read his latest - The Racketeer.
Racketeer: "A person who commits crimes such as extortion, loansharking, bribery, and obstruction of justice in furtherance of illegal business activities."
Malcolm Bannister is a former attorney, currently serving time in the Frostburg, Maryland prison camp for money laundering. Trouble is, he swears he's innocent - he just picked the wrong client. License gone, wife gone, everything he had - gone. Five years into his sentence, he may have found a way out. He knows who killed Federal Judge Raymond Fawcett, found dead in his cabin retreat beside an empty safe. Can he bargain the killer's name for his freedom? And what about what was taken from the safe? There's a lot of people after that knowledge...
I love 'heist' and 'sting' type movies such as Ocean's Eleven. Grisham weaves his own take on the heist scenario with The Racketeer. And it's a great piece of storytelling. This is still a 'legal' thriller to a degree, but I think Grisham just had a lot of fun with this one. It's not a serious book, but an entertaining tale.
As he says in the author notes at the end: " The Racketeer is indeed a work of fiction. Accuracy was not deemed crucial. Long paragraphs of fiction were used to avoid looking up facts."
I chose to listen to this book. J.D. Jackson was the reader and his voice was perfectly suited to the main character. Macolm changes his speech patterns at one point and I did find the slower pace a bit annoying. I just wanted the story to move along.
The only reason I'm giving this a four instead of a five is that there was just something about Malcolm I didn't like. He's the one we should be rooting for, but I found him to be pompous and cocky. I never did feel sorry for him. Did he get what he deserved? In his eyes, yes. In mine - not really. I almost felt sorry for the 'bad guy'. I don't know that it was Malcolm's place to mete out judgment. In the end he's no better and his protestations of innocence at the beginning of the book are moot.
Still, I quite enjoyed it. Not his best, but entertaining nonetheless.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on November 5, 2012
Definitely not one of Grisham's best. He decides, in this book, that he is a black man. I'm not sure what effect he was going for, but it doesn't work because not actually being black himself, he can't write as if he were. He mentions several times in the book that he is feeling like he stands out, but it's neither relevant nor believable. He says in the author's note at the end of the book that he did no research and that is obvious as you read the book. Simply put, the story is not believable at all. It involves a "pile" of little gold bars which he is able to carry around and use as if it were currency. Still, it is written by Grisham and is therefore worth a read if only for his writing.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Grisham is writing as a black man, though I kept forgetting that he was supposedly black until he mentioned it again. Grisham is not really a suspense writer - his strength is writing books that go down smooth and easy. This one does that and tries to be a thriller as well with big twists and everything. The initial premise is thoroughly unbelievable and the twist that comes later even more so, primarily because the characters are not established with enough depth for us to believe in in much of anything they do. In spite of this, I don't really regret reading this. Love it or hate it, that's the power of Grisham.
on November 18, 2012
I found this book a better book actually than his previous novels, which it should be with a more complex
storyline, a deeper view of what ails society, not just the locales described, and rather than taking stories in the news topical at law offices like Perry mason type shows or police shows on tv, and develop a storyline there and expound on the inner court system, which as a lawyer is where his experience and learning is..he leaves the courtroom for the most part and enters the jail house federal policing and a trip to Jamaica at book's end. It's different than what you usually get from him, and the usual ideas are there, the problem with the system is that the innocent's rights are being compromised and the guilty ...well..and that seems to be his preoccupation..the sins that mark the planet and here we have murdered judge a person in jail and should he be there, and federal policing..and that's the start of the book..and then it delves into a trip to Jamaica..and the book goes into a different direction and ahunt for gold, and even some tal about incarceration there..which is a problem in itself. As a writer who spins good tales, and here ther arent any court room scenes and it reads almost like an adventure story with the pursuit of a criminal..and the capture of a wronged man..and how about taking the money and running to the islands..I found it held my attention and developed in a different direction than you would think!
"For the land is filled with crimes of blood,
And the city is full of violence.
Therefore I will bring the worst of the Gentiles,
And they will possess their houses;
I will cause the pomp of the strong to cease,
And their holy places shall be defiled." -- Ezekiel 7:23-24 (NKJV)
One of the ways that freedom has been abridged is by wide-ranging laws that can cause anyone who had any dealings with a criminal to be drawn into a racketeering charge. That's just what happened to Malcolm Bannister, who handled the wrong real estate transactions ... helping to launder dirty money in the process. Guilt by association led to time in the penitentiary. Like all cons, he had a lot of time on his hands ... time that went into finding ways to get out. When a federal judge is murdered, the time is ripe for a "get of out jail free" card to anyone who could finger the murderer. With the FBI chasing its tail, Bannister has a plan.
No one can manipulate the legal system better than a lawyer. John Grisham returns to his roots as a legal novelist in describing how laws can be broken with the help of the law.
The story is an intriguing plot, the ultimate in the underdog trying to overcome lots of impossible limitations. Unfortunately, to make the story work the story bogs down in more details than even many third year law students would want to think about. I found my interest fading rapidly in the second half. But I had to take my hat off to anyone who would work so hard to come up with such an on-the-surface implausible story ... that just might lead to the results described here.
While this won't be your favorite book in the Grisham library, I think you'll be glad you read it.
It's good to see Grisham sticking to the knitting. Books like Playing for Pizza and the Theodore Boone books are really not in the same league. However, The Racketeer is a quasi legal tale and is in typical Grisham style and is very readable.
If I had a criticism it is that the story itself could do with a few more layers. Malcolm Bannister is an interesting character and is very clever and calculating as he runs rings around the authorities in his quest to get the result he wants. However, he seems to have it all in hand throughout and I think this tale would have been better if he had had just a little more to challenge his undoubted intellect.
However, it's a good solid tale which most readers will enjoy without, perhaps, being up there with the very best of this author's work.