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4.1 out of 5 stars
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4.1 out of 5 stars
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on July 13, 2016
I give up. I found the beginning interesting, but then the whole book fell apart. This story is suppose to be taking place in the real world, dealing with horrific matters, but everyone in it lacks basic intelligence. Half-way through the book, I was bored. Now that I finally found out the purpose for the documentary, I don't even care. I would have liked to see the main character best the government that destroyed his life, but I stopped caring about this character the moment he left jail. There are maybe two hours left in the audiobook, but boredom has felt like torture for the past hour. I just can't take this book anymore.

I loved movies based on John Grisham's work. I thought books would be better. This is the third one I have read, and I'm giving up on this author. For the books that I was able to get through the best I can say is they were "meh".

Agatha Christie can make a tea party sound more intriguing and interesting, while Grisham makes running from the law and drug dealers sound boring.

...

Disappointed. This author is clearly not for me.

I borrowed the audiobook from the Toronto Public Library.
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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!
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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.
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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.
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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.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon February 23, 2013
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.
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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.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon November 10, 2012
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.
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on January 19, 2013
First Grisham book I have read in years - will be the last. Uninteresting characters, boring plot that is not nearly as clever as the author seems to think. Starts off promising, but by half-way through becomes a plodding, implausible mess. Long before the ending I could not have cared less how it turned out. By the time I did reach the end I was sorry I had wasted my time.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon October 2, 2013
The author admits in his notes that this new novel is a work of pure fiction more than usual and nothing said is based on actual events. With this in mind this unique and tightly drawn thriller features an African American as its main protagonist. “The Racketeer” is definitely a departure from Mr. Grisham normal legal novels. The story is more about reformation and revenge with insightful description of the legal and penal system.

Malcolm Bannister, a dubiously lawyer convicted of money laundering and serving a 10 years sentence in a federal prison. Malcolm continually proclaims his innocence and blames the FBI for his wrong incarceration. When Judge Raymond Fawcett is murdered along with his secretary he sees the ideal opportunity to use Rule 35 to have his sentence overturned. This scheme is the starting point for a long chase that keeps Mal’s trickery a few steps ahead of the game……what follow is a cleverly orchestrated series of twists and reversals.

The plotting is a complex scenario and every piece of the puzzle is held together with a strong narrative that never wavers. We have a satisfying and engrossing thriller with many enjoyable aspects: my preferred is how Mal’s masquerading as an independent documentary filmmaker was able to circumvent the FBI.

This is another page turner with excellent characterization delivered by an expert hand….
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