The Racketeer

My friend Zack lent me the book shortly after I got out of stir. It’s the latest from John Grisham, and it’s about a lawyer doing time for a crime he did not commit (imagine that).

Image from Amazon

Malcolm was a small town attorney who did some legal work for an anonymous client and was subsequently caught up in the net when his client was accused of racketeering. He is halfway through a 10-year sentence in a minimum security (no walls, no bars), when he hits upon an opportunity to get out with a clear record. A federal judge has been murdered, and Bannister knows who did it. He plans to exchange this information for his freedom.

If you read much Grisham you know the plot is not going to be as simple as that. There are mechanizations with the federal attorney’s office, the FBI, the federal judiciary and the witness protection program. There are also plots and schemes, some detective work and masterful evasions. And in the end there is money. A lot of money. Of course there’s sex.

Read this book,  and you will be reminded of one or more of Grisham’s other plots. In The Firm Mitchell McDeere is a star law school graduate who takes a job with a law firm only to discover it’s a front for gangsters. That plot involves similar mechanizations as McDeere extricates himself and his wife from the clutches of the mob. The Client also involves a lawyer working to protect a child client and his family from dangerous gangsters despite interference from the law. Similarly The Pelican Brief has a young lawyer running from dangerous criminals while striving all the while to keep just beyond the reach of the law. These have been made into movies, and they are all worth a look, especially The Pelican Brief, which features Julia Roberts, who has the ability to make a film on the basis of charm and looks alone. A Few Good Men is another great Grisham tale, but the film based on the book does not draw out the elaborate plot workings found in the other titles.

All of these Grisham plots have been turned into home run films, except his most recent. Please look for it within the next few years. Because of some of its plot peculiarities I will do a subsequent review of The Pelican Brief. Please return to this blog from time to time and search for the review.

Unless you are totally whacked you have noticed a common theme in all of these Grisham plots. They all involve lawyers, and the plots always display a large body of legalese. Go to the back of the room if you have not already guessed that Grisham is a lawyer. You might also think he has spent a lot of time in the Caribbean, as many of his plots involve numerous trips to the islands and often involve the off-shore banking havens that find a home there. Don’t jump too fast, though. The afterward to The Racketeer contains a disclaimer that the writer does very little outside research for his plots. Geographical names and places are likely to be contrived and the names of real people are seldom used. An exception is in The Racketeer, where the author mentions federal judges who have been murdered, including one here in San Antonio over 30 years ago. That’s a little bit of fact that the author can use to string his plot upon.

One thought on “The Racketeer

  1. Pingback: Bad Movie of the Week | Skeptical Analysis

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