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Review: The Racketeer by John Grisham

Posted by bethg on

The Racketeer coverOne of the reasons I have always enjoyed the legal thrillers of John Grisham is I believed, as a lawyer, he knew what he was talking about. With each new book I learned something new about the law, especially the need to retain the highest quality defense. In his latest book, however, I’m not sure what he’s getting at. The Racketeer, which is one who retains money illegally, perplexed me. What on earth is going on?

Malcolm Bannister is doing time in a Federal prison camp near Frostburg, MD As an attorney unfairly convicted of a white collar crime, Bannister is approached by inmates who want his expertise and legal advice in filing appeals. It is information he received from one of his fellow inmates that drives the story.

A federal judge has been murdered, and the FBI has no leads. Bannister, however, has inside information on the crime and cuts a deal with the FBI. Under rule 35 of the Federal rules of criminal procedure, an inmate may gain a pardon or reduced sentence by solving a crime. In this case, there is the Witness Protection Program, a new identity and a huge reward as soon as the Grand Jury hands down an indictment. But things are not as they seem.

Bannister is wilier than the reader assumes, and his double-crossing defies understanding and any sympathy. The linear movement of the story ceases, and soon the reader has to contend with a huge ruse with a major character never seen or alluded to before.

Eventually, the two plots come together to make some sense, but by this time I’ve checked out. There are too many banks ,too many visits to safety deposit boxes, too many trips to Jamaica and Antigua in a private jet and too much exploitation of the law for me.

I can understand the use of clues, schemes, conspiracies, drug money greed and corruption, but when the author in the Author’s Note admits to laziness, lack of research and all those things that bring credence to his work, I feel duped. Hasn’t he heard about the 5th Amendment? Is there such a thing as rule 35? I’m too lazy to look it up.

This might be a good read when you’re heading to Antigua in your private jet to move illegally gained funds.

I give The Racketeer 3 hammocks and a pina colada.

Happy reading from Beverly!

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