The Racketeer by John Grisham

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The Racketeer by John Grisham

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: It's easy to accept that Grisham will write a good legal thriller but there's real skill in this story - and an ending that caught me completely by surprise. Recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 352 Date: November 2012
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1444729740

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Malcolm Bannister is forty-three years old and a lawyer. He's also in prison for a crime he didn't know he was committing and in which he had no criminal intent. Halfway through a ten-year stretch, he's the only black man in the prison serving time for white-collar crime: that's what happens when you're just a bit naive and what looks like a genuine real estate deal turns out to be part of a massive money-laundering operation. The prison he's in is relatively relaxed and he's the librarian, but he's lost his job, his wife's divorced him and he wonders if he'll ever see his young son again. Other than that, life's pretty much of a muchness.

Then a Federal Judge - The Honourable Raymond Fawcett - is murdered, in a lakeside cabin which he used at weekends. His young secretary was murdered too and a safe in the basement was emptied out. There were no signs of a forced entry and no clues, but Mal Bannister reckoned that he knew who had murdered the judge and why. What's more, he was determined that this is going to be his immediate way out of prison, with a new identity, witness protection and a sizeable chunk of reward money.

John Grisham knows his trade. He knows the legal profession inside out and some of the darker bits which never see the light of day. He's well into the teens with his legal thrillers and whilst there's a certain pattern to many of them it's greatly to his credit that they never become formulaic. Many authors would make a book out of the little bit I've told you about - but Grisham uses this as his starting point and builds a story which really has you wondering where you're going. He has, too, a real talent for painting a character you can get behind and empathise with.

The pace dropped a little in the middle of the book but it's still going to be a one I'll pick up again simply because I really do want to work out how he did it - and did it so effectively! I'd like to thank the publishers for dropping a copy into the Bookbag.

We've also enjoyed The Appeal and The Broker (although to a lesser extent). If this type of book then you might like to try True Blue by David Baldacci or Mercy by David Kessler. You might enjoy Consequence: A Thriller by Eli Yance but we had our reservations.

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