Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Racketeer - John Grisham

Book Description

 October 23, 2012
Given the importance of what they do, and the controversies that often surround them, and the violent people they sometimes confront, it is remarkable that in the history of this country only four active federal judges have been murdered.

Judge Raymond Fawcett has just become number five.

Who is the Racketeer? And what does he have to do with the judge’s untimely demise? His name, for the moment, is Malcolm Bannister. Job status? Former attorney. Current residence? The Federal Prison Camp near Frostburg, Maryland.

On paper, Malcolm’s situation isn’t looking too good these days, but he’s got an ace up his sleeve. He knows who killed Judge Fawcett, and he knows why. The judge’s body was found in his remote lakeside cabin. There was no forced entry, no struggle, just two dead bodies: Judge Fawcett and his young secretary. And one large, state-of-the-art, extremely secure safe, opened and emptied.

What was in the safe? The FBI would love to know. And Malcolm Bannister would love to tell them. But everything has a price—especially information as explosive as the sequence of events that led to Judge Fawcett’s death. And the Racketeer wasn’t born yesterday . . .

Nothing is as it seems and everything’s fair game in this wickedly clever new novel from John Grisham, the undisputed master of the legal thriller.

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The Racketeer  was one of Amazon's mystery/thriller Best Books of the Month picks for October. A Q&A with the author:
Grisham3Describe The Racketeer in one sentence. 
A federal judge is murdered, and our hero in prison knows who did it, and why.
What's on your nightstand/bedside table/Kindle?
Ian McEwan’s latest novel, Sweet Tooth; a friend’s manuscript; and a Kindle Fire loaded with daily newspapers, magazines, and about three dozen books.
Top 3-5 favorite books of all time?
The Adventures of Tom SawyerA Confederacy of DuncesThe Grapes of WrathLittle Drummer Girl
Important book you never read?
There are so many. Atlas Shrugged, though I’ve been told for the past 30 years that it’s unreadable.
Book that made you want to become a writer?
To Kill a Mockingbird made me question race for the first time in my young, insulated, white life. It also inspired me to try and write something great.
Memorable author moment?
I received a note from Harper Lee, along with an autographed first edition of To Kill A Mockingbird.
What's your most prized/treasured possession?
A first edition of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, signed by the author.
Pen envy - book you wish you'd written?
Harry Potter – he’s the only dude I can’t outsell.
Author crush - who's your current author crush?
I’m 57 years old.  Crushes are for sophomores.
What's favorite method of procrastination? Temptation? Vice?
Don’t get me started. I can waste enormous amounts of time, and with no guilt whatsoever. Currently, I’m doing so on the golf course, playing a game that I took up only four years ago and is driving me nuts.
What do you collect?
First editions, primarily Faulkner, Hemingway, and Steinbeck.
Best piece of fan mail you ever got?
The letter began: “As the newly elected President of the Arkansas Bar Association, it is incumbent upon me to suggest various topics for your future novels……” I don’t think I finished reading the letter.
What's next for you?
I’m hard at work on Theo 4 -  “Theodore Boone, The Activist.”
>See all of John Grisham's books.
>Read a New York Times review of The Racketeer
(author photo by Bob Krasner)


Praise for THE LITIGATORS:'Grisham is brilliantly comic in a novel that is full of zest and brimming with memorable characters and rich storylines' -- The Sunday Times 'A superbly plotted legal thriller' -- Sunday Express Praise for John Grisham:'The best thriller writer alive' -- Ken Follett, Evening Standard 'Grisham is a superb, instinctive storyteller' -- The Times
John Grisham's work runs the gambit. Some serious, some funny, some nostalgic, and some sporty. But no matter what you know you're in for a good read. This one is no different. 'The Racketeer' falls somewhere between the seriousness of 'The Confession' and the fun of 'The Litigators'.

Our friend, Malcolm Bannister, is a lawyer who is in jail (I'll pause for your jokes here) for a crime he didn't commit. (Another pause). Fortunately for him the unfortunate demise of a Federal judge and his lady (hot, young, sexy, hot, you get the picture) friend is his key for early release. No clues, no witnesses, no leads, and no evidence. These frivolous minor details don't bother the FBI and they don't really bother Malcolm. He knows the truth and the Feds will pay dearly for it. Of course when dealing with the Feds and a jailed lawyer, "truth" is more of a mythological punchline than anything else.

While 'The Racketeer' is a fast read make yourself slow down, especially near the end. There are many pieces to this puzzle and you'll miss it if you read at the speed in which John writes. I mentioned earlier that our boy Malcolm goes through some pretty extraordinary lengths to get what he wants and that IS NOT an exaggeration. But then the question we must ask ourselves is; what is the price of freedom? What would you pay for or suffer through just for the chance to be free? You're about to find out. Oh... and what if that taste of freedom was seasoned with a bit of revenge?

Malcolm has people to pay back, but before he does that he must deal with this little issue of piecing together a plan with more moving parts than the space shuttle and a failure rate of my high school algebra class. Will it work? Well that depends on your working definition of "work". Either way it'll be fun. And it was fun. With every new Grisham book there are always the litany of superlatives that follow it. "King of the legal thriller", "America's greatest storyteller", "John Grisham is uber-popular", "John Grisham is Jason's best friend", "John is a magnificent storyteller". While I don't doubt these claims, I've never once bought a book based on a five word praise fest. I rely on other book lovers like myself. You don't know me, but I ask you to trust me on this; Grisham is the man and he's earned it. That's my eight word praise fest.

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