Quantcast
Latest Stories

John Grisham lets loose with his newest thriller

By

“I am a lawyer, and I am in prison. It’s a long story.” It’s the perfect opening line for a brand-new John Grisham book. “The Racketeer” (Doubleday, New York, 2012, 340 pages) is the lawyer-turned-writer’s 25th novel, and it’s a legal thriller, the kind of book that Grisham might as well have invented, but this is one he turns inside out.

In past novels, Grisham either liked to preach about a hot-button topic (capital punishment in 1994’s “The Chamber”) or an arcane aspect of the law (litigation in, well, 2011’s “The Litigators”). In recent years, Grisham has also been noticeably sharpening his prose, making his text muscular enough to match the dynamite legal plots he likes cooking up.

“The Racketeer” bristles with Grisham’s revamped narrative style, but it neither preaches nor lectures. Instead, the book is the closest thing to a good, old-fashioned yarn that Grisham has come up with, a novel that seeks to be thrilling instead of realistic.

Whopping premise

It has a whopper of a premise. Malcolm Bannister is an African-American ex-Marine convicted of a racketeering charge he was unaware of. Disbarred, his life practically destroyed and now the resident jailhouse lawyer at a minimum-security facility near Frostburg, Maryland, Bannister is officially inmate number 44861-127.

Convinced of his own innocence, he is angry at the federal government, seething because of what he deems to be unfair captivity. But when a federal judge named Raymond Fawcett in the judge’s cabin near Lake Higgins, Bannister sets something into motion by coursing a message through the warden to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). But it’s more than just a message. “I have a plan, one I have been plotting for years now. It is my only way out,” Bannister says.

Bannister says he knows who killed the judge, but will only talk once he is placed in witness security, received plastic surgery and started a new life as someone else. He seeks to take advantage of Rule 35, which says that a prisoner may be released if he aids in solving another crime, the legal element at the heart of “The Racketeer.” Skeptical at first, the FBI is soon swayed and Bannister is whisked from the prison camp and transformed into a new man named Max Reed Baldwin. The alleged killer is named, a black ex-drug dealer named Quinn Rucker who is quickly arrested and, under interrogation, confesses to the crime.

Just getting started

The end, right? The strange thing is that the reader is only halfway through “The Racketeer” when all this transpires. Grisham is just getting started, and so is Bannister. Bannister is suddenly flying to the Caribbean and back, setting up fake corporations, and tracking down someone he used to know. The FBI is desperately trying to keep track of him and trying to figure out what Bannister is up to. “So it’s just me, free but on the run, scheming some way to exact revenge while riding off into the sunset,” he says.

The rest of “The Racketeer” unfolds in rapid-fire fashion but Bannister’s true plan isn’t revealed until very close to the novel’s end in a chunk of breathless exposition. The book doesn’t try to be edgy or obscure. The calculating and clever Bannister is a fascinating protagonist, someone who may be too smart for everyone trying to catch up to him. Grisham is perfectly happy just telling a whale of a tale that just happens to have legal elements.  “The Racketeer” is really more like a classic heist film and it works.

“The Racketeer” is a great showcase for the slick storytelling that John Grisham who, by letting loose and just weaving one heck of a crisscrossing criminal tale, succeeds in keeping even those readers most familiar with his work guessing until the very end.

Available in hardcover from National Book Store.


Follow Us


Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Books , John Grisham , Lifestyle , The Racketeer

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/XWH5SD6XPM3XKND6PJQQ32ZRAU Mabuhay

    We are not impressed with his boring style…….Sheldon is still the best…..I have read  3 or more of Grisham’s books and only The Client appeals to me…. a little……

    His climax is usually more boring and disappointing. He is an overrated writer.



Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  2. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  3. This is not just a farm
  4. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  5. Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  6. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week?
  7. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  8. 12 other things you can do at Pico de Loro Cove
  9. Moist, extra-tender blueberry muffins
  10. The truffled mac ‘n’ cheese, eggs benedict, chicken leg confit are excellent
  1. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  2. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  3. Marcos grandson to wed beautiful Rocha scion
  4. France makes work beyond 6 p.m. illegal
  5. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  6. South Koreans crave Asia’s smelliest fish
  7. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  8. Ever heard of HydroBob?
  9. 90 percent of Filipino households don’t practice proper toilet hygiene, sanitation
  10. Boots Anson-Roa to wed in Eddie Baddeo
  1. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  2. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  3. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  4. Manila in shock over model Helena Belmonte’s death
  5. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  6. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  7. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  8. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  9. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer
  10. Ex-Givenchy model fights for ‘Yolanda’ survivors

News

  • Obama launches measures to support solar energy in US
  • Nebraska toddler gets stuck inside claw machine
  • Philippine eagle rescued by Army turned over to DENR
  • Gunmen attack Iraq military base, kill 10 soldiers
  • South Korea president shouted down by distraught parents
  • Sports

  • Vietnam says it will not host Asian Games
  • Nadal passes clay landmark with 300th victory
  • Wawrinka waltzes through with Monte Carlo walkover
  • Power Pinays smash India in Asian Women’s Club volleyball opener
  • PH youth boxers off to stumbling start in AIBA World tilt
  • Lifestyle

  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • This is not just a farm
  • Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  • Moist, extra-tender blueberry muffins
  • Entertainment

  • Jones, Godard, Cronenberg in competition at Cannes
  • Will Arnett files for divorce from Amy Poehler
  • American rapper cuts own penis, jumps off building
  • Jay Z to bring Made in America music fest to LA
  • Why Lucky has not bought an engagement ring for Angel
  • Business

  • Total says makes ‘very promising’ oil find off Ivory Coast
  • ‘Chinese Twitter’ firm Weibo to go public in US
  • World stocks subdued, Nikkei flat on profit taking
  • Asia stocks fail to match Wall Street gains
  • Fired Yahoo exec gets $58M for 15 months of work
  • Technology

  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Filipinos #PrayForSouthKorea
  • Taylor Swift tries video blogging, crashes into fan’s bridal shower
  • DOF: Tagaytay, QC best at handling funds
  • Smart phone apps and sites perfect for the Holy Week
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • Malaysia quarantines 64 villagers over MERS virus
  • DFA: 2 Filipinos survive Korean ferry disaster
  • PH asks airline passengers to check for MERS
  • Syria most dangerous country for journalists, PH 3rd—watchdog
  • Japan says visa-free entry still a plan
    Marketplace