Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Racketeer by John Grisham

I've been a fan of John Grisham's work for a long time. I had been looking forward to reading: The Racketeer for weeks and finally got around to it during the Christmas holidays. Now I'm wondering why I bothered to put in the time.
The story starts out OK. Not great but OK. In keeping with most of Grisham's previous books , the pace of this story is fast and kept me relatively engaged until about half-way through. There, the story takes an implausible turn and things quickly go downhill from there.
From the Amazon product page:
"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."
Sounds good, doesn't it?
Well, I won't go into plot details in case you are planning to read this one. Suffice to say (in terms of being unbelieveable) if for example this is how the FBI actually conducts itself, or even close, I would be very surprised. When protagonist: Malcolm Bannister is actually allowed to keep "the loot" in addition to the other "perks" he had been granted,  I just shook my head as I was reading. Come on Mr. Grisham! I know there are times when law enforcement agencies have to make allowances, cut corners.. in order to obtain evidence that they need to prove a case but this goes too far. By the author's own admission at the end of the book, he did little research for this one.

And sad to say: IT SHOWS!
The reaction to: The Racketeer over at Amazon is a very mixed bag, much more so than with most of Grisham's earlier books. There are a lot of 1 and 2 star ratings for this one, all saying pretty much the same things: implausible plot, unlikeable/unmemorable characters and a lack of quality in the writing that has a lot of people questioning if Grisham even wrote this one!
I'm not giving up on John Grisham, YET.
Hopefully, he'll get back on track with his next thriller. There wasn't much by way of (believeable) thrills in this book. I hope this isn't the beginning of the end when it comes to John Grisham's previous quality of work as a first-rate novelist.
No matter how big an author gets, in the book biz, a few "stinkers" can still bring them down and hard. It made me wonder, again after reading what Grisham said about his lack of research for this one, if he has decided to rest on his laurels for now and let his reputation as the master of the legal thriller, continue to sell mega copies of his new releases. It won't wash, at least in the long run. As is the case with most creative ventures, when you're a writer: you really are only as good as your last book.
Mr. Grisham, read the reviews, listen to your fans!
You didn't get to the top of the book pile, writing books like: The Racketeer.
Overall rating for this book: Fair. 2 out of 5. 


  1. Excellent review but I don't think I'll bother to read this book after reading what you've said here. And it's so true, authors are only as good as their last book.

  2. read some and followed up with movie viewing; havent read The Rackeeter yet

    *•. ¸*•.¸*•.¸*•. *•.¸ ¸.•*¸.•*¸.•*¸.•*¸.•*
    *... *...*Happy New Year, 2013*...*...*
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    much love...

  3. Yep i figure with time they must start drying up on stories, I loved the Pelican Brief, and personal favourite The Chambers...that was fantastic, I've read all his old books but none of the new..Hey Ithought you were closing this down? glad you didn't although I'm recycling all my old photos most of my visitors now are new, 'cause I refuse to pay for any domaine, damnit I have to save for a car!!!!

  4. Sometimes it seems that they just have to push the book out fast, and like you said, it shows.

    I dislike it when a successful author changes direction, and style, it almost makes me feel ripped off.


  5. Hi Joe, I hope this is just a "one off" in terms of being a dud when it comes to John Grisham's books. Time will tell. I know he's also writing kid's book now too, with a law theme. those I haven't seen.

    Hi Gillena, Let me know what you think if you do Gillena.

    Hi Lorraine, I love so many of Grisham's earlier books, my fav is The Street Lawyer partly because of my long-time commitment and concern for street people and the poor. That one really struck a chord with me. More recently, I LOVED The Litigators, which I also reviewed here.

    No, I have no plans to retire this blog, having too much fun writing reviews and all the perks that go along with hosting this blog. I'm finishing up at Happy Break though as 4 blogs were just too much, timewise.

    Hi Jen, Isn't that the truth. I totally agree.

    Happy Reading, G :<)

  6. oh that stinks....i have read grisham for years and he is a great story teller often, i just read the one prior to this The Litigators, i think...i enjoyed it....

  7. Hi Geraldine and thank you for the'heads up' review of the Grisham book. I am a great fan of his and haven't encountered this book yet. I scanned over your list and dvd and books to see if you had read my daughter's book, "The Town Thaat Drowned", by Riel Nason? It was this year's winner of the regional Commonwealth Prize for Canada and Europe and is being published in Australia , coming out in March, 2013 down under. My daughter took part in the Vancouver Book fest in October and it was her first trip to B>C. She loved it. It was a nice surpeise to see your comment on my blog this morning. And I remember your great poetry! and your cooking skills and interests. So, "Hello back " from the frigid, snowy east.

  8. It's the same as the Stephen King thing in a way. It's like they're "calling" it in. They've reached a point in their popularity that they simply don't try as hard. Sad. I've never been a fan of John Grisham, I find him boring and dry at the best of times lol But I get what your saying about these authors not reaching their potential after attaining the top and just 'calling it in".

  9. The Racketeer definitely held my interest, I could hardly put it down. It has a surprising ending and also a creative plot.


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