Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Racketeer by John Grisham

 It seems nearly impossible to believe that I've never written a Grisham review for the web site. I believe I've read most of what he's written over the years, but I guess I've never given them a full analysis before - and I won't now.

The story reads a little bit like The Shawshank Redemption. A professional fellow, lawyer (no surprises there) Malcolm Bannister ends up in jail on racketeering charges because of an overzealous federal prosecutor and his overconfidence in the U.S. justice system's ability to punish the guilty and free the innocent. Sucker. He's doing ten years in a minimum security facility, and has lost everything that's important to him; his job, his wife, his son and his reputation.

But Malcolm comes up with a plot to get himself out of prison. He knows the identity of the killer of a federal judge (someone he met in prison) and proposes to trade that information to a stymied federal task force in return for a full pardon and a place in the witness protection program. Things proceed reasonably predictably from there, and end up where many Grisham novels seem to, on the beaches of the Caribbean.

What did I tell you? Shawshank.

There are a couple of interesting twists to the tale, and plenty of Grisham's editorializing about the state of the justice system and treatment of prisoners in this country. Interesting, but distracting from the fact that Grisham really doesn't have a new story to tell, just a retread of some old ones.

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