John Grisham - The Racketeer: A Novel Reviews

John Grisham - The Racketeer: A Novel

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The Racketeer by John Grisham

Feb 4, 2013
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:great plot development and interesting characters, not obvious ending

Cons:takes a while to see where the story is going

The Bottom Line: I found myself truly enjoying and looking forward to reading this book each day. A very nice legal thriller with a fast pace and interesting plot.


I only recently "discovered" John Grisham when I read The Litigators last year and loved it. I didn't go back and read all his others, but when I heard he wrote a new one I decided to borrow it from my library. I was impressed with this one too, The Racketeer.

This was a really enjoyable book about a man, Mal Bannister, who begins the book in prison. He has been in 5 years when a federal judge is murdered in his cabin in the woods along with his secretary who is found naked. It is quite scandalous, but there are no real leads. Mal knows who it was though and contacts his warden to request to provide information about the killer in exchange for a Rule 35 which would free him and give him a new identity with protection.

As the book progresses we begin to wonder where it is all leading. Late in the book comes the twist. I have to admit things seemed like they needed some explaining and the last quarter of the book it all falls together. It was beautiful. It was told so well. It is all told from Mal's (who becomes Max with his identity change) point of view and while we see a lot of what he is thinking and what he is doing we don't get the whole picture and we don't know all the back story.

Grisham does a great job of showing us he knows the legal system. Mal was a lawyer before going to jail for racketeering without even realizing it by taking on the wrong client. He tells us that as the prison librarian he reads a lot and he has spent plenty of time studying all the laws that would be beneficial to him.

The character development is good. Mal(x) obviously is the main character, but his girlfriend, Vanessa is interesting, as are some of the players in the underworld and the FBI members he deals with. Mal is tricky and smart. He is African American and knows it, being aware of it when he goes to areas where just about everyone else is white and when he goes to some Caribbean countries where his skin color is the same as everyone else's. I think that's the only thing I didn't like as much, I realize an author can research such things but it seems a little odd for a white man to write about racial experiences as a black man.

This book is considered a legal thriller and while there isn't a lot of fear of murder there is a lot of suspense about how things will turn out. If people will get caught or get away with it, and how the courts and the FBI are involved in it all. I really enjoyed the writing and read it very quickly (for me) in about a week for 340 pages. If you've enjoyed any of Grisham's other books you'll probably enjoy this and if you're curious about his work, this is as good as any, I would imagine, to check out his writing.


Recommend this product? Yes


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