John Grisham is the master of the southern legal thriller, with well-known and best-selling books and films such as “The Firm,” “The Pelican Brief,” “A Time to Kill,” “The Client,” “The Runaway Jury,” “The Chamber,” and many more. “The Racketeer” is one of the newer books in that fine line. It is told in the first person, through the eyes and actions of Malcolm Bannister, a black, small town Virginia lawyer. While Grisham is white, he practiced small town law in Mississippi and has a pretty good feel for the South. The opening lines of the novel are, “I am a lawyer, and I am in prison. It’s a long story.” All three are true, especially the long part. Bannister was caught up in a money-laundering scheme of which he had no part. None-the-less, he was convicted, disbarred, lost his wife and family, his ‘good’ name, and is serving 10 years in the Federal pen, frustrated and angry, until fortune finally smiles his way. The corrupt Federal Judge who convicted him is murdered and he learns from another prisoner who did it and why. Bannister contrives an intricate plot to get himself out of jail, get his hands on the millions the Judge has squirreled away, and get his revenge on the system that sent him away. However, if Bannister started out as an innocent man, he is anything but at the end. It is a fun read, but long and slow in parts; and in the end it leaves a lot to be desired. The ending itself almost seems rushed, as if Grisham looked at the clock, or his page count, or got one too many demands from his publisher and quickly wrapped it up — too quickly, with a lot of ‘he did this, and then he did that’, The End.’ The story deserved better.
William F. Brown is the author of 5 suspense novels with over 300 Five-Star Reviews: The Undertaker, Amongst My Enemies, Thursday at Noon, Winner Take All, and now Aim True, My Brothers. They are all available on Kindle and now on Audible Audio Books. You read about them at billbrownwritesnovels.wordpress.com