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5.0 out of 5 starsTruth stranger than fiction
Reviewed in the United States on July 8, 2018
Although I downloaded this book in 2014 for some reason I “lost” it on my Kindle. As this plot revolves on the premise FBI agents use less than honorable methods such as making threats of prosecution of family and friends of the defendant. Also there is a subplot of a uranium Russia deal under Clinton. A lawyer is sent to federal prison under Rico act. He was innocent While serving his sentence he becomes aware of facts regarding the murder of a federal judge. This allows him an opportunity to have have his sentence commuted by giving up the murderer. How he gets back at the FBI is a really good story. Given today’s drama with the Mueller-Rosenstein debacle with rogue FBI personnel at the highest level and the Clinton Uranium deal with Russia this book read today was much more interesting. I recommend it highly.
5.0 out of 5 starsExcellent revenge tale of a lawyer wrongfully incarcerated
Reviewed in the United States on June 18, 2020
Malcolm Bannister was living the life of a retail lawyer in a Virginia town, doing real estate transactions, wills, and the other routine work which occupies a three partner firm, paying the bills but never striking it rich. A law school classmate contacts him and lets him know there's a potentially large commission available for negotiating the purchase of a hunting lodge in rural Virginia for an anonymous client. Bannister doesn't like the smell of the transaction, especially after a number of odd twists and turns during the negotiation, but bills must be paid, and this fee will go a long way toward that goal. Without any warning, during a civic function, costumed goons arrest him and perp-walk him before previously-arranged state media. He, based upon his holding funds in escrow for a real estate transaction, is accused of “money laundering” and indicted as part of a RICO prosecution of a Washington influence peddler. Railroaded through the “justice system” by an ambitious federal prosecutor and sentenced by a vindictive judge, he finds himself imprisoned for ten years at a “Club Fed” facility along with other nonviolent “criminals”.
Five years into his sentence, he has become the librarian and “jailhouse lawyer” of the prison, filing motions on behalf of his fellow inmates and, on occasion, seeing injustices in their convictions reversed. He has lost everything else: his wife has divorced him and remarried, and his law license has been revoked; he has little hope of resuming his career after release.
A jailhouse lawyer hears many things from his “clients”: some boastful, others bogus, but some revealing secrets which those holding them think might help to get them out. When a federal judge is murdered, Bannister knows, from his contacts in prison, precisely who committed the crime and leverages his position to obtain his own release, disappearance into witness protection, and immunity from prosecution for earlier acts. The FBI, under pressure to solve the case and with no other leads, is persuaded by what Bannister has to offer and takes him up on the deal.
A jailhouse lawyer, wrongly convicted on a bogus charge by a despotic regime has a great deal of time to ponder how he has been wronged, identify those responsible, and slowly and surely draw his plans against them.
This is one of the best revenge novels I've read, and it's particularly appropriate since it takes down the tyrannical regime which incarcerates a larger percentage of its population than any serious country and shows how a clever individual can always outwit the bumbling collectivist leviathan as long as he refuses to engage it on level terrain but always exploits agility against the saurian brain reaction time of the state.
The only goof I noticed is that on a flight from Puerto Rico to Atlanta, passengers are required to go through passport control. As this is a domestic flight from a U.S. territory to the U.S. mainland, no passport check should be required.
I wouldn't call this a libertarian novel, as the author accepts the coercive structure of the state as a given, but it's a delightful tale of somebody who has been wronged by that foul criminal enterprise obtaining pay-back by wit and guile.
I've read this book before, years ago, but as I do with most of his books, I read them quickly and then later I take the time to really savor them. I enjoy reading them the second time through probably more than the first time because I pick up more of the small interesting details. Grisham is about the best at details and yet, he doesn't get bogged down in them. He doesn't go on and on about what the character is wearing,for instance, unless it has to do with something necessary at that moment. Even then he covers only brief items. I like that. I skip over those parts in other books. Grisham does do a fantastic job of developing the characters of his books. Our feel like you know them personally. His story lines are always good and like this story full of twists and turns. Fantastic book!
4.0 out of 5 starsGood Plot, A "Different" Grisham novel.
Reviewed in the United States on March 9, 2020
The story is fast-paced from the very start. The plot unfolds bit by bit, and becomes obvious as you get into the last few chapters. The main characters are well fleshed-out as the story unfolds. While all the above is true, the author falls short of the excellence shown in his earlier works. The story lacks the depth of his prior works. It reads almost like a "hurry up and publish" book. Mr. Grisham's first several novels were "riveting" in plot and action, and superb in the writing. He is capable of excellence. Unfortunately his ability as a "wordsmith" is hidden in this novel. I hope he gets back to the excellent writing and "Nail-Biter" plots of his court room dramas. Yes, It is worth the read...It IS a Grisham, but if you grew-up on The Pelican Brief and Time to Kill...be prepared for a bit of disappointment.
2.0 out of 5 starsDon't Waste Your Time And Money!
Reviewed in the United States on August 24, 2015
Prior to reading The Racketeer, I've been a fan of John Grisham since The Firm was published and enjoyed -- though to varying degrees -- all of the many books of his that I read, but one. Now, after finishing The Racketeer, it becomes the second Grisham that I disliked.
I won't spend time offering a summary of this book since this can be found in the Amazon Book Description above and in many reader reviews. Instead, this review will focus on why I was disappointed in it and, thus, why it is not a book I'd recommend you rush out to read.
In fairness to Grisham, my problem with The Racketeer had nothing to do with his writing style, as Grisham does a good job in moving the book along at a pretty fast-paced, easy to read manner. As such, I never felt that the book dragged or was boring. Rather, my problems with The Racketeer stem from two factors: 1) without getting into specifics and run the risk of providing spoilers, the scheme on which the plot is based is almost totally preposterous; and 2) none of the characters are credible to me, nor are any of them likable; resulting in my not caring what happened to any of them.
While I am usually very liberal in my willingness to suspend disbelief when reading a thriller, The Racketeer, despite its moving along at a fast pace, pushed me well beyond my limits in this area. As a consequence, although it was readable for me, it is not recommendable. I hope this review is helpful in deciding if The Racketeer is a book for you.
5.0 out of 5 starsA six star read with more twists and turns than Ariadne's Labyrinth ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 12, 2018
I am not a dyed-in-the-wool everything-he-writes-is-five-stars John Grisham fan, so when I say this is a great book, I really mean this is a great book. And while the book might be an easy unputdownable read with a great story, it's the twists and turns which had me looking for the answer every which way that make this a stand-out book (mind you at times I wasn't that sure I knew what question I was trying to answer), and I really didn’t see the fine details of the denouement coming; and it's that attention to detail and those fine details that make this book so good.
So, while it's only the beginning of August, (and yes I know it’s a bit early for handing out gongs) but "The Racketeer" is odds-on-favourite for my book of the year (well at least so far).
PS I recommended "The Racketeer" to the Memsahib, and she's enjoying it, so that must be worth at least another star making this a six star read.
Nothing went wrong for the protagonist at any point. He was never close to failure or in any danger. Everything he attempted worked perfectly. A throwaway line at the end regarding how he couldn't believe his luck didn't even begin to cover it.
I felt for him at the beginning due to being wrongly imprisoned and cut off from his family, but as the book went on he became steadily less and less likeable and relatable. No particular reason was given for his quasi-omnipotence. If it was that easy to con your way out of prison and run around North/Central America giving the FBI the finger, why aren't more people doing it?
The book pretty much lost all momentum around the 30-40% mark and never really regained it. The gradual reveal sort of worked but there was only one point where I found myself genuinely unsure whether the protagonist was an anti-hero or a genuine villain. Ultimately I didn't care who killed the judge or whether Mal/Max's scheme worked. There wasn't a bad guy or antagonistic force to speak of.
I wasn't surprised by the author's note at the end where JG admitted he hadn't really done any research. It showed.
Also the tagline on the front makes little sense. The protagonist wasn't betrayed by the FBI as far as I could tell. And he didn't particularly seem motivated by revenge, but rather greed. The FBI got what they wanted in the end: the killer of the judge.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 23, 2017
Only read one of Grishams before now ( the firm ). And while I enjoyed the firm immensely, I feel this one is better. The firm slowly ( but only slightly),declined as it went on in my opinion. Where as this one is solidly good throughout its entirety. The storyline is excellent and the characters , while few , are interesting and well described. I personally usually prefer fantasy and sword and sorcery type books. But like to read a thriller by Grisham or King now and again to keep things fresh. All round a solid book that I enjoyed and would happily recommend to a friend.
As with most of the Grisham books I've read, I loved this. I didn't guess the ending, and didn't try to - I just enjoyed where the story took me. I always find John Grisham's books easy to read, and while they are always on a law based theme, I like the variety amongst them. With many books I find I am reading waiting for the big twist or revelation at the end. Rarely do I do this with these books as they're enjoyable throughout. This was no exception. Thumbs up from me.
I was an avid reader of John Grisham a few years ago but admit that i lost interest. However I have just finished the Racketeer and my interest is back in buckets! This story is utterly fantastic. It sweeps you along, all the time wondering who is real , who is in on the plot, what the actual plot is and will Max get caught in the end. You must read it. It's John Grisham at his storytelling best. I'm now deciding which book is next on my list.