When Judge Raymond Fawcett is murdered and his safe is emptied, the FBI scrambles to solve a crime with very little evidence. Then comes an offer from Malcolm Bannister, a former attorney who is serving time in a Federal prison camp for money laundering. Bannister says he knows who did it and why, but he wants a deal.
I enjoyed this clever story, which carries the reader through a plot that seems straightforward and evokes sympathy for Bannister’s seemingly wrongful conviction. Grisham introduces characters and presents facts as needed and by mid-story, we think we have an idea how it will all work out.
But new characters and twists lead in a different direction and just enough information is left hanging until the finish, when it’s all wrapped up. In the end, you can’t help but return to the beginning and rethink the characters. Grisham shows us that the question of what is fair game does not always have a clear answer.
I liked Bannister’s character, even as we learn more about him and see to what lengths he will go. I enjoyed the fast pace of the book and how Grisham pokes fun at the FBI. If you’re a lawyer or a former inmate and you take issue with some of the facts or unrealistic turns, make sure you read the Author’s Note at the end, telling us this is “indeed a work of fiction.”
It’s been years since I read The Firm, The Pelican Brief and The Client, which I thought were excellent. This does not seem as substantial, but entertaining nonetheless.
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