Top positive review
on 1 September 2016
Malcolm Bannister is an African-American former lawyer, now in jail, having being implicated in criminal activity. When a prominent federal judge is murdered, he seizes the opportunity to play the system which he feels has victimised him by delivering the guilty party into the hands of the authorities; the price being his freedom. But then things get complicated...
I was familiar with John Grisham from the raft of Hollywood films which were made from his legally-oriented crime thriller fiction in the 1990s ("The Client", "The Pelican Brief", "A Time To Kill"), although I have seen relatively few; this was my first encounter with one of his novels.
"The Racketeer" plods along intriguingly enough before pulling the carpet from under the reader's feet, taking off in an unexpected direction. This is deftly done, to the extent that one ignores the myriad implausibilities and enjoys the ride.
The detail, focussing on the intricacies of the American legal system, is sometimes forbiddingly opaque, but one is carried along by the desire to find out how the resourceful Malcolm (who only seems to discover his cleverness once he has been incarcerated) is going to pull off his cunning plan.
Apparently a film adaptation is in the works; the adaptors will have to do a little work to ramp up the excitement levels, but a lucky actor will have fun playing with audience sympathies in the leading role.