...The Racketeer is an unusual book for Mr. Grisham. Unlike many of his others, it has no soapbox to stand on and is not out to teach lessons about justice ...is much more duplicitous than that. In its early stages it does follow the familiar Grisham template, in which a lawyer finds himself unexpectedly in legal trouble ...this is not a story about a triumph or a miscarriage of courtroom justice. It’s the more devious, surprising story of a smart man who gets even smarter once he spends five years honing his skills as a jailhouse lawyer — and then expertly concocts an ingenious revenge scheme ... Mr. Grisham writes with rekindled vigor here. Perhaps that’s because he hasn’t mired this book in excessive research.
...carries the reader along one track (innocent man seeks exoneration) only to switch on to another (cat-and-mouse caper) halfway through with delicious, frictionless ease ... It's once Bannister is sprung that the fun begins. His voice, previously so pleading and persuasive, acquires malice as the force of his hatred of the FBI becomes apparent ... That we would never be able to guess has led some critics to accuse Grisham of not 'playing fair' with his readers ... Grisham's genius here is to withhold the frontstory too, even as it unspools away from us.
Let's make a deal isn't a game show –– it's a con game –– in John Grisham's latest legal thriller. And if all goes according to plan, The Racketeer's Malcolm Bannister is going to game his way out of a federal prison camp in Frostburg, Md ...as in any decent thriller, that's not all there is to the story ...best thing about The Racketeer comes, in part, from an appreciation for the time and calculated thinking that Grisham, the author of more than a dozen legal thrillers, has invested in his clever, twisty plot ... This is the kind of story that built Grisham's reputation as a lion of the literary thriller. The Racketeer is guilty of only one thing: keeping us engaged until the very last page.
The new John Grisham novel gets three F’s — one for fascinating, another one for facile and a third for fun. In The Racketeer, Mr. Grisham treats his legions of faithful readers to yet another sure-fire, hard-to-put-down, story-driven thriller. That he does not also provide the reader with the literary equivalent of an earth-moving experience is by this point in Mr. Grisham’s productive, prolific career basically beside the point ... Mr. Grisham does his usual excellent job of taking us through the next steps as Malcolm/Max: convinces the skeptical Feds that this is not another con job; gets a new face and voice; and fades off into the sunsets of Jamaica, Antigua and other points Caribbean ... Oh, and for those who like unpredictable endings, The Racketeer has a doozy.
From Shakespeare to Tony Soprano, the theme of revenge has always been a favorite; The Racketeer is a novel of revenge ... Bannister’s imprisonment serves as a soapbox for Grisham’s trenchant legal observations, suggesting that the incarceration of far too many of our citizens in a prison-industrial complex is a substantial waste of federal and state funds ... The plot twists and feints during the second half of the novel will occasionally have you checking the title to make certain you are still reading the same book ... Unbound by the borders of the courtroom or a trial, The Racketeer is vigorously entertaining.
Evenly paced, smart legal thriller — trademark Grisham, in other words ... Grisham locates his story on the familiar ground of the racial divide: Bannister, 43 years old, is black, the only black ex-attorney at the Maryland prison camp to which he has been committed—not a bad place, a 'resort' in fact as compared to most pens ...therein lies Grisham’s longish, complex tale of cat and mouse. Every character in the book is believable, and though some of the plot turns seem just a touch improbable, the reader never quite knows whether things are going to work out for Bannister before the heaviest of the heavies quiets him down for good ... That’s not so of Grisham’s plot, which is carefully mapped out without seeming pat, leading to a most satisfying conclusion.
Bestseller Grisham is back in top form with this twisty, precisely plotted legal thriller that eschews the civics lessons of some of his more recent work ...masterful opening introduces disgraced Virginia lawyer Malcolm Bannister, who has served half of a 10-year prison sentence for money laundering after getting caught up in a federal net aimed at a sleazy influence peddler ... The surprises all work, and the action builds to a satisfying resolution.