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Calico Joe: A Novel
Format: Mass Market Paperback|Change
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on June 4, 2014
First of all I would like to say that I have delayed reading this book for a while, and I regret it now. I am not even sure why I had the delay.

Before I give my opinion, I feel like it should be known that baseball is my life. I am from small town America. I was born in raised in a small town under the lights of the Dixie Park in rural North Louisiana. I loved the game so much I graduated with a degree so I can coach high school baseball. I now coach at a small town high school where baseball is the king.

I can relate to the book both from a childhood sense and a adulthood. John Grisham did a perfect job of capturing the emotion and realism of small town baseball heroes.

I cannot say enough about this novel. I would recommend Calico Joe to anyone that enjoys playing catch in the backyard with their old man. I would recommend Calico Joe to anyone that loves their dad.

Calico Joe offers something no other book, in my opinion anyway, can do. The story gives any baseball person a passport to their childhood.

Thanks Mr. Grishham.
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on November 22, 2017
Second of the Grisham sports novels I've read. Like in "Bleachers" before it, there is misconduct by athlete or coach; estrangement between family and/or friends; and forgiveness and possible renewal. Can't help but be glad of the defining moment between the two rival athletes, which I will not spoil for any who haven't read it. Quite a break from the legal thrillers Grisham is known for. And not as long-winded either. And the mixture of fictional players with real players and managers. What can I say? Way to do that homework, John!
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on July 24, 2012
The story is simple: a new kid is called up to the Cubs baseball team and becomes an instant star who then meets the big tough pitcher from the Mets. The kid homers off the pitcher and in the pitcher's mind insults him as he runs out the homer. Then the plot thickens. The book is seen through the eyes of the pitcher's son who has issues with his father that he must deal with. Now this book isn't just "issues" but a look back at what used to be the good ol' days. It makes you think as you read...when did I stop reading the box scores, when was the last baseball game I attended, why do I skip the sports pages now...? The book forces you to think about these things that used to be part of your life and why you stopped living that way. (In my case, one jungle war, one marriage, and one career at IBM...but is that reason enough?) Guess what, I now look at the box scores again. I actually page through the sports section. I read a sports article or two...and the world seems to slow down. And Timmy is starting to pitch like his Cy Young days, livin' is easy. So read this short little novella and enjoy life once again.
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on September 5, 2017
I am an avid baseball fan, first because my son played well through high school and secondly because I love LSU baseball. Grisham has never disappointed me in any of his novels and has always impressed me by his knowledge of so many things, especially baseball and football. I have read almost 90% of his books and always look forward to his new works. Keep up the great work.
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VINE VOICEon December 1, 2012
This book does NOT disappoint and the writing style is succinct and each chapter propels the reader to the next chapter seamlessly and leaves you wanting to know more as details surrounding the murder of a judge and what a jailed lawyer knows about it.
Malcolm Bannister is in jail for fraud and somehow knows details no one else does about the person(s) who killed a federal judge and since frustrated FBI agents have no leads, they release him from jail and give him immunity and a whole new identity if they will tell him the judge's killer.
In true Grisham fashion, he leads the reader through the twists and turns of this whodunit and without giving away any details, the reader sees the pieces fall together and how the plot was hatched and revenge is a dish best served cold. Grisham obviously had fun writing this book as it has wit and humor and details are thoughtfully used to show Malcolm's humanity and how he methodically used his jailhouse lawyer status to get revenge against the legal system and plan his freedom beyond prison bars.
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on March 12, 2013
There are a few things wrong with this novel.-- SPOILERS---
1. The timeline is awkward in order to hold back vital information, but it simply doesn't work. It makes the narrator unreliable.
2. The story is just simply unbelievable in every aspect. We are supposed to believe that Max did not actually launder money, that he is innocent, yet as soon as he is released from prison he knows exactly what to do and who to go to to launder the money and does. As an act of revenge, we are supposed to believe. That is only one unreal aspect of the novel. There are dozens like this. The first chapter he speaks about how he adores his son, is why he wants out, lives for him etc and then the son is only mentioned one more time in later chapters. His family relationships are like this as well. Dad is important in the 1st 1/3rd of the book but then only mentioned again one time.

3. The money. Max initially gets 150k and talks about how he is now "rich" what? I didn't use a calculator, but it seems as if he goes through this money in about a week. When he hits the real jackpot, he seems just as impressed with it as the 150k.

4. The relationship with Vanessa was just not well set up. We are told in the 1st half that he barely knows her, they share a few letters but that's it. When he gets out of jail however, the relationship goes from near strangers to intensely sexual and romantic and then she becomes a willing partner immediately. She leaves her job and does what he says and turns out that she was apparently in on the whole thing from the beginning, but that is never really made clear.

5. It's boring. Mind-numbingly boring with no action, dozens and dozens of pages where nothing moves forward.

6. None of the characters are really written so that you get to know them. Except maybe the one who gets the brunt of the punishment. The others, even Max, are 1 dimensional- unlikable and uninteresting.

7. The biggest issue is that this is told in 1st person for most of the novel- Max is the narrator. Yet, Max tells us nothing. He is keeping the secrets from us, the reader, in order to add mystery but this does not work. This is a confessional style narration and he should be confessing everything, not playing us.

It's just not a good book. I even bought the audio book AND the kindle and did the narration thing on the kindle HD because I could not stop falling asleep after 10 minutes of reading. It took days to get through this book- nearly 10. Gone Girl I finished in one setting, napping for a couple hours but then waking early because I.Could.Not.Stop.Thinking.About.It. Not my favorite book, but definitely a fast intense read. Hunger Games, I finished all three in a day.
This took 10 days because I fell asleep so much. I would have just tossed it, but I am not the type that can leave a book unfinished. No matter how bad it is. And this one was bad.
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Clichéd, cold, contrived, convoluted but crisp. It had been a while since I’d read a Grisham tale, and I quickly realized how much I’d missed the efficient writing style that kept me turning pages. However, I don’t think “The Racketeer” is Grisham at the top of his game. The biggest problem for me was that I never warmed up to any of the characters. The characterization, including the dialogue, seems below normal Grisham standards. The writing style was crisp, but almost everything else was cold and stale. Maybe next time.
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on April 18, 2017
Grisham is an excellent writer and this somewhat formulaic tale is interesting and entertaining. It's not great literature, but made me keep turning the pages and hoping that the characters would resolve things. I'd buy it and read it again if I hadn't read it once, but it is not they type of book I would treasure and reread.
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on May 23, 2014
Sloppy, lazy, and totally lacking in plot creation or character development. Grisham was betting his name would sell this and pity the fool who took that bait,,,,me! For that he gets five stars. For the book, a negative zero!
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on September 19, 2017
It is written in a very different way from most "courtroom thrillers." But it was compelling and interesting, even if I was lost for a chapter at a time about why the protagonist was doing what they were doing. I had to have trust that Grisham would bring us into the overall story sometime in the upcoming pages.
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