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VINE VOICEon 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.
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on January 7, 2017
There are major plausibility issues with this book. Some examples:

A man has such effective cosmetic surgery, and is so adept at modifying his way of speaking, that someone who knows him well doesn't recognize him when sitting and talking to him for many hours face-to-face. But a woman who developed a basically physical interest in him (without ever getting very close) still has exactly the same interest after his face is modified--and she quickly becomes a partner in an insanely complex, outrageous crime. And a drug runner who is described as being very smart allows himself to be talked into confessing to a homicide. And a small-town lawyer is sentenced to 10 years in jail because he allowed a political hustler to deposit millions of dollars in his bank account--without warning or explanation. And, much more.

Grisham has a history of forcing his characters to follow a contrived plot (instead of deriving the plot from the behavior of the characters). But this is by far the most artificial of his books that I have read. In addition, parts of it become so bogged down in irrelevant detail, they seem dull and pointless. And the protagonist becomes increasingly horrible in his callous but self-righteous treatment of other people as the plot progresses. And the romantic interest is purely physical (which I guess is typical of Grisham novels, but more blatant in this one).

Very disappointing, especially by comparison with the more recent Rogue Lawyer, which I thought was ambitious and sometimes brilliant.
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on May 3, 2015
Mr. Grisham, where have you gone? I liked this book even less than Gray Mountain and that is saying something. At least Gray Mountain contained a plot of substance. It was going somewhere. It was building up. It had a climax. And then it...ended. Unresolved. With absolutely no indication that the protagonist was going to follow through with anything that the plot had been building up to. But I digress.
The Racketeer gives us Malcolm Bannister, who cons the Feds into letting him go based on knowing who killed a Federal judge, and then while evading the relatives of the man he accused of killing said judge even though he's had all kinds of expensive plastic surgery, he sets up a fake movie company with the help of a woman he's just been flirting with for the last several years during prison visits, and lures young Nathan Cooley into giving over who really "done it", and then strands him in Jamaica with a first aid kit full of cocaine, while he and his girlfriend find stolen gold, give the Feds the REAL name of the guy who killed the Federal judge, and frolic in the surf happily ever after. Or something.
Where's the man who wrote A Time to Kill? And The Firm?
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on October 7, 2014
My fist Grisham and a bit of a disappointment.
It started out great. I really enjoyed the book till about half way through and then it fell flat.
I did not like any character and for me to like a book there has to be someone, any one, with some redeeming qualities. There has to be a hero. There has to be someone I can root for. I didn't find a single person, or in-fact institution, that I can support. That was my biggest problem with it.
I was hoping the protagonist Mal/Max can be that be it really took a turn for the worst.
The way that the actual killer was set up and framed, even though far fetched (I'm actually okay with things being far fetched), was just so cold that it left me thinking "yeah this guy has done it but he hasn't really done anything to deserve being treated like this by Max when he hasn't done anything wrong with Max". This just made me dislike everyone else even more.
The appearance of the girlfriend from the middle of no where was just ridiculous. Mal didn't even think of her till about 50% of the book! She felt a little forced to me.
I think the only thing that kept me reading this book till the end is the first half. It was intriguing till that point then just got tedious.
I hope my next Grisham is better than this one.
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on March 27, 2016
So far unbelievable. I don't know if I can continue to read this. I cannot believe that an attorney, even a small town attorney would not have any sense at all in receiving a wrong payment of several million dollars.

First of all, the attorney says that after a gazillion changes in the name of the client (why doesn't that ring a bell? Why don't you know who you are representing?) the client was supposed to send him $450,000, $400,000 of which was supposed to pay the first 2 months rent. Now, first of all, why would the client pay rental for 2 months and then buy the property? Second, why send the rental to the attorney to pay the rental?

Then he receives millions of dollars. And the book doesn't even say that these millions are put into an escrow account for the benefit of the client (but then of course, he doesn't know who the client is!). He doesn't contact the IRS, because I guess he never figures out that he could be liable for the taxes on several million dollars and that maybe, of course, the money is being laundered.

Of course he is a small time lawyer and never heard of laundering money -- LOL!

Then he finally instructs his banker to send the money back (although he still should have contacted the IRS), but the banker can't make up his mind what to do for 2 days..... HUH?

THEN, he is offered a deal to plead guilty, but says he wouldn't accept it because he was innocent. He was NOT innocent. He accepted several hundred million dollars, put it into his attorney account (NOT an escrow account) and never contacted the IRS or any other governmental agency.

Then, he writes to the FBI and says he knows who is the killer of the judge, and wants the FBI to release him (on his own recognizance) because he says he knows who the killer is. But, at the point in the story that I am, he gives no guarantees, gives no hints, gives no assurances that he would be returned to prison if he is wrong. BUT the FBI is interested.....? Why? Because the warden says he has been a good inmate.

I am not an attorney (although was a real estate broker) and certainly know more than this dumb bum. I'll write more if the story gets any more believable. Otherwise I give up.
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VINE VOICEon November 3, 2016
First Sentence: I am a lawyer, and I am in prison.

The opening line not only captures our attention, but is a great hook. How could one not read one from there?

One of the things that makes reading Grisham so interesting is not only his obvious knowledge of the law, but inclusion of factual people, events and cases. However, Grisham can also infuriate one, not by his writing, but by the facts he includes—“An audit last year revealed that the Bureau of prisons had purchased, for “administrative use,” four thousands chairs at $800 per chair. The same manufacturer sold the same chair at wholesale for $79.”

Reading Grisham provides an eye-opening look at our “justice” system, and it’s not pretty. One quickly realizes that is no “justice” in our justice system.

Malcolm is such a well-constructed character. He is bright, clever, and takes the reader on a very twisty ride. What is especially interesting is that he’s really neither a good- or bad-guy, and neither are those chasing him. Malcolm is someone who knows how the system worked and played it like a Stradivarius. However, he’s not a character one particularly likes even though, in essence, he hasn’t done anything wrong.

“The Racketeer” is very a cleverly written puzzle. One must pay attention to the details, particularly toward the end. It may not be Grisham’s best book, but it is one that keeps you reading.

THE RACKETEER (Legal Thriller-Malcolm Bannister-Contemp) – Okay
Grisham, John – Standalone
Doubleday – Oct 2012
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on January 26, 2015
The Racketeer was a quick read written by John Grisham. It centers on a former lawyer who is in jail for money laundering that resulted from a dubious land deal. My immediate thought was, although the lawyer was innocent, he could have handled his situation in a much more intelligent way when he realized that the situation surrounding the money was sketchy.

The story then evolves into a plot that he cooks up while in prison to gain a pardon by turning in a fellow inmate that escaped and supposedly killed a federal judge. As the book goes on, we realize that all is not as it seems and that he has pulled off a masterful plot for both financial and personal gain.

This is where I struggled with this book. This lawyer put together a brilliant plot to dupe the government. Yet, the situation that landed him in prison was handled by him in such an amateurish way, the two elements of the plot do not add up. Further, the book seems to play fast and loose with the legal aspects of the story. This is not a usual trait for Grisham. At the end of the book, he admits to writing this story with little or no research. It almost feels like a book that was written to satisfy a deadline. While the story is enjoyable and has some good twists and turns, it's not the usual Grisham book that is full of legal detail.
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on April 29, 2017
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!
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on September 8, 2013
Its a fun read but if youve read at least two Grisham books before you'll recognize the recycled plot devices and character traits that he uses in almost every book:

1) This book take place in the south which is full of racist conservatives
2) The plot involves a large sum of money and a dead federal judge
3) The protagonist knows he is being followed
4) The protagonist doesnt like the federal government
5) The protagonist is a young male lawyer (although this one is black..so that SOMETHING different).
6) The protagonist likes girls with long legs
7) The government convicted an innocent person
8) The cops use shady tactics to get a "confession" for a suspected killer.
9) The protagonist visits and wishes to live in the Caribbean islands.
10) The female accomplice has little to no depth.

That being said, I wanted to see how it ended because the guy can flat-out write.
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VINE VOICEon December 24, 2012
Normally I do not listen to audio books; however, they were useful while recovering from a minor surgical procedure that kept me from reading for about a week. I enjoyed those audio books and after reading a cyber friend's (K. Corn) exceptionally helpful amazon.com review, I ordered the abridged compact disk (CD) version of John Grisham's new novel "The Racketeer."

An abridged, as opposed to an unabridged is a condensed version that intends to shorten a story without changing the plot. In this case, veteran actor and superb audio book narrator, J. D. Jackson brought this 5 CD, 6.5 hours legal thriller to life. It was the perfect entertainment for my wife and me during our 474 mile round trip last weekend. The story was enjoyable and the drive seemed to pass quickly.

The protagonist, Malcolm Bannister, is "The Racketeer." A partner in a 3-man struggling law firm, this young lawyer's life changes dramatically after being charged with a white collar crime that landed him in Federal Prison near Frostburg, Maryland for a 10-year stint.

After reading a newspaper article reporting the seemingly unsolvable brutal murder of Federal Judge Fawcett and his secretary in his remote lakeside cabin, Malcolm is back in the driver's seat again once he convinces the FBI and Attorney General that he knows who killed the victims and why they were assassinated.

Malcolm barters for a new identity and relocation under the Federal Witness Protection Program, the reward money, immediate release from prison and his criminal record expunged in exchange for the indictment of his former jail house friend, a vindictive and ruthless leader of a family drug dealing cartel.

The drug lord quickly penetrates the witness protection program and Banisters location and identity. In an attempt to survive his ordeal, Malcolm uses his considerable skill to ditch the fed's and the long reach of his adversaries.

Listeners will find themselves engaged and spellbound as the antagonist and the author via a talented narrator takes them on a mysterious and suspenseful ride that will not be unraveled until the very satisfying end.

Enjoy!
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