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One Murder Too Many?
on March 8, 2013
Quite frankly, I was stunned at the 1,900+ five-star reviews, hailing this book as a "page-turner". I wondered if maybe I missed out on the "Page-Turner Special Edition" and instead accidentally picked up the "Slow, Plodding, Wish You Could Get Your Money Back Edition".
But what exactly makes a page-turner?
For me, I need someone to root for. I have to have some sort of emotional investment in the character and his or her fate. I have read nearly all of Grisham's novels, and I've always had this connection with his protagonists - even those who were terribly, deeply flawed.
My relationship with Malcolm Bannister started off just fine. In the early pages, Malcolm is reminiscent of Stephen King's Andy Dufresne from "Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption" - professional, unfairly convicted, plying his former trade in the jailhouse to pass the time.
But Malcolm began to lose me when two murders set into motion a sequence of events that he has clearly been anticipating for some time.
The second murder was particularly horrific. As I continued reading, I found it hard to stomach that Malcolm was willing to leverage this tragedy for his own personal gain. And the less interest that I had in Malcolm's well-being, the less interest I had in turning pages.
Had Grisham left out the more gratuitous murder, I might have maintained a little more sympathy and respect for Malcolm. But as it turned out, I did finally find someone in this book to root for: The Feds.