After I finished my last book, I didn’t have any books on my to read list so I figured I couldn’t go wrong with John Grisham’s approximately 30th book. I had only read a handful of the previous ones but they usually kept my interest. This was no exception but on the other hand I am usually content if I catch one of the CSI episodes on TV. We are introduced to Malcolm Bannister an ex- lawyer who has been disbarred and is in prison for getting ensnarled with racketeering charges while executing some real estate transactions. It seems clear that he didn’t deserve the bunch of years he was sentenced but there he is now functioning as a jailhouse lawyer trying to help other prisoners find out if they might get out on some technicality which they rarely do. In the course of doing this, he hears some pretty hairy stories about crimes solved and unsolved. We also learn that there is Rule 35 where a convict can get his sentence reduced and get out of jail if he provides information that can solve an important unsolved crime. Not surprising, the plot becomes somewhat convoluted and interesting as Bannister who had lots of time to plot out his path to freedom has worked out a very complicated scenario. Once he is on the outside as part of his plan to carry out all the details required and avoid getting bumped off by the bad guys, he has plastic surgery .He also becomes a fake documentary film maker (shades of the plot of the movie Argo). Grisham in the afterword of the book confesses that the book is not based on any particular case or insight into prisons, the FBI or anything else. There really isn’t any moral point or lesson to be learned. Of course Grisham is a lawyer and he usually writes about legal stuff and there is plenty of that in this book. Most of all he is a good story teller. He obviously let his imagination take off and he doesn’t disappoint.
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