John Grisham’s ‘The Racketeer’ Is Fun, Fast, and Reminiscent of His Classic Bestsellers [REVIEW]

The Caribbean is a good place to hide. (Photo courtesy Canva)

He was a small-time lawyer learning to spread his wings. Then he got involved with the wrong client and was wrongly thrown in prison. But he has a plan, and if it works, he’ll get away scot free. Will the Feds buy what he’s selling? Find out in John Grisham’s The Racketeer.

John Grisham's THE RACKETEER
Doubleday Books

Former attorney Malcolm Bannister may reside in the Federal Prison Camp near Frostburg, Maryland, but despite his incarcerated status, he has a fairly cushy job on the inside. He’s the librarian and everyone’s favorite jailhouse lawyer. He doles out advice to his fellow inmates, and sometimes even to the camp staff.

When he approaches the warden and asks to meet with the Feds, the warden reluctantly helps him out, but even then, the FBI tries to write him off. Ultimately, however, Malcolm has information they need to know: the identity of the killer who recently murdered Federal Judge Raymond Fawcett and his young secretary.

Before he will share his closely guarded information though, Malcolm has a list of requests that must be met, beginning with his release from prison. But that’s just the first step of his plan. As negotiations get underway, can Malcolm be trusted? Can the Feds? And once he’s released, what guarantee is there that the information he provides will actually help the FBI apprehend the killer?

The Racketeer reminds me why I fell in love with John Grisham’s work in the first place. Fast paced, witty, and reminiscent of The Client and The Firm, this story pokes fun at the ineptitude of government agencies and sheds light on legal loopholes big enough to march an elephant through.

For much of the novel, Malcolm is an unreliable, albeit likable protagonist that readers will find themselves cheering for. Shrewd, calculating, and smarter than everyone else around him, his determination to not only get free, but stay that way is what propels him through the arc of the story.

Over the years, Grisham’s work has remained consistently good. But in recent years, he occasionally uses his books as a soapbox from which he testifies about the injustices of the world. At times, this has made his writing challenging to plod through. But that’s not the case here.

The Racketeer is simply a fun legal thriller that keeps readers guessing, hoping that the little guy gets his day, including payback against the government machine and a much-deserved happy ending. Fans of Grisham’s classic bestsellers will absolutely love this one!

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About the author

John Grisham is the author of 47 consecutive number one bestsellers, which have been translated into nearly 50 languages. His recent books include The Judge’s List, Sooley, and his third Jake Brigance novel, A Time for Mercy, which is being developed by HBO as a limited series.

Grisham is a two-time winner of the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction and was honored with the Library of Congress Creative Achievement Award for Fiction.

When he’s not writing, Grisham serves on the board of directors of the Innocence Project and of Centurion Ministries, two national organizations dedicated to exonerating those who have been wrongfully convicted. Much of his fiction explores deep-seated problems in our criminal justice system.

John lives on a farm in central Virginia. To learn more, visit, like John on Facebook, and follow him on Instagram and Twitter.

By John Grisham
340 pp. Doubleday Books. $35.

Purchase The Racketeer direct from Jathan & Heather Books or from one of these other fine online retailers: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | Half Price Books | Hudson Booksellers | IndieBound | Powell’s | Target | Walmart.

John Grisham
John Grisham

About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

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