The Racketeer Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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Given the importance of what they do, and the controversies that often surround them, and the violent people they sometimes confront, it is remarkable that in the history of this country only four active federal judges have been murdered.
Judge Raymond Fawcett has just become number five.
Who is the Racketeer? And what does he have to do with the judge’s untimely demise? His name, for the moment, is Malcolm Bannister. Job status? Former attorney. Current residence? The Federal Prison Camp near Frostburg, Maryland.
On paper, Malcolm’s situation isn’t looking too good these days, but he’s got an ace up his sleeve. He knows who killed Judge Fawcett, and he knows why. The judge’s body was found in his remote lakeside cabin. There was no forced entry, no struggle, just two dead bodies: Judge Fawcett and his young secretary. And one large, state-of-the-art, extremely secure safe, opened and emptied.
What was in the safe? The FBI would love to know. And Malcolm Bannister would love to tell them. But everything has a price—especially information as explosive as the sequence of events that led to Judge Fawcett’s death. And the Racketeer wasn’t born yesterday....
Nothing is as it seems and everything’s fair game in this wickedly clever new novel from John Grisham, the undisputed master of the legal thriller.
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|Listening Length||12 hours and 46 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||October 23, 2012|
|Publisher||Random House Audio|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #2,306 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#13 in Legal Thrillers (Audible Books & Originals)
#37 in Legal Thrillers (Books)
#249 in Suspense (Audible Books & Originals)
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Top reviews from the United States
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Five years into his sentence, he has become the librarian and “jailhouse lawyer” of the prison, filing motions on behalf of his fellow inmates and, on occasion, seeing injustices in their convictions reversed. He has lost everything else: his wife has divorced him and remarried, and his law license has been revoked; he has little hope of resuming his career after release.
A jailhouse lawyer hears many things from his “clients”: some boastful, others bogus, but some revealing secrets which those holding them think might help to get them out. When a federal judge is murdered, Bannister knows, from his contacts in prison, precisely who committed the crime and leverages his position to obtain his own release, disappearance into witness protection, and immunity from prosecution for earlier acts. The FBI, under pressure to solve the case and with no other leads, is persuaded by what Bannister has to offer and takes him up on the deal.
A jailhouse lawyer, wrongly convicted on a bogus charge by a despotic regime has a great deal of time to ponder how he has been wronged, identify those responsible, and slowly and surely draw his plans against them.
This is one of the best revenge novels I've read, and it's particularly appropriate since it takes down the tyrannical regime which incarcerates a larger percentage of its population than any serious country and shows how a clever individual can always outwit the bumbling collectivist leviathan as long as he refuses to engage it on level terrain but always exploits agility against the saurian brain reaction time of the state.
The only goof I noticed is that on a flight from Puerto Rico to Atlanta, passengers are required to go through passport control. As this is a domestic flight from a U.S. territory to the U.S. mainland, no passport check should be required.
I wouldn't call this a libertarian novel, as the author accepts the coercive structure of the state as a given, but it's a delightful tale of somebody who has been wronged by that foul criminal enterprise obtaining pay-back by wit and guile.
The story is entertaining and moves along quickly. The basic plot concerns an attorney, Malcolm Bannister, who is (according to him) unfairly incarcerated simply because he happened to pick the wrong client to represent, and in so doing he becomes swept up in a larger federal crackdown of his clients network of crimes.
Halfway through a ten-year stretch in a low-security prison, he is passing the time by taking care of the prison library and acting as an unofficial advocate for his fellow inmates, helping them where he can in filing appeals and providing other legal advice. While he is in prison, a federal judge is killed. Soon thereafter, Bannister contacts the FBI and tells them that he knows where they can find the judge's killer. He'll give them the information, for a price, of course - his freedom.
There is more to this than simply trading turning over a killer in order to obtain his own freedom. Bannister is also intent upon avenging his own wrongful conviction and making the FBI and the feds pay (so to speak) for the wrong that they had committed to him.
Well crafted and with a few good surprises and twists and turns, it has the trademark Grisham cleverness with Bannister's irreverence contrasting nicely with the seriousness and lack of ingenuity on the part of the feds. In fact, the law enforcement types who are present in this story are barely flushed out and play minimal roles. The story is all focused on Bannister and his scheme to gain his freedom as well as secure his future (the ill-gotten gains that had motivated the judges death eventually clarify what Bannisters real motivation has been). And Bannister flying back and forth from the Carribean reminds me of The Firm , where Mitch (and later his wife) travel to the Cayman Islands to copy the documents that they hope will save them from the crooks of Bendini, Lambert & Locke.
Still, the Racketeer lacks the tension and suspense of The Firm, and it also does not have the surprise ending of The Summons . Grisham's best novels have had complicated and interesting plots that involved rich characters who were stunning in their brazen disregard for the law and their ability to skim off vast sums of money in doing so - remember Max Pace in The King of Torts ? At this point is it unrealistic to expect each new Grisham novel to reach such a high bar?
Here, the story works well and it is an entertaining read. I suppose I consider it to be a 3 1/2 star overall, because it is enjoyable and well crafted. Not his best, just above average for John Grisham, but still better than most other writers these days.
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So, while it's only the beginning of August, (and yes I know it’s a bit early for handing out gongs) but "The Racketeer" is odds-on-favourite for my book of the year (well at least so far).
PS I recommended "The Racketeer" to the Memsahib, and she's enjoying it, so that must be worth at least another star making this a six star read.
I felt for him at the beginning due to being wrongly imprisoned and cut off from his family, but as the book went on he became steadily less and less likeable and relatable. No particular reason was given for his quasi-omnipotence. If it was that easy to con your way out of prison and run around North/Central America giving the FBI the finger, why aren't more people doing it?
The book pretty much lost all momentum around the 30-40% mark and never really regained it. The gradual reveal sort of worked but there was only one point where I found myself genuinely unsure whether the protagonist was an anti-hero or a genuine villain. Ultimately I didn't care who killed the judge or whether Mal/Max's scheme worked. There wasn't a bad guy or antagonistic force to speak of.
I wasn't surprised by the author's note at the end where JG admitted he hadn't really done any research. It showed.
Also the tagline on the front makes little sense. The protagonist wasn't betrayed by the FBI as far as I could tell. And he didn't particularly seem motivated by revenge, but rather greed. The FBI got what they wanted in the end: the killer of the judge.
With this in mind i revisited his works and selected a few to download to my Kindle. The first couple were great riveting reads as i had remembered so in no particular order i moved onto this one.
The outline of a small time lawyer caught up in a large FBI investigation was a plausible one but i thought the sentence meted out a little harsh. The first part of the book outlined how he had lost everything and then how he settled into being the jail house lawyer for other inmates. There were very few clues as to the next part of the story before it kicked off with the murder of a Judge and his girlfriend. Another inmate was offered up as the culprit and the FBI took the bait. The middle part of the book then became a tedious boring monologue of the discovery and recruitment of another man for a documentary, with little explanation of where he was going with the story.
The main character then suddenly changes from a law abiding citizen wrongfully convicted of a breach of legal code into one hell bent on getting someone locked up in a Caribbean prison. Grisham freely admits that he didn't research the plot before committing it to the story sand it showed. It was more like a trashy airport paperback than that produced by a consummate storyteller. Save your money and skip this one.
The firm slowly ( but only slightly),declined as it went on in my opinion.
Where as this one is solidly good throughout its entirety.
The storyline is excellent and the characters , while few , are interesting and well described.
I personally usually prefer fantasy and sword and sorcery type books.
But like to read a thriller by Grisham or King now and again to keep things fresh.
All round a solid book that I enjoyed and would happily recommend to a friend.
This novel moves quickly, a real page turner. Centred on a man with a plot to avenge an unjust sentence for a crime he didn't knowingly commit, there are a few twists in the tale on his way to vindication.
I think most readers will see the twists, or at least their outline before they come, but the story rivets nonetheless, and I had loose ends right to the end.
Not sure how likely the events would be - even Grisham comments on this in the author's notes - but I certainly enjoyed the book from cover to cover.