Like an ol’ song from the renowned B.B. King: “The thrill is gone”.
Oh, yeah. I’m gonna catch a lot of flack from the die-hard Grisham fans. Funny thing. I’m one of them. I’ve read everything “Grisham” from his very first to this current one. I’d read his grocery list, too. But this one…….
Something smells like three-day-old fish washed up on the shores of a Florida beach. Instead of rotting fish, it’s a Florida judge who seems to be caught up in a net of judicial misconduct floating in the waves of bribes, illicit exchanges, and deeply hidden cash. The judge is a crafty one who buries her ill-gotten treasures like a sea turtle hiding her eggs in the sand.
Lacy Stolz and her partner, Hugo Hatch, are the legal investigators called in to check out the story of a whistleblower (hence the title). Greg Myers, who has changed his name and his identity like some people change their minds, is the man with the information. His past as a shifty lawyer gives off more shade than the local palm trees. Lacy and Hugo are taken for an unsettling ride as Myers ticks off time according to his own clock.
We’re soon introduced to the Coast Mafia that has been in operation for some time. Add the unsurprising ingredient of a Florida Native American casino operating on the fringes of the law and you have the framing of this story.
As a tried-and-true fan, I have had my fingers on the pulse of the last few books by Grisham. They have been floating way under the current that is expected of this stellar author. They entertain, but they just don’t seem to have “the thrill of the chase” that was once a solid credential of an offering by Grisham.
Grisham sells. We buy. And I always will with the hope that the tide will roll in, once again, with all that we’ve known to be “true” Grisham. This will be a satisfying read to some, but once you’ve tasted Champagne, a flat beer just doesn’t have the same buzz.
Who judges the judges? Personally it’s not something I’ve ever given any thought to, but John Grisham has created a unique and exciting storyline based around this very subject.
Lacy Stoltz investigates cases of judicial misconduct in Florida. She has her share of interesting cases but nothing that will set the world on fire, that is until Greg Myers approaches her with the mother of all judicial misconduct complaints. Under state law, Myers and his anonymous whistle blower are able to claim a portion of any illegal assets discovered from the investigation, and as investigations go, this one will go down in history.
Lacy, along with her working partner Hugo Hatch agree to meet Myers ( a somewhat shady character who lives on the periphery of society). He is a convicted felon, who lost his license to practice law, but he served his time and has recently had his licence restored. He claims to have evidence of a female judge being mixed up with the local mafia, saying that she’s amassed a small fortune in illegal earnings from a casino and its surrounding condos. This case, if proven, could become a very dangerous assignment for Lacy and Hugo, and Hugo in particular has real concerns about becoming involved with the mafia, and its possible outcome. The case is presented to their boss Michael Geismar, and after much deliberation, it’s decided that they will take the case on, with Lacy and Hugo being the main investigators.
And so begins the massive investigation to bring to justice the most corrupt judge in US history. It becomes clear that peeling away the many layers of deceit will not be easy, and as their powers are somewhat limited, the FBI are brought into play and work in conjunction with Lacy and the team. Companies and assets are well hidden but the whole team’s determination is unquestionable. Of course, anyone who tries to take down the mafia are not in for an easy ride, but it makes for a truly exciting read.
This was an intelligent and gripping storyline, and took me into places I’d rather not go, thankful that I was reading from a cosy armchair, and with the distinct advantage of not being personally involved. The characterisation too was perfect, with completely believable personalities. What a thoroughly enjoyable and compelling read.