Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Whistler

The Whistler
© 2015 John Grisham
384 pages

The offices of the Board of Judicial Conduct rarely see excitement.  Responsible for investigating claims of judicial abuse and defrocking offenders, their rowdiest target has been an old lech who forgot which bar  he was a member of and attempted to seduce various women in the courtroom. But now a disbarred lawyer who represents a shadowy chain of confidants claims to have information that might expose the most corrupt judge in American history.  According to the ex-lawyer, the mysterious robed one is in bed with a swamp gang, skimming millions from an Indian casino.    After a series of deaths and disappearances, lead character Lacey Stolz and the BJC are forced to call in the FBI to help bring the errant judge and the conspiracy to justice. (Which they do, rather quickly.)

Although I faithfully read the latest Grisham book every year,  I've been enormously disappointed in most of his recent works -- so much so that I didn't even look forward to trying this one, I merely cracked it open for tradition's sake. I'm happy to report that the book was not awful; it was even moderately enjoyable. Huzzah for mildness!   Execution-wise there's not a like to brag about: forgettable characters,  flat dialogue, and repetition. (Seriously, Lacy Stolz mentions how glad she is not to be married so many times that I hope Grisham's wife doesn't read this and think he's complaining vicariously.)  On the bright side, the Board of Judicial Review is fresh ground for Grisham, and the extensive time spent on an Indian reservation is new as well. (Grisham did poke into this area in Ford County, but that was only one story.)   Grisham also stays technologically relevant by having one character monitor a house break-in through an app on her phone.  Best of all, though, the characters are not the abysmally awful cretins of Rogue Lawyer.  They even have friends who like them.

The Whistler is a very vanilla sort of book; tasty enough not to put down, but not so compelling that it consumes the reader. It's genuine airplane/vacation reading, with a rushed ending in case boredom sets in.

"The covers are the same? ....make the new one red. They'll never know."


  1. So now I know about some books not to read but which by Grisham are your top three must-read recommendations?

  2. For a first time reader, I would suggest The Rainmaker, featuring a young lawyer against a titanic insurance firm; The Last Juror, the chronicle of a small Mississippi town in the 1970s, and The Firm, which established Grisham as a popular writer of thrillers. In that one, a young lawyer discovers that the firm which hired him is partially owned by the Mafia -- the real one.

    Most of the Grisham books I've reviewed on this blog have been the ones released since 2008, but ocasionally I do re-read reviews, and have posted one for The Last Juror:

    I can never decide between Last Juror and Rainmaker as my favorite.


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