This is a bit of a strange one. About a quarter of the way through the book I suddenly realised that this was a collection of short stories. Nowhere does it say that. If I had known I wouldn’t have bought it. I don’t like short stories. I find them unsatisfying and unfulfilling. Maybe that’s why they didn’t tell us it is crammed with short stories from the outset, for they knew a lot of people would have passed.
But then several of the characters in earlier stories reappeared, telling me that this isn’t quite a book of short stories at all, even if it comes across that way. One other thing crossed my mind as I was reading this book too. It seemed to me perfectly possible that these stories were John Grisham’s failed books. All writers have them in abundance. Books that started out okay but somehow didn’t really go anywhere, books that didn’t cut it and were subsequently abandoned.
Even hugely successful writers like Stephen King admit they have loads of failed books that never saw the light of day. That’s what these stories felt like, almost as if someone said: why not pack them all together, John, trim them off, and you have another book here, and you just know they will still sell well?
The odd thing is that to some extent it works. The book features a weird lawyer by the name of Sebastian Rudd who specialises in defending the indefensible, the people that no one else would touch with a bargepole, though even that I found a little hard to believe, for some lawyers seem to be attracted to the real lowlifes of this world, for all the inherent publicity they bring with them, but no matter.
Sebastian is separated from his litigious wife; she has custody of the only child and is intent on denying him visiting rights. She’s messing with the wrong guy. Sebastian is such an oddball he is conducting his legal business out of the back of a pickup truck. The guy’s more interested in cage fighters than he is the courtroom, but alas, the law work pays the bills and he’s stuck with it, and the many unsavoury characters he hangs around with.
About a third of he way through this book I thought of junking it, but I hate doing that for I dislike wasting my time with no result, and in the end I am glad I did. Eventually, the book hangs together, just about.
It certainly is not one of John Grisham’s best, but it is still a decent read. Get over the short story flutters and if you enjoy Grisham books then you will probably enjoy this one too. Begrudgingly, in the end, I did too. Three and half stars from me for this one.