Grisham opens with a familiar sentence: “My name is Sebastian Rudd.” See similarly Melville and Moby Dick’s: “Call me Ishmael” or the more recent: “Je suis Charlie.”
He gives us short, pithy sentences (no Proust here), replete with a sarcastic, cynical view of the underside of American society. A political screed, too: our legal system is all fouled up. The novel confirms the basic thesis of Dan Ariely’s ‘The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty’ — that we are all basically and instinctively dishonest, at least to some degree, especially when we see dishonesty in others.
Few really likable characters and the entire scene is gloomy. Characters are also outlandish — a totally lesbian law firm; police, judges, prosecutors, jurors, defendants all easily bought; non-communication at dinner; a martial arts fighter gone berserk; a protagonist (hardly a “hero”), who himself slips into dishonesty.
And the scenes — a last-minute reprieve; a last-minute escape; militaristic police; a convoluted law case in which every string is pulled; and a protagonist who disappears into the ether at the very end, leaving many loose ends (including a son).
But, despite all these qualms, this is an utterly engrossing book for an evening reader!
Editor’s Note: Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham is published by Doubleday, New York 2015.
About the Author: Felix Kloman is a sailor, rower, husband, father, grandfather, retired management consultant and, above all, a curious reader and writer. He’s explored how we as human beings and organizations respond to ever-present uncertainty in two books, ‘Mumpsimus Revisited’ (2005) and ‘The Fantods of Risk’ (2008). A 20-year resident of Lyme, he now writes book reviews, mostly of non-fiction that explores our minds, our behavior, our politics and our history. But he does throw in a novel here and there. For more than 50 years, he’s put together the 17 syllables that comprise haiku, the traditional Japanese poetry, and now serves as the self-appointed “poet laureate” of Ashlawn Farms Coffee, where he may be seen on Friday mornings. His wife, Ann, is also a writer, but of mystery novels, all of which begin in a bubbling village in midcoast Maine, strangely reminiscent of the town she and her husband visit every summer.