Review Post : The Racketeer

The Racketeer

The Racketeer

 Title : The Racketeer

 Author : John Grisham
 Publisher : Dell
 Pages :  400 Pages
 Year of Publication : 2012
 Language : English
 Genre(s) : Mystery, thriller,  suspense
 Bought from : Kinokuniya (Plaza Senayan)

 Synopsis and Cover Pic : Goodreads

Synopsis :
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 . . .

“A trial was a spectacle, a farce, a ridiculous way to search for the truth. But as I learned, the truth was not important. Perhaps in another era, a trial was an exercise in the presentations of facts, the search for truth, and the finding of justice. Now a trial is a contest in which one side will win and the other side will lose. Each side expects the other to bend the rules or to cheat, so neither side plays fair. The truth is lost in the melee.” P.84 

Malcolm Bannister, a 40-something guy. A former lawyer yet a Frostburg camp inmate, and became one due to his previous job involving him to trouble. And ever since then, he has lost two important things in his life : his career and his family. Only his old man, his sister, and his brother cared for him. But with 10 year sentence, he always thought his life was horrible. Until someday Malcolm heard the news about a Federal Judge, named Ray Fawcett, was killed along with his secretary as well as mistress. He knew something behind this murder, no, he knew someone behind this all. Who killed both of ‘em. And with this, Malcolm offered his knowledge to FBI, but with the exchange of his freedom and security after telling these all. In US, there’s a rule named Rule 35 which enables a freedom of an inmate if he/she can help the police and government (If I’m not mistaken). At first, FBI could hardly buy his offer, but for the sake of the case’ development, they decided to give Malcolm a try.

“It would be wrong to get the impression that Frostburg is filled with Bible-thumpers. It is not. It’s still a prison, and the majority of my fellow inmates would not be caught dead in a church service.” P.138

After signing some agreement, finally Malcolm stated what he knew. He told them that the murderer had been one of previous inmates in Frostburg, who was judged by the late Fawcett and felt resentful towards him. He was Quin Rucker. And without further ado, FBI searched for Quin and caught him while he’s doing his business. Further investigation was done, but for few hours Quin insisted he did not do what he was accused of. But the FBI investigator threatened to put his family in jail if he did not speak the truth (actually, speak things FBI believed was true) and he forcefully confessed to be the murderer and his confession was recorded in a video. And Malcolm finally could easily breath and embrace his freedom. But to protect him from any threats Quin’s family might do to him as Quin already figured out who told this thing, Malcolm entered the Witness Protection Program. He changed his identity, alter his face and look, and learnt to behave different than he usually did. He deleted Malcolm Bannister’s life and welcome Max Reed Baldwin, the new him, who’s never a lawyer nor an inmate, who lived his life in Florida. He would never be able to meet his father, his brother, his sister, even his son who lived with his ex-wife but he chose to keep going on. But the story didn’t end there! Quin kept denying the accusation and told his lawyer the FBI forced him to confess. He knew the man behind this scene and asked his brother to look for Malcolm Bannister. He was really sure Malcolm used Rule 35 and changed his identity. And it didn’t take a long time for his brother to find Malcolm, who’s now Max Reed Baldwin, in Florida, enjoying his life to the fullest. Hearing this through their devices, the FBI freaked out and called Max that Quin’s guys already found him. Max blamed the FBI and chose to move to other places without giving a notice to FBI. With his new identity, he made a virtual documentary movie company and acted as a famous director who earned many awards in the field. With this, he began his true mission! The mission to catch the real culprit in Judge Fawcett murder and to revenge FBI, who made Malcolm Bannister’s life horrible. Through the eye of Malcolm Bannister’s, readers are brought to know about life in a special camp/prison, behind the scene of FBI investigation who sometimes intimidates the accused that he/she’s cornered and forced to do what FBI told. We know further about US Law System and its apparatus and how they coordinated with each other. And I bet Grisham put what his view of US Law System, FBI, and US special camp in this book (Well, almost all authors do that hhi). I find it interesting, though, it helped me to think critically of my country’s.

“I often wonder about their history. Who mined the gold? From which continent? Who minted it? How did it get into this country? And so on. But I know these questions will never be answered.” P. 350

First let’s talk about the characters. Here Malcolm Bannister a.k.a Max Reed Baldwin is the star. Almost everything in this book is explained through his perspective. Yeah, ‘almost’, because there are some parts in which he didn’t involve directly and those situations are described through third POV. We could see his subjective thought in every condition happening to him, which is undoubtedly suspicious towards FBI. In the beginning, I was sympathetic because seemingly he was a victim of FBI and the law system. But after he was set free, changed his identity, and finally known what he reported about Quin Rucker was not true, the sympathy gradually decreased. But still, I enjoyed to know what he’s been thinking, like it’s all unpredictable and brilliant. Even the FBI had no idea how to deal with the mess Max purposively created. His characterization was gradually revealed following the situations evolved and I finally could conclude how he was at the end of the story. In reality, I surely will not agree to how he solved problems, but it’s different when reading them through this book, like I think it’s funny hhi.

Others are also interesting, like Quin Rucker,the ‘victim’ of Bannister’s who just poured everything in his mind, ignoring the effect it could to him. I enjoyed reading his parts, and at the end, it’s also revealed he’s one of the mastermind along with Bannister! This story is really full of surprise! Victor Westlake was also a nice supporting character, a thoughtful and careful one. Actually his parts were only few but it’s stuck in my mind, because it always involved something funny, not meaningful though. Perhaps that is why I perceive this character is also interesting hhi.

The second one is the setting. I, and along with other readers, were brought to many places where Malcolm did his adventure; starting from Fostburg to Florida, and then to Miami, continute to Roanoke, then going to Jamaica, Virginia, and so forth (please note in mind that this is not the exact order, but these all are places in which the events took place). And before ending up with Vanessa, his friend’s sister , whom he had had a crush on ever since they met in the camp, Malcolm had a only-for-fun relationship with Eva while he was in Miami (not sure about this, I forget, sorry) and managed to flirt with other women lol. He definetly was more confident with his new look hhi.

Then if you asked me what’s the most special about this story, of course I would no doubt to say the plot! I think this is what those literature experts call the character-driven plot! The Racketeer, I mean, every characters and situations inside, are stirred by Malcolm. You know, especially the FBI was really only like a bunch of idiot puppets. It was really cool, in my opinion. Not all crime, mystery, and thriller authors can pull this kind of plot. So you already know for sure that I really had fun with this book and absolutely, this is one of my most recommended novel for you all, who love crime, thriller, suspense, mystery, law-themed books! No no no, not only for those kind, but also those who usually think this kind of books is not their cup of tea, because yeah, thriller, crime books usually are really serious and kinda boring.

But no, put aside that thought because you will have fun with this!! Trust me!! And I hope Indonesian publishers will translate this book to Bahasa so that people who enjoy reading in Bahasa can read this soon! =)) 

PS : I include this review as a part of my commitment in reading-along John Grisham’s books, hosted by Books to Share, under Mystery’s Books Club.

Mystery Book Club

Mystery Book Club

=) Rating : 5/5


7 thoughts on “Review Post : The Racketeer

  1. the reason why i don’t really like this book is because i don’t like Malcolm aka Max. For me he’s just a crook who robbed another crook. I tried to like him – since he’s the narrator (or star as you put it hehe) but still, this is not my fave grisham so far XD

    • Yeah I dont approve his way to catch the real murderer too, he’s really no better lol. But no matter how I dislike his way, I just keep symphatizing his reasonings. It’s weird but…Lol. I don’t know hhi.
      By the way, are you a mystery or thriller book reader? mind to exchange link? 🙂

    • Uppss I’m sorry I didn’t realize that you’re the owner of Books to Share that I asked if you’re a mystery reader hehe. But still, mind to exchange link? Hehe

  2. One of my wishlist, since I (almost) read & collect all Grisham’s works. Thanks for joining this event, hopefully you’ll enjoy it and joining others event to this year (^_^)

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