Guess who sent me a review today bookjunkies! That’s right…the elusive Scottydog! And once again, you are in for a treat as it seems he is in the doghouse again with the Mrs…he never learns. Lucky for us though, he managed to sneak in this review of John Grisham’s :Rogue Lawyer. I won’t tell him that it is me who keeps grassing him up….
I’m not a typical lawyer. I don’t maintain a pretty office filled with mahogany and leather. I don’t belong to a big firm, prestigious or otherwise. I don’t do good works through the bar association. I’m a lone gunman, a rogue who fights bad systems and hates injustice . . .
Sebastian Rudd takes the cases no one else wants to take: the drug-addled punk accused of murdering two little girls; a crime lord on death row; a homeowner who shot at a SWAT teaam.
Rudd believes that every person accused of a crime is entitled to a fair trial – even if he has to cheat to get one. He antagonises people from both sides of the law: his last office was firebombed, either by drug dealers or cops. He doesn’t know or care which.
But things are about to get even more complicated for Sebastian. Arch Swanger is the prime suspect in the abduction and presumed murder of 21-year-old Jiliana Kemp, the daughter of the assistant chief of police. When Swanger asks Sebastian to represent him, he lets Sebastian in on a terrible secret . . . one that will threaten everything Sebastian holds dear.
Scottydog’s Rating: 5/5
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – why are you wearing masks?
I mean, seriously, there are no other giant, mutated, kung fu kicking turtles out there. No one is going to mistake another turtle for you.
I suppose I’d better start this review with something akin to an apology and an explanation, fellow CrimeBookJunkies. This review might be a bit different to my others in terms of style and content for the simple reason that time is not on my side right now, so I’m having to write this on the 06:57am to London Liverpool Street, on my way to my current weekly imposed sentence of office incarceration. Truth be told, I have no idea how this one will turn out. The train is the only place I can read or write at the moment. Life outside work is just as stupidly busy as life in work, and what with the DIY and decorating I’m doing on Casa de Scottydog right now, my house looks less like a humble abode and more like I’m losing a game of Jumanji.
Also, I’m in the doghouse. Put there by Mrs Scottydog. Again. For a reason that the blokey bloke part of me would refer to as ‘female logic’ (but only to my pals, and never to the lethal assassin that is Mrs Scottydog).
My crime? I visited a motorcycle dealer on the way home from Tesco the other day. And didn’t tell her about it. No joke. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view) motorcycles are my number one passion in life, and I can no more be expected to pass by a bike dealer without popping in to peruse the heavenly machines on display than a hungry labrador would be able to walk past a plate of cooked chicken without making a grab for it.
“Where have you been?”
“Don’t try to ‘huh’ me. Where else have you been?”
UNEASY SILENCE . . .
“Did you go to a bike shop by any chance?”
“No. I mean, yes. I mean, well, sort of . . . I was only looking. How the hell do you know that?”
“Because you have a load of Kawasaki brochures in your rucksack.”
“What are you doing going through my ru-“
“Never mind that – what are you going to a Kawasaki shop for? You’ve changed your bike twice in the past year.”
“I’m sorry, I forgot – you prefer Harley Davidsons. I can stop and get some Harley brochures tommor-“
“I’m not in the mood for your stupid jokes. You’re not getting another bike when there’s holidays to pay for, kitchens to do, walls to paint . . . “
“Girlfriend to ignore . . .”
“Girlfriends to ignore . . . NO! Not that last one! Stop making jokes, I’m serious. You’re not getting another bike!”
So right now when I’m at home I’d better not be reading or reviewing (or breathing) . . . if I value the use of my legs (which I do, very much) then I’d better crack on with the painting. Turns out that I’ve never looked forward to my daily commute as much as I do right now. Incidentally, I used to get the train to and from work with Caroline Mitchell before she left the job to become a full time author (way to go, Caroline . . . we miss you, but we’re also very pleased for you) and sitting opposite her I would take a sneaky peak up from my Kindle or paperback. Not to look at her, you understand, but to look at the fellow passenger sitting next to her. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone sit next to Caroline and NOT be able to stare at her screen as she taps away on her Mac, doing what authors do. I used to love watching the expressions on the faces of the people sitting next to Caroline as they read the words on her screen. Some would be engrossed in Caroline’s writing and be completely oblivious to everything else around them, and some would have a look of horror or incredulity on their face. One woman even sat for a few moments, open mouthed, staring at the screen, and then looked at Caroline, looked across at me and then got up and changed seats. Often if I’d noticed a particularly strong reaction from the passenger next to Caroline I’d later ask her what she was making her literary character do at that particular point. “Oh, nothing much,” Caroline might reply, “he just tied someone up with barbed wire and set them alight. You know – the usual.”
Yeah, you know . . . as you do.
So back to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Be honest, if you saw Donatello in a pet shop WITHOUT his mask on I’m pretty sure you’d twig it was him, what with him being 6 feet tall, walking upright like a human, and carrying a sword. Normal turtles just don’t do that, and the world is a lesser place because of it.
This is the random thought that went through my bloke / Neanderthal brain recently as I began to devour “Rouge Lawyer,’ by John Grisham. I’m not a book snob. No siree, not at all. I have no problem admitting that you’re just as likely to catch me reading one of the heavy weights as you are likely to see me with a debut novel from a new British indie. So when Stephen King churned out a few titles under the pen name of Richard Bachman, it wasn’t long before King fans all over the world sat up said, “Hang on just a cotton-pickin’ minute!” And just like an upright, 6 foot turtle armed to the teeth, Stephen King wasn’t fooling anyone. His style of writing is just so distinctive, people almost instantly knew it was him.
And like King, John Grisham is another firm favourite of mine. Before the end of the first chapter of Rogue Lawyer I was immersed in the story and his unique, distinctive writing style that sets him apart from the others, fleeting thoughts of ninja turtles but also a strange comforting feeling. This is the Grisham we’re used to. So I hunkered down, got myself comfortable, and prepared to spend a couple of hours with Rogue Lawyer before the Haupt Meister Uber Fuhrer returned home and told me off for something I had no idea I’d done wrong. (Guys, did you know that there is actually a WRONG way to put the milk back in the fridge? Apparently I am living proof of that).
The law is an ass! How many times have you heard that one? Well, it might be true, but the vast majority of the time the people enforcing it are not, and neither are those working in the legal field. Sebastian Rudd is the Rogue Lawyer in Grisham’s latest (and superb) offering. But don’t let the Rogue Lawyer badge fool you – Rudd is very good indeed. He knows his stuff, knows the law and knows the loopholes. He just approaches practicing law differently to other lawyers. Written in the first person, Rudd sometimes portrays a pessamistic, yet possibly realistic, view of the law. Rudd himself sums up his stance perfectly early on in the book when he tells us:
‘When the State, with its limitless resources, commences a fraudelnt case and cheats at every turn, then cheating is legitimized. There is no level playing field. There is no fairness. The only honerable alternative for a lawyer fighting to save an innocent client is to cheat in defense.’
I read this and thought, ‘Hell yeah – bring it on!’ And neither Grisham or Rudd dissappointed.
Rudd himself is an intruiging character. He doesn’t work like other lawyers. He doesn’t work for a huge firm, earing half a million dollars a year. He doesn’t wear expensive Armani suits or drive a Mercedes brand spanker, adorned with more gadgets than a rich kid’s bedroom – he conducts his business out of a van with blacked out windows and a table in the back to write on. His driver acts as his bodyguard (armed, of course) and general goffer, and the driver’s mother answers the phone in her apartment to take Rudd’s messages. He may sound like a shyster, and indeed act like one at times, but he’s no one’s fool. And from an avid reader’s (and Grisham afficiando’s) perspective, that makes this character all the more interesting and a worthy protagonist and adversary.
Rudd gets into scrapes along the way, takes on the clients no one else will touch with a 12 foot mutant ninja turtle’s spear, financially backs and promotes an MMA fighter along the way (who then gets himself into hot legal water when his martial arts skills prove formidable) . . . and even throws a punch himself.
But here’s the thing . . .
Halfway through Rogue Lawyer I thought to myself, ‘This book is almost un-reviewable.’ Not that it’s a bad book – quite the opposite, it’s superb and is a 5 star read. What I mean is, the first half of the book almost reads like a fictional memoir, a collection of anecdotes and interesting situations – where are you going with this? I thought as Rudd got into scrape after scrape and took on client after dodgy client, none of whom had any relevance to the other. At one point I almost thought Grisham was saying to us, “OK, pop pickers, here’s Sebastian Rudd, sneaky lawyer and a bit of a twat at times, and here’s some of the cases, races and sneaky two-faces he gets involved with. Now go read and knock yourselves out!”
I should have known much better, and as someone who has been reading Grisham’s works for over 20 years, I should have given the guy much more credit. I owe you an apology, John – get in touch, I’ll buy you a beer. The way everything clicks into place in the second half of the book is simply sublime, crafted by a true artist at the very top of his game. I now see Grisham as so much more than a master story teller and superb writer – I don’t know how many authors could have pulled this one off and made so many different clients, cases, anecdotes and personal relationship issues all come together with the relevance and intent that Grisham did here. This is one of his best.
Sebastian Rudd may very well be a Rogue Lawyer, but he’s not a bad bloke at all. He believes in justice and wants to do the very best he can for his clients. He distrusts the police, governement, politicians and, well, virtually everyone apart from a select few. He is someone who circumstance and experience has made a bit cynical about the law, and who has come to the conclusion that if you find yourself in a fair fight, your tactics suck. One of Grisham’s best characters in one of his best novels.
And that makes me happy, as Grisham’s previous novel, Grey Mountain, was a bit, well, naff really. It was well written, as all his books are, but it just wasn’t the usual exciting, engaging story that we have come to expect from Grisham. If it was a paint, it would be magnolia. If Grey Mountain was a biscuit, it would be a Rich Tea. Nothing wrong with Rich Teas, you understand, but be honest – if you reach for the Rich Tea over a choccie Digestive or a Kit Kat then I reserve the absolute moral high ground when I un-friend you on Facebook.
So let’s not judge Grisham on Grey Mountain . . . let’s focus on books like Rogue Lawyer, The Firm, The Brethren, Runaway Jury, The King Of Torts, The Broker, A Time To Kill. He’s written some crackers. And did you know that his books have sold over 270 million copies worldwide, and that Grisham is one of only 3 authors to sell 2 million copies on a first printing? (The other 2 are Tom Clancy and J.K. Rowling).
My stop is coming up, so it’s time to draw this to a close and to urge to discover John Grisham, especially if you’re a book snob who hasn’t already done so. Turns out that this review was actually written over 2 train journeys to work, but hey.
Incidentally, did you know that the human soul weighs 0.8 pounds? I know this because I weighed myself before and after work yesterday.
Rogue Lawyer is a cracking read.
Let’s hope Mrs Scottydog doesn’t read reviews! LOL! Another awesome write-up for a book I have now added to my growing TBR pile! Thanks Scottydog!! If you’re interested in grabbing yourself a copy, click the link below!
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