Sunday 19 November 2017

Books: Grisham on the mean streets

Thrillers: Rogue Lawyer, John Grisham, Hodder&Stoughton, hdbk, 352 pages, €19.99

John Grisham: Rogue Lawyer
John Grisham: Rogue Lawyer

Myles McWeeney

In John Grisham's 35th novel, the rogue lawyer of the title is no ordinary ambulance-chasing street lawyer. Sebastian Rudd works out of a customised bullet-proof van equipped with Wi-Fi, a bar, mini-fridge, fine leather chairs, a hidden gun compartment and a heavily-armed chauffeur called Partner, who doubles as his bodyguard, law clerk, confidant and golf caddy.

So far, so Michael Connolly, who introduced us to Mickey Haller, his rogue defence lawyer working out of the back seat of his car way back in 2005 in The Lincoln Lawyer.

Like Haller, Grisham's Rudd will defend the most notorious criminals going - if they have enough money to cover his fees. He is currently defending a mixed bag of clients. There's Gardy, a 20-year-old tattooed and pierced drug-addled kid with an IQ of 70 who is said to have cruelly murdered two little girls; a vicious and totally unrepentant crime lord called Link Scanlon who is on death row and due to be executed in days; upright citizen Doug Renfro, accused of murdering a member of a SWAT team that kicked down his front and back doors in the middle of the night; and cage fighter Tadeo Zapate, a tough and streetwise martial arts expert on the way up in the violent sport that Sebastian is fascinated by.

Rudd's manoeuvrings on the very edge of legality on behalf of his various clients resembles more a series of short novellas than a conventionally structured novel. But the obligatory climactic closing trial scene - always one of Grisham's strong suits - is delivered with considerable panache.

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