Rogue Lawyer, by John Grisham

Four stars

In another masterful legal novel, Grisham takes readers down yet another rabbit hole of the profession. Sebastian Rudd is a lawyer like few others who have graced the pages of a Grisham novel. Working solely by word of mouth, Rudd believes that everyone, no matter their history, personality, or mindset, deserves a lawyer and their day in court. Grisham chooses to take the reader along a few paths, depicting some of the clients Rudd has during a snapshot in his legal career, sometimes delving into trials, at other times legal conundrums. This is more a collection of six cases, in which Grisham has Rudd handling the defence side of apparent prosecutorial ‘slam dunk’ cases. While he battles an ex-wife with a vendetta who seeks to use their son as a pawn, Rudd is able to dazzle the reader and his client with his antics, but at what cost? The cases weave together and arc effectively into a larger plot that allows the reader to see Sebastian Rudd at his best, and worst, using justice as his nagging wife, which he so eloquently describes in the opening pages. Not to be missed by Grisham fans and newcomers alike.

I was once asked why Grisham is such a popular writer when he cannot string together a successful series for his adult readers (having penned a great young adult series in Theodore Boone). Taking up the gauntlet, I let this fellow reader know that Grisham’s greatness without a series can be summed up in two strong arguments: a) no single lawyer could handle the varied nature of Grisham’s legal thrillers all on his own, and b) the ability to create a fresh character in each novel, including surroundings and backstory, is more impressive than parachuting a character in the same surroundings time and time again. This argument is strengthened yet again in this novel. Grisham takes a new look at the law, pulling on some of his other novels for breadcrumbs, but substantiating the Rudd character on his own merit. The backstory provided, woven into the six separate case stories, is strong and highly effective, leaving the reader wanted more vignettes to illustrate this man’s narrative. Rudd has a flavour that individualises him from other Grisham characters, while still holding firm to the character formula that has worked so effectively for thirty years. With succinct narratives and a dry wit that keeps the reader hooked, Grisham is able to spin a tale that will entertain most legal thriller lovers. While not as legally entrenched as some of his other works, Grisham can be excused for a slightly diluted story, as he has tapped into so many angles in the past. However, he does not skim the waters and churn out fluff, keeping his mind sharp and his readers entertained until the closing lines of the last chapter.
Kudos, Mr. Grisham for another successful novel that piques the reader from the opening paragraph and does not let-up until the last period. What else have you in store for your fans?