3rd May 2014
I feel ambivalent about this Grisham novel - I enjoyed reading it, and tore through it with a rapidity that surprised me (aided by a long train journey admittedly), and yet felt that it was quite a mechanical plot, lacking character and texture.
The story follows a lawyer named Malcolm, the narrator, as he tells the tale of his life in prison, and then turns into a complex plot that doesn't really become entirely clear until right at the end, though the first-person perspective lends an easy element of frustrating obfuscation to the narrative even then. It's hard to say more about the setup without giving anything away.
The story is almost that of a classic heist movie, and in a way reads like a film script, with characters performing a sequence of actions through which you have to interpret their character, rather than seeing their emotional state represented on the page as in most novels. The characters therefore come across as having a lack of depth - and some particularly key characters seem to barely have an existence other than to allow events to occur simultaneously, they aren't even given a sufficient backstory or believable motivation for taking part.
Looking back, I certainly enjoyed the novel despite its drawbacks, and think it's actually one of the best and most original of Grisham's lawyer stories. I'm just still not quite clear what happened.