THE WHISTLER

HOD­DER & STOUGHTON OUT NOW

Crime Scene - - POST MORTEM - BY JOHN GR­ISHAM By JONATHAN WRIGHT

Just one of the cu­riosi­ties of John Gr­isham’s ca­reer is that many of his books don’t ac­tu­ally de­liver too many un­ex­pected thrills. Rather, his nov­els are typ­i­cally, if not ex­clu­sively, le­gal pro­ce­du­rals where the plot is of­ten tele­graphed ahead.

The Whistler is a case in point. It’s about lawyers who bring mis­be­hav­ing judges to book in Florida and, when at­tor­ney-in­ves­ti­ga­tor Lacy Stoltz is tipped off about a cor­rupt judge with con­nec­tions to or­gan­ised crime, you can largely see where the story is go­ing. With other writ­ers, this would be a prob­lem, yet Gr­isham’s prose style is so as­sured that it re­ally doesn’t mat­ter. In­stead, as he guides us through the in­tri­ca­cies of why Na­tive Amer­i­cans are per­mit­ted to op­er­ate casi­nos where oth­ers would strug­gle to get a gam­ing li­cence, and how gang­sters skim off and laun­der money, there’s a sense of spend­ing time with a writer who’s adept at cre­at­ing mood and at­mos­phere.

When the one truly un­ex­pected and all-too-be­liev­ably vi­o­lent plot twist does ar­rive, it’s all the more shock­ing. More im­por­tantly, Gr­isham’s ap­proach means that he has the space to ex­plore the hu­man af­ter­math of the tragedy, rather than be­ing im­pelled to move on to the next set-piece. This, in turn, gives The Whistler real emo­tional wal­lop.

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