HODDER & STOUGHTON OUT NOW
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.